Placenta smoothies firm in Hertfordshire shut down over ‘health risk’

A placenta which has been ground and turned into tablets

A placenta which has been ground and turned into tablets - Credit: Archant

A company which makes raw placenta smoothies for mothers to drink after giving birth has been shut down over concerns it “poses an imminent risk to health”.

Lynnea Shrief, director of IPEN, has had her business shut down

Lynnea Shrief, director of IPEN, has had her business shut down - Credit: Archant

The founder of the Independent Placenta Encapsulation Network (IPEN), Lynnea Shrief, says she has made placenta smoothies or capsules for about 20 mothers in Stevenage and North Herts.

Powdered placenta

Powdered placenta - Credit: Archant

A Hygiene Emergency Prohibition Order on IPEN, which is based in Berkhamsted, was granted by Watford Magistrates’ Court last Wednesday, enabling Dacorum Borough Council (DBC) to shut the business down.

IPEN makes raw placenta smoothies, as well as grinding dehydrated placenta and putting it into capsules, for mothers to consume after birth.

Ms Shrief told the Comet: “It’s packed full of hormones and vitamins and minerals. It’s like giving yourself a blood transfusion after birth.”

She says women who eat their own placenta bleed less after giving birth, produce more breast milk, experience fewer mood swings, and never suffer from postnatal depression.

About her decision to set up IPEN, Ms Shrief said: “In 2006 I struggled to produce enough breast milk for my first born. In 2009, after my second child, I cooked up my placenta and ate it. I had two children to look after and I had so much energy, and my skin is still incredible.”

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She began her placenta business in 2009 and moved to Hertfordshire the following year, when it was registered with DBC.

In 2013 Ms Shrief was visited by a health protection officer from the council, which subsequently applied to the court for a Hygiene Emergency Prohibition Order after it said it found the business was not following the Food Hygiene (England) Regulations 2006.

The order – to prohibit the use of raw or cooked placenta in foods for human consumption – was upheld after a district judge was satisfied a placenta could be contaminated with the bacteria staphylococcus aureus, and so “poses an imminent risk to health.”

Ms Shrief says she has been told she cannot run the business until she has a system in place to verify that clients keep their placentas appropriately chilled after birth.

Kirsty Needham, who lives in Central Bedfordshire, used Ms Shrief’s services after she gave birth to her daughter at Lister Hospital in Stevenage in November.

The 32-year-old, who has had her placenta cooked and grinded into tablets for her to consume, said: “I had a C-section and having the tablets has really helped with my recovery. They are like happy pills. I was given 108 tablets and I started off with taking one a day. I take them with water and they taste like pro-biotic tablets.

“For me, it’s the most natural thing. I feel upset about what is happening to Lynnea, what could be more natural than something that provided life support to your baby?”

Councillor Neil Harden, the council’s portfolio holder for residents and regulatory services, said: “We took this action in order to protect public health by ensuring food products from establishments in the borough are safe to eat and will not cause disease or ill health.

“We take court action as a last resort. I am pleased this outcome means we have set a standard for businesses that deal with raw, processed or cooked placenta.”

Ms Shrief said revised food safety documents will be sent to the council this week, which she hopes will lead to the ban being lifted.