Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Breastmilk in the brownie batter...

This morning, I happened to see a post by Sanctimommy that made me gasp with surprise and amusement.  It was from a mom who had made brownies for her child's school bake sale.  She found herself short of both milk and the time to get to the store to buy more.  So she whipped out a breast and used breastmilk for her recipe, adding that she thought some of the kids could use the nutrition.  Other moms found out about it and were very upset.  The Sanctimommy, who felt she was doing some of the kids a favor by sharing her breastmilk with them, didn't know what to do.

I shared that post on my own page and immediately got two diametrically opposed opinions.  One lady agreed with me when I posted that it was a stupid thing to do.  Another lady disagreed and felt the moms were blowing things out of proportion.  She pointed out that cooking the brownies would likely kill any organisms that might make someone sick.  And, yes, granted this was milk from a human being.  One could argue that milk from a fellow human is even more appropriate for kids than is cow's milk.

I understand that cooking things destroys germs and some moms use breastmilk in recipes.  On the other hand, I still think it's wrong to use breastmilk in a recipe intended for a bake sale.  The main reason I think it's wrong is exactly because of the reaction the woman got when people found out she did it.  Not every parent knows about food safety, and so the idea of another mother's milk in a donated baked good intended for a bake sale might cause them to worry.  It's one thing to make your child cereal using your breastmilk.  It's YOUR kid and it's YOUR breastmilk and you know where you've been and what you've consumed.  It's quite another to serve someone food made with your bodily fluids without their knowledge or permission.

Heat does kill germs, but there are some serious diseases that can be passed through breastmilk.  HIV is one infection that can be passed through mother's milk.  Even though the risk of passing a disease to someone through cooked breastmilk is very small, the risk (or even just the perceived risk) is not quite non-existent.  In the United States, if someone uses commercially prepared milk, we know it's been pasteurized.  But raw milk from a human breast could come from anywhere and there is no gauging the quality or its safety.  On the other hand, I suppose the same could be said about any bake sale good.  There's always a risk of some sort.

I was curious about bake sale rules and if they exist, so I did a search.  Here's a list of rules made by one health department.   As you can see in that list, any product made with raw milk is prohibited.  I would guess that would include breastmilk.  Granted, here in Europe, raw milk is widely available and people eat cheese made with raw milk all the time.  But in the United States, it's not allowed.  And even if it was allowed, I can't imagine that most parents in the average public school would be alright with such a "crunchy" idea.  In many places, you can't even send your kid to school with a PBJ anymore, so why would brownies made with breastmilk be okay?

If I were to make brownies laced with whisky for a school bake sale, I would expect a lot of parents would be upset, even though the amount of alcohol in such a recipe is negligible and would likely burn off during the cooking process.  Many parents don't want alcohol near their kids, even if it's just used for flavoring.  And some might privately be okay with it, but simply don't want to give people the wrong idea about their parenting skills.  People will call the authorities at the drop of a hat nowadays, so many parents don't want to appear to be negligent.

A few years ago, there was a well-publicized case of a mom getting arrested because she was breastfeeding her baby in public after having downed a couple of glasses of beer.  Even though scientific and medical evidence shows that the baby she was feeding was likely in little danger, the perception was that she was harming the child.  Many people are extremely ignorant about these things.  To me, it simply wouldn't be worth the risk to use breastmilk in a recipe intended for public consumption, even if I could turn it into a "teaching" moment.  

We live in a world where kids can't even play alone outside without the threat of someone calling CPS.  Who in their right mind would even risk using breastmilk in a recipe for a kids' bake sale?  You're just asking for parents to panic.  Shit... I wonder how the other parents even found out about the breastmilk?  If you were to use it in a recipe, why would you tell anyone else?

Sadly, the discussion on my Facebook page went a bit south when one of the posters left a snarky comment about how Americans don't understand breastmilk.  I understand and support breastfeeding wholeheartedly.  I even support moms who donate breastmilk.  But to me, it's simply common sense not to use a product from your boobs in recipes intended for general public consumption.  It's just not worth the reaction other people are going to have.  And that conclusion doesn't make me ignorant, out of touch, unsupportive, or hysterical.  You want breastmilk in your baked goods?  Make them for your own family.



  1. The woman sounds like an absolute moron. I'm a bit squeamish, and I almost threw up when I read about it.

    Even though this makes me about as stupid as the woman about whom you wrote, I'm really glad twenty-two years after the fact that I was not breastfed. (My mom had only enough mile for one of us, and Matthew got it because he was strong enough to nurse right after we were born.) As gross as infant formula is, breast milk is even grosser to me. I'll still probably try to breastfeed any kid that I have, but I will not pump and store it because breast milk grosses me out.

    1. Someone else posted that the original poster found out she was on Sanctimommy and was upset about it. She claims she was trolling and the milk was supposedly in the frosting, which would be grosser because you don't cook milk in frosting. :D

    2. I wasn't breastfed either, mainly because my mom couldn't be bothered. She tried breastfeeding my oldest sister and couldn't deal with the inconvenience, so we were all bottle fed. Bill was breastfed. I notice he and his mom are closer than my mom and I are.

    3. Matthew and my mom are closer than my mom and I are, but then, my dad and I are closer than Matthew and my dad are. Who knows if breastfeeding had anything to do with it or if it was just the family dynamic that would have been present with or without breastfeeding?

      If I have a baby, I will make a reasonable attempt at breast-feeding because I've been told that in addition to being beneficial health-wise for both the mother and baby, it's an easier way to go about things if the mother is able to stay home with the baby for awhile. It won't kill me if it doesn't work out, and I could never deal with having a breast pump be a significant part of my life. My mom said it was effortless for her to breastfeed Matthew. She didn't do anything to prepare in advance. A nurse brought him in to nurse when he was a day old, and everything went perfectly. I doubt my mother would have stuck with it for long had it been difficult, although two of her three older sisters and most of her sisters-in-law on her side of the family breastfed. I don't think most of the LDS mothers on my dad's side breastfed.


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