Blog: Dean BestMilking it for all it's worth

Dean Best | 30 September 2008

Animal rights group PETA has hit the headlines after sending a letter to Ben & Jerry’s suggesting that they substitute the cows’ milk currently used to make their much-loved ice cream with – you got it – human breast milk. 

According to The Independent, PETA EVP Tracy Reiman wrote: "Using cows' milk for your ice cream is a hazard to your customers' health. Dairy products have been linked to juvenile diabetes, allergies, constipation, obesity, and prostate and ovarian cancer.

"Animals will also benefit from the switch to breast milk. Like all mammals, cows only produce milk during and after pregnancy, so to be able to constantly milk them, cows are forcefully impregnated every nine months."

Fortunately, it seems unlikely that “nipple ripple” will be joining the likes of phish food, cookie dough and cherry garcia in Ben & Jerry’s unconventional line-up of flavours.

Aside from the yuck-factor, which should certainly not be underestimated, there is the laughable impracticality of the whole idea. Perhaps the folks at PETA were picturing dairy farms filled with lactating women when they concocted this scheme. More likely they were thinking of the media attention such a controversial suggestion would generate.

While mothers’ milk ice cream might not represent much of a threat to the industry, dairy farmers facing rising costs and falling prices remained unimpressed.

"Dairy foods have been in the diet for thousands of years. The reality of chronic diseases is that they are an interaction between genes, the environment and the diet, and these negative stories about dairy are a misrepresentation of science," Dr Judith Bryans, director of the Dairy Council, told The Independent.

With this graphic image, PETA has done little to undermine the dairy sector or, in my opinion, open a constructive dialogue on our treatment of cattle. But it does make you shudder to imagine how the publicity-hungry animal crusaders will use spokeswoman Pamela Anderson in this promotion.

Katy Humphries, deputy editor


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