Imported breast milk

Published: 16 June 2017

Breast Milk

Should Australia be importing human breast milk?

A baby drinking milk formula. 
Image © 2017AP Image/Queensland University of Technology

NeoLacta Lifesciences is an Indian company that sells human breast milk, and as of last year, were granted an import permit by the Department of Agriculture to sell in Australia, as reported by ABC.

Their website says that they “have developed this technology in Australia,” and are offering “ready-to-feed human milk.”

There are currently breastmilk banks in operation in Victoria, Queensland, New South Wales and Western Australia, which all serve to help malnourished babies. However, all these banks currently do not provide human breastmilk to anybody outside of a hospital.

NeoLacta’s milk will not be available to the general public. They have instead been in touch with Australian hospitals to supply their milk to neonatal wards. It states on their website that their milk is intended for “premature babies… low birth weight babies… and to provide an alternative for low/non-lactating mothers.”

However, there are concerns the imported milk may pose a health risk, which may include the transmission of such diseases as HIV, syphilis, or hepatitis.

The Department of Agriculture currently has strong biosecurity measures to make sure Australian food products do not pose a health risk, but breastmilk does not go through the same rigorous testing.

For some, the benefit may outweigh the risk, with some cancer patients and body builders sourcing human breastmilk for alleged remedial purposes.

Breastmilk currently sells overseas for at least 300-dollars per liter, so if the risk factors don’t put people off, the price just might.