Health row as business that provides placenta smoothies for new mums is shut down

Director of the Independent Placenta Encapsulation Network (IPEN) Lynnea Shrief
Director of the Independent Placenta Encapsulation Network (IPEN) Lynnea Shrief

The owner of a business that processes placentas for new mothers to eat and drink has been taken to court in the first case of its kind in Europe.

Director of the Independent Placenta Encapsulation Network (IPEN) Lynnea Shrief, 30, has been providing the service from her Ridgeway home in Berkhamsted for more than two years.

Placenta PNL-140905-110047001

Placenta PNL-140905-110047001

You can see a video we made about it in 2012 by clicking here

Her business became so popular that in October last year, she says she was called to Watford General Hospital to give a talk to trainee midwives about it.

But soon afterwards, Dacorum Borough Council’s environmental health officers issued two Hygiene Emergency Prohibition Notices to shut down her operation.

The authority says an ‘imminent risk to health’ was identified before the action in October and December.

Mrs Shrief said: “In this situation, the way that they acted was out of poor judgement and fear rather than an intelligent and educated decision.

“It is a nationally recognised service now, particularly with midwives and it certainly wouldn’t be if there were any reports of illness or food poisoning.

“It is a safe service and I fully believe that.”

District Judge Annabel Pilling will decide by the end of next week if the notices should be revoked after hearing both sides of the argument at Watford Magistrates Court.

Food hygiene expert Slim Dundale, speaking for Mrs Shrief, said the placenta can be stored at above 8oC for up to six hours and still be safe to eat.

For the council, microbiologist professor Hugh Pennington said placentas are unsafe to eat because of the bacteria staphylococcus aureus, found in the vagina of one in 10 women.

After birth it could unknowingly be passed onto the placenta, he said.

A council spokesman said: “Dacorum Borough Council has a duty to enforce food safety legislation and protect public health. It is concerned only with the food hygiene practices of this case.

“IPEN Ltd doesn’t fall within the remit of the Food Hygiene Rating Scheme, so does not appear on the Food Standards Agency website.

“There are no recognised standards for human placenta consumption or food production.”

Mrs Shrief’s business catered for between eight and 10 women a month before it was shut down in October.

They would pay £150 to have their placenta converted into capsules – usually between 100 and 200 – for consumption, and some even bought a placenta smoothie for £25.

There are 102 members of IPEN around the world who offer the same service as Mrs Shrief.

She said: “Last year, we only had 60 – so it’s almost doubling every year.”

But since the council’s case was launched, almost 10 women have pulled out of the training IPEN provides in preparing placentas for consumption.

Mrs Shrief says ingesting the organ after birth can help women produce more breast milk, bleed less and that it reduces the likelihood of getting post-natal depression.