Placenta smoothie-maker in Swindon investigated

A mixture of fruit in a blender Image copyright Thinkstock
Image caption Mother-of-two Kathryn Beale offers smoothies containing fresh placenta, fruit and juices

A woman who uses raw placenta to make smoothies for new mothers is being investigated by health officials.

Mothers pay Kathryn Beale, 41, from Swindon, to blend an 8cm (3in) long piece of their fresh placenta with fruit and juices.

Her local council is concerned about hygiene standards but has failed to get court permission to halt the business.

Miss Beale said she operated safely and had voluntarily stopped until health inspectors could meet her.

Image copyright Science Photo Library
Image caption Some believe the nutrients still inside the organ should not be wasted

"I understand that they have to make sure that all food business are running safely," said Miss Beale, a mother-of-two.

"I think they have been a bit overzealous in trying to shut me down without doing a full inspection. I believe that I do it safely."

She describes herself as a birth and postnatal doula, who runs support groups and is also an "IPEN-licensed placenta encapsulation specialist".

As well as the smoothies, the services also includes dehydrating placenta and grinding it into powder for capsules which can be swallowed later.

The encapsulation service costs £150, the smoothie is £20 extra and she also offers a £60-£80 service to set an umbilical cord in resin.

What is the placenta?

The placenta is an organ attached to the lining of the womb during pregnancy, and linked to the baby by the umbilical cord.

It passes oxygen and nutrients from the mother's blood supply to the baby.

Waste products from the baby, such as carbon dioxide, pass back along the umbilical cord to the placenta.

After the baby is born, more contractions will push the placenta out - or it will be lifted from the womb during a Caesarean.

Source: NHS Choices

Swindon Borough Council said its officers attended court on 10 March "seeking a hygiene emergency prohibition order in respect of raw human placenta practices" but the order was not granted.

"Our investigations continue and we are therefore unable to comment further at this stage."

It explained its action by saying the health benefits were not clear and the processes involved present a number of potentially serious health risks.

Miss Beale, who has been in the business for two years, said she had around two customers a month and added there were 50 people around the country offering similar services.

"There is no eating of anyone else's placenta. It is all quite tightly controlled, stored properly and chilled," she said.

"Everything has to be cleaned and sterilised and there is quite strict hygiene involved.

"I only prepare placenta smoothies when I am with the mother in her home or at her private hospital room because she needs to drink it straight away."

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