Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Local breast milk for sale in the US

Local breast milk for sale in the US

A woman breastfeeds her newborn child earlier this year at the Maternal and Child Health Center in Phnom Penh.
A woman breastfeeds her newborn child earlier this year at the Maternal and Child Health Center in Phnom Penh. Heng Chivoan

Local breast milk for sale in the US

A former Mormon missionary has established a company selling human breast milk harvested from Cambodian mothers to customers in the US.

Ambrosia Labs collects the milk at a premises in Phnom Penh’s Stung Meanchey district, according to local church members acquainted with the company. It is then frozen before being sent to the US and pasteurised.

According to the Orem, Utah, company’s website, the milk costs $45 for 450ml.

In a tariff ruling published online by US Customs and Border Protection, the product was to be “sold as a food item for infants and as a nutritional supplement for bodybuilders”.

Ambrosia Labs did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

However, in an interview with the Salt Lake Tribune published yesterday, founder Bronzson Woods said the mothers were paid between $0.50 and $1 for each 30ml of breast milk, which was collected twice a day. He said the donors’ children were required to be at least 6 months old, the age before which the World Health Organisation recommends infants to be fed exclusively breast milk.

“We don’t want to be taking milk out of children’s mouths,” Woods said.

Woods first came to Cambodia as a missionary with the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints and returned earlier this year to set up the breast milk “donation centre”. “If someone wants human milk, they should be able to get safe breast milk from a trusted supplier at a reasonable price,” Woods said.

In the US, human breast milk is only commercially available through milk banks – which only supply mothers for consumption by infants – and so-called “peer-to-peer” services where providers and buyers complete transactions over the internet.

Ambrosia Labs major selling point is quality control compared to the peer-to-peer sellers, which can be contaminated with diseases.

In recent years, human breast milk has been hailed as a cure-all and “super food” with various supposed benefits.

However, an article published in the Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine in June dismissed these purported benefits – which include boosting the immune system, increasing muscle mass, speeding recovery from exercise and curing erectile dysfuction.

“Such purported benefits do not stand up clinically, however,” the paper said. “Nutritionally, there is less protein in breast milk than other milks like cow’s milk. Chemical and environmental contaminants are known to make their way into breast milk, just like the food chain more broadly.

“No scientific study has evidenced that direct adult consumption of human milk for medicinal properties offers anything more than a placebo effect.”

Ros Sopheap, head of NGO Gender and Development for Cambodia, said there was a tradition in Cambodia of mothers breastfeeding the infants of neighbours who could not express milk temporarily. “Occasionally we help each other,” she said.

When asked what she thought of adults consuming breast milk, she laughed. “That’s very strange. This is the first time I’ve heard about it.”

MOST VIEWED

  • Hun Sen: Stop Russia sanctions

    Prime Minister Hun Sen said sanctions against Russia as a result of its military offensive in Ukraine should be stopped as they have produced no tangible results, and predicted that a global food crisis would ensue in 2023 as a consequence. Speaking to an audience at

  • Chinese tourists 2.0 – Coming anytime soon?

    Regional tourism is grappling with the absence of the prolific travellers and big spenders – the Chinese tourists. Cambodia, which has welcomed over two million Chinese tourists before Covid-19, is reeling from the economic loss despite being the first to fully open last November ‘To put

  • PM reflects on shoe throwing: Free speech or act of violence?

    Prime Minister Hun Sen on May 17 questioned whether a man who threw a shoe at him while he was in the US was exercising freedom of expression or if it was an act of hostility. Hun Sen was referring to an incident last week when

  • Prime Minister Hun Sen warmly welcomed by president Biden

    Prime Minister Hun Sen, as ASEAN chair, and other ASEAN leaders were warmly welcomed by US president Joe Biden as the ASEAN-US summit May 12-13 kicked off today in Washington. “This evening, I welcomed ASEAN leaders to the White House for the first time in

  • Prime Minister Hun Sen invites US president to attend summit in Cambodia

    Prime Minister Hun Sen personally invited US President Joe Biden to attend the ASEAN-US Summit which is set to be held in Cambodia in November, as ASEAN and the US are expected to upgrade their strategic partnership to a ‘comprehensive strategic partnership’, according to Prime

  • Siem Reap’s Angkor Botanical Garden opens

    The Angkor Botanical Garden was officially opened on May 19 with free entry for both local and international visitors for the first six weeks. The garden was established on a nearly 15ha plot of land in Siem Reap. “After the first six weeks, Angkor Botanical Garden