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The US Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recently issued a statement urging parents to stop taking their encapsulated placenta, after an infant became sick from late-onset GBS bacteremia. The infant’s mother was consuming her encapsulated placenta, and it was confirmed that the placenta capsules she was taking contained GBS bacteria


Global News reported
 that even though “there’s no way of knowing that the placenta pills were the definitive culprit in sparking the baby’s illness,” the CDC is recommending moms stop taking placenta pills.

The potential for transmission of disease through postpartum placenta consumption is not a new idea to our team at Chinook City Doulas. We have been loud, some might even say unabashed, in our call for higher standards and regulation within the industry. It’s troublesome (to say the least) that the placenta encapsulation industry remains unregulated, especially as the practice of placenta consumption has come into high demand.

With the support of our certifying body ProDoula LLC, Chinook City Doulas has independently established strict standards and procedures to prevent the acquisition and spread of pathogens through placenta encapsulation. Several points made within the CDC statement provide insight into how the placenta may have been improperly handled, reinforcing why we follow ProDoula’s standards when preparing placenta capsules for Calgary families.  Let’s dissect some of those points and talk about why we’re different.

“The mother confirmed that she had registered with Company A to pick up and encapsulate her placenta for ingestion.”

Perhaps you’ve been wondering why many of the most popular placenta service providers in town pick up your placenta and deliver your capsules to you, while Chinook City Doulas insists you transport your placenta home and have us come to you to perform the placenta encapsulation process?

Let’s explain.

No one has confirmed whether or not the placenta actually belonged to the mother taking the contaminated capsules. She had previously tested negative for GBS bacteria and, although she could have become GBS positive after the test, the fact remains that the placenta capsules she was taking could have contained someone else’s placenta. Mistakes happen. Or, the placenta may have been hers but been exposed to GBS bacteria through cross-contamination from another placenta in the company’s workspace.

Our clients keep their placenta under their control and in their space, eliminating the risk of mix-ups and cross-contamination between placentas.

“According to Company A’s website, the placenta is cleaned, sliced, and dehydrated at 46°C–71°C (115°F–160°F), then ground and placed into about 115–200 gelatin capsules, and stored at room temperature.”

It is imperative that the placenta is steamed to a food-safe internal temperature of at least 71°C (160°F). All meats should be thoroughly cooked prior to ingesting, and this standard includes the encapsulated placenta. The company that was confirmed as the service provider in the case of the sick baby states that the placenta is merely cleaned before being dehydrated.  The company also states that the placenta is dehydrated at a temperature between 46°C and 71°C (115°F and 160°F). This may mean the placenta was kept at a temperature that actually increased bacterial growth rather than inhibiting it.

Storing the placenta capsules at room temperature may have also further increased bacterial growth. Meat products prepared for consumption, including placenta capsules, should be stored in the fridge or freezer.

Our Postpartum Placenta Specialists ensure every placenta is dehydrated at a temperature of at least 71°C (160°F) after being steamed thoroughly, to significantly reduce salmonella and similar bacteria like GBS. We recommend capsules be stored in the fridge or freezer and that they are not stored long term.

We will continue to provide the service of placenta encapsulation to our Calgary clients. Should regulations come into place (and we hope they do), we will do what it takes to uphold the standards and protect your health. We continue to advocate for safer practices within the Calgary area by working with medical care providers and ProDoula to provide education and information about placenta encapsulation through workshops, presentations, and training programs for the right individuals.

Be Picky About Your Placenta Service Provider

When choosing a professional to provide placenta encapsulation services to you, be sure to confirm that:

  • Your placenta will remain in your care and control.
  • You are given and that you follow storage and transportation procedures prior to having the placenta made into capsules.
  • Your placenta will be cooked to a food-safe internal temperate and prepared following Canadian Food Safety Guidelines.
  • Your placenta will be dehydrated at a temperature above the food “danger zone” of 4 to 60 °C (39 to 140 °F).
  • Your capsules are stored in the fridge or freezer and not stored long-term (see Canadian Food Safety Guidelines for organ meats).
  • The service provider has professional liability insurance.
  • The person encapsulating your placenta has been trained in person by a recognized certifying body and has the Canadian Bloodborne Pathogens Certification.

Our clients can feel confident that their capsules were prepared with the utmost caution. We do not feel the need to suggest that any of our clients stop taking their placenta capsules unless they feel the need to or they are directed to do so by their medical care provider.

To learn more about the dangers of placenta encapsulation and how to avoid them see 5 Placenta Encapsulation Risks and How to Avoid Them.

For more information on choose a service provider for your postpartum placenta encapsulation in Calgary read Questions to Ask Your Placenta Professional and More Questions to Ask Your Placenta Professional.

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