There has been much media coverage of the recent court hearings heard in Watford Magistrates Court on 3 April and 6 May 2014. IPEN would like to take this opportunity to reassure our clients, Specialists and the public that the matter between IPEN, a limited company owned by Lynnea Shrief and the Dacorum Borough Council (DBC) is involving the placenta services of Lynnea Shrief only, in Dacorum borough council only, and does not concern or affect the placenta services of the remaining 102 Placenta Specialists licensed by IPEN around the world.
The Dacorum Borough Council health officers operate in Dacorum Borough Council only and do not have the jurisdiction to have any governance over Placenta Specialists or food businesses outside of Dacorum. The verdict, due to be announced sometime over the next 2-3 weeks will not affect the IPEN Placenta Specialists based outside of Dacorum. There is a possible future threat if environmental health officers in other parts of the UK or world decide they too find placenta services a risk to health based on the verdict of the hearing. It is IPEN’s highest priority to ensure the risk of closure to IPEN Placenta Specialists based outside of Dacorum does not become real.
Lynnea Shrief has been prohibited from offering placenta smoothies and raw capsules as well as TCM capsules to the public since October 2013 and December 2013 respectively because two Hygiene Emergency Prohibition Notices were served on Lynnea Shrief with no warning or preventative action. A Dacorum spokesperson commented in the Daily Mail today saying ‘We don’t take people to court willy-nilly. We try to work with them beforehand – court is a last resort.’. This is untrue; the DBC were very unhelpful in their attempt to settle the matter with Lynnea Shrief outside of court. It is a matter of fact that a meeting was set for 23 October 2013 with Lynnea Shrief and the DBC, but the first hygiene notice was served on 21 October 2013, two days prior to the meeting and without warning giving IPEN no chance to ‘work things out’ with the DBC and their concerns with IPEN’s services.
The hygiene notices served on Lynnea Shrief described IPEN’s placenta services as an ‘imminent risk to health’ and listed a large number of possible contaminants that would cause the product (placenta) to be unfit for human consumption. However the only possible contaminant the DBC were able to secure any such evidence for was Staphylococcus aureus bacteria, which may cause food poisoning if left to multiply to unsafe levels causing a development of an enterotoxin that causes food poisoning. This process can take 6 hours at room temperature as described by food hygiene expert and microbiologist Slim Dinsdale basing his calculations using the Combase model, also used by the Food Standards Agency. All other ‘possible contaminants’ were ruled out during the hearing due to lack of evidence. Dr Dinsdale also noted that Staphylococcus would have to compete with other lactic acid bacterias, also found in the vagina, making the multiplication of Staphylococcus aureus once transferred to the placenta through birth much slower than if present on its own. It is this reason alone that Staphyloccocus aureus bacteria found in the vagina does not pose a threat to women’s daily lives, there is a complex cocktail of bacteria found in the vagina, also known as ‘vaginal flora’ which offer a balanced environment preventing harmful bacterias from growing to large numbers.
Based on one study, the DBC claim that Staphylococcus aureus bacteria is present in 10% of female vaginas in such high numbers that the placenta would be considered contaminated (as a food product) at birth. However what the DBC continue to ignore is the basic mechanics of childbirth and they fail to put their claim into perspective. The mechanics of a vaginal childbirth allow for a full cleansing of the vagina during birth, with the baby passing through the vaginal canal followed by large amounts of amniotic fluid. The placenta is born between 10-120 minutes later. Technically, the vagina has a ‘cleanse’ prior to the placental birth and therefore any levels of bacteria in the vagina prior to birth would be significantly lowered simply through the basic mechanics of a vaginal childbirth. Furthermore, if 10% of female vaginas are so ridden with bacteria as the DBC suggest, surely 10% of men who practice oral sex with those said females would be suffering from food poisoning after oral sex. Oral sex would therefore be widely reported as a health risk from Health Authorities, the NHS and EHO (Environmental Health Office) for causing food poisoning. This is most certainly not the case and it is public knowledge that practicing oral sex does not cause food poisoning. IPEN’s microbiologist Slim Dinsdale, a food hygiene expert with over 30 years experience, does not agree with the DBC and does not believe there is any food poisoning risk to the mother when consuming her own placenta as long as the placenta is chilled and stored properly after birth.
Professor Pennington, supporting the claims of the DBC said openly in court, mothers who have cesarean sections will have a ‘contaminant free’ placenta and consuming the placenta would not pose any risk as long as the placenta is stored and chilled properly after birth. However, when Lynnea Shrief asked the DBC by email in November 2013 if cesarean born placentas fall under the hygiene notices, they said yes and Lynnea was prevented from offering placenta services to mothers who had a cesarean birth. This shows the DBC’s lack of understanding of their own fears.
IPEN has had a safe and effective food hygiene system in place since 2010. We ensure our mothers chill their placentas on plenty of ice almost immediately after birth and we provide them with the information on how to handle their placenta safely. Mothers who chose to benefit from our placenta services do so to improve their health; their placenta is high priority in their birth plan and they take the chilling guidelines we supply very seriously. Lynnea Shrief has written many IPEN documents that help the midwife at birth, the mother after birth and the Placenta Specialist with the services. All IPEN Specialists are highly trained, have food hygiene certificates and are very informed in food hygiene and food safety practices.
To confirm, the hygiene notices and the court hearing was not brought on by any report of food poisoning, illness or negative side effect. As far as IPEN is aware, there has never been a report of food poisoning relating to the consumption of human placenta anywhere in the World. This case and the hygiene notices were served in speculation, the DBC believing they are protecting mothers from their own placentas. The DBC feel mothers are too distracted to care for their placentas properly and their vaginas are too contaminated to allow the consumption of their own placenta. IPEN disagrees, we believe mothers are educated, informed and intelligent enough to make a balanced and informed choice about what they would like to do with their placentas after birth. IPEN clients have help and support in place during and after birth assisting them to care for their placentas. IPEN Specialists and IPEN clients feel strongly that the law should not dictate how a mother should handle her own birth or her placenta and we feel a negative verdict would breach the human rights of mothers in the Dacorum borough.
Lynnea Shrief and IPEN would like to take this opportunity to thank the many hundreds of women and men who have written, emailed, blogged, tweeted and facebooked their support to IPEN over the last 5 months. We couldn’t have gotten through this difficult time without you.