Authorities veto chef's breast milk menu

By Eveline Harvey

A Swiss restaurant owner who wanted to sell dishes containing human breast milk has been forced to abandon his plans by local authorities.

Hans Locher, proprietor and chef at the Storchen restaurant in Winterthur, canton Zurich, attracted wide-spread media attention last week after he placed advertisements in German newspapers requesting donations of human milk.

Locher said he planned to prepare local specialities such as Zürcher Geschnetzeltes - a meat stew - with sauces containing at least 75 per cent human breast milk.

He told Switzerland's 20 Minuten Online he first experimented with the use of breast milk in cooking when his daughter was born 35 years ago.

"One can cook really delicious things with it but it always needs to be mixed with a bit of whipped cream, in order to keep the consistency," he said.

Locher said his plan to offer human milk meals was sparked when he noticed there were a lot of new mothers in the restaurant's neighbourhood.

"One evening I thought that they must have a lot of extra breast milk that I could do something with," he told the Swissinfo website.

"I remembered the excellent results of my previous experiments and dug out some of my old recipes."

Locher planned to offer lactating women CHF6.50 (NZ$8.70) per 400ml of milk provided.

Despite the controversy surrounding his proposal, local authorities were initially unsure whether Locher's idea was legal or not.

"Humans as producers of milk are simply not envisaged in the legislation," Rolf Etter of the Zurich food control laboratory told Zurich's Tages Anzeiger newspaper.

"They are not on the list of approved species such as cows and sheep, but they are also not on the list of the banned species such as apes and primates."

However the authorities concluded Locher would not be able to properly store the milk or guarantee its freshness and threatened him - and any women he bought milk from - with legal action if he pursued his plan.

Locher told Swissinfo he was surprised at the media attention and disappointed he would not be able to serve his human milk recipes.

He said he had received several responses from interested donors but had not had a chance to collect any milk before the authorities intervened.

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