There is currently a large amount of media attention surrounding the topic of women eating their own placentas after an IPEN specialist was forced to UK magistrate court last week to save her business. IPEN will discuss the case below as well as the suspected health risks surrounding our specialist practice and how IPEN Specialists have gone to great lengths to ensure and prove that all and any potential health risks of placenta consumption are eliminated during processing.
The Swindon Case
Swindon Borough Council failed to close down IPEN Placenta Specialist Kathryn Beale last Tuesday. Without warning, without a proper inspection and without review of Kathryn’s documentation and processes, Swindon Council served Kathryn a Hygiene Emergency Prohibition Notice on the claim that her services were a ‘serious risk to human health’. Magistrate court did not allow the closure of Kathryn’s placenta business and determined her business was not an imminent risk to health. Kathryn will continue to work with Swindon council to help them understand her placenta services in more detail and discuss their concerns of food safety. A proper inspection of her premises and documentation will also be carried out by her local environmental health officers. Kathryn Beale’s placenta business is not under investigation.
About IPEN Specialists
IPEN Placenta Specialists are highly trained birth support workers who have been working with pregnant and birthing women for many years. As part of their training, each specialist is required to also have detailed training in food safety and must have up-to-date certificates in Food Safety, Food Hygiene and Infection Control. We are professional specialists who pride ourselves on offering safe, supportive, accessible and reliable placenta services, supporting new mothers who wish to consume their own placenta after birth.
Food Safety Processes of IPEN Specialists
The food safety processes IPEN placenta specialists use when making placenta remedies for new mothers meet all current UK and EU food safety and food hygiene regulations and we are confident that our services are safe. We provide our clients with detailed information on how to store their placentas safely and we provide their midwives/obstetricians with detailed information on how to safely handle a placenta intended for consumption. Our clients feel supported and confident with the level of information they are provided by their placenta specialist; preparing themselves and their birth partners for the extra work involved in caring for their placentas after birth.
Microbiological Review of IPEN Food Safety Processes
Our placenta processes are detailed in a Food Safety Management System and HACCP (Hazard Analysis Critical Control Points) written by food safety expert Melissa Thompson. IPEN’s placenta processing has been previously reviewed by food safety microbiologist Dr. Slim Dinsdale in 2013. IPEN’s current food safety management system was recently and independently reviewed by food, water, environmental and public health microbiologist Melody Greenwood in early 2015. Ms Greenwood recently finalised a lengthy and detailed analysis of our processes in response to health risk accusations made by Swindon, Dacorum, Brighton and Richmond borough councils. The food safety experts mentioned above are confident IPEN’s processes are safe, meet all government food safety regulations and eliminate all risks associated with placenta processing. The health risk accusations made by the councils above were not brought on by any type of incident, client complaint or food poisoning case, but are merely an over reaction to ‘a fear of the unknown’, because until recently, the placenta had not been previously reviewed in detail from a ‘food safety’ perspective.
Working with Environmental Health Officers
IPEN placenta specialists would like nothing more than work alongside their local environmental health officers and come to a working solution for the fair and unprejudiced regulation of our services. We acknowledge our services are unique however we ask that as with any other food business, time and patience is allowed for the clear understanding, review and acceptance of our services. Despite multiple requests, many of our specialists have been refused or denied the ‘food business right’ of a detailed food safety inspection by their environmental health officers and have been threatened with court action if they do not succumb to voluntary closure. Attempts to reopen their businesses have been denied with vague responses and unattainable requests, despite our submissions of the new microbiological analysis of placenta processing from a food hygiene perspective. IPEN specialists have always been proactive in trying to legitimise our businesses. We have all the paperwork in place and have responded to every challenge set by environmental health and the FSA. We’ve been met with prejudice, lack of support and lack of co-operation, despite trying to work collaboratively. Despite many requests for clarity, we still have yet to understand exactly what the accused ‘serious health risks’ of placenta processing are, as it has already been determined by several independent experts that all risks have been eliminated. We continue to wait for a detailed explanation of a ‘serious health risk’ associated with our services as the councils mentioned above have yet to provide any such evidence.
The UK Food Standards Agency and possible Novel Food Classification
The Food Standards Agency have been reviewing human placenta as a novel food since June 2014. IPEN submitted a lengthy dossier of evidence in July 2014 as proof that a novel food classification is not appropriate for a woman’s placenta nor should placenta services fall under this regulation as we do not sell, market or distribute placenta products to the public. As far as we are aware, the Food Standards Agency have not come to a final decision on the novel food status of human placenta. The FSA website does not list human placenta as under review as a novel food, nor does it list human placenta as a novel food.
IPEN strongly disagrees with a novel food classification of human placenta and has been running a petition against this action. IPEN specialists do not sell, market or distribute placenta products; we offer a personal and specialised one-to-one service only. If determined novel, any person, outside of immediate family, who prepares a mother’s placenta for her own consumption, even the birthing mother’s own midwife, could face up to £20,000 in fines and even jail time. We believe a novel food regulation would be an unjustifiable ‘over regulation’ and infringement of human rights.
What really matters – Mother’s Choice
Within the detailed and ongoing inspection and analysis of food safety surrounding placenta services, the most important person involved in these decisions has been forgotten. The Mother. Mother’s in the UK and around the world are requesting help from trained placenta specialists on a daily basis. Most women who wish to consume their placenta after birth are passionately invested in their health during and after birth and therefore invest their time and money in hiring a professional to support them with their choice. A women’s right to choose a professional placenta specialist is a personal and human right, just like it is a women’s right to choose where she would like to give birth. The over regulation and closure of placenta businesses is infringing on the human rights of mothers, surpassing the available options for post-natal health and recovery and subsequently resulting in more women and their partners feeling unsupported and alone. While the popularity for placenta services increases, we urge environmental health officers to reconsider their actions. Without trained professionals available to support women who wish to consume their own placenta, there will be an increased risk of improper handling and processing of placentas by friends and relatives who aren’t properly trained and may make mistakes that could have severe consequences to the mother’s health.
Founded by: Lynnea Shrief
Number of IPEN Placenta Specialists worldwide: 72
Estimated number of UK mothers who have used our services since 2009: 4,000+
Reported benefits of consuming the placenta after birth: reduced post-natal bleeding, increased milk supply, improved energy levels, absence of depression or baby-blues, regulation of post-natal hormones.
Most popular placenta service: placenta encapsulation