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September 17, 2008 7:00 PM   Subscribe

Curiosity-filter: Why can't we drink primate milk?

I was reading this ridiculous article when I came across this:

"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," Rolf Etter of the Zurich food control laboratory said."

Why are apes on the banned list? Seems like if they were our closest relatives, there would be no real harm in drinking their milk. Where is this banned/ approved list?
posted by Ugh to Food & Drink (10 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
 
Our closest relatives carry the diseases that infect us most easily.
posted by mr_roboto at 7:08 PM on September 17, 2008


Breastmilk is one of those body fluids that can transmit diseases. Since they are "our closest relatives," we can catch their diseases (zoonoses).
posted by fiercecupcake at 7:08 PM on September 17, 2008


Cows are common, relatively docile, and large. Plus, you really don't want to catch some common monkey viruses.
posted by Science! at 7:38 PM on September 17, 2008


Also, babies drink primate milk all the time.
posted by advil at 7:39 PM on September 17, 2008


see Economy of scale. You could drink pasteurized monkey milk. But at the amounts in which it is currently produced (if?), it would cost far more than you (or anyone) would want to pay.
posted by kuujjuarapik at 7:59 PM on September 17, 2008


Where is this banned/ approved list?

Also, if monkey milk is not currently or traditionally a part of a nation's diet, why would you expect that nation to spend it's resources declaring it safe to eat? It's far easier for health authorities to draw a list of approved foods that includes foods that exist in a culture, rather than make a list that excludes foods that no one eats anyway.
posted by kuujjuarapik at 8:07 PM on September 17, 2008


I understand it's impractical, I understand it would be too expensive for it to be a viable option, what I didn't understand is why it would be specifically banned but the virus information explains that to me.

I'm not expecting any nation to spend its resources making a list of banned species, but the article implies that someone has done this, so i'd still like to see it.
posted by Ugh at 8:34 PM on September 17, 2008


The disease thing shouldnt be an issue if its pasteurized.

Just speculating here -
I think its banned because they're too much like us. (if you ever hold a baby orangutan (we did at a zoo once), you get chills and fall in love). Maybe people think that if we drink monkey milk that creates a cultural bond between two very close species and that may lead to psychological difficulties? Its easier to look at a beast as ridiculous looking as a cow and go "yea, thats for milk and meat and clothing, couldnt possibly be good for anything else". Maybe therefore its a 'brand differentiation' issue, really.
posted by jak68 at 11:13 PM on September 17, 2008


Maybe therefore its a 'brand differentiation' issue, really.

I doubt it. Have you ever seen a National Geographic spread about people cooking and eating monkeys or apes? Their skinned corpses look just like us, exactly like us. Yet people still hunt and eat them regularly (also risking infection from some really freaking nasty viruses).
posted by Science! at 5:30 AM on September 18, 2008


The disease thing shouldnt be an issue if its pasteurized.
Ya'd think, but wasn't that part of the problem with the prion diseases that have been turning up? That they aren't heat-preventable?

Plus, you really don't want to catch some common monkey viruses.
You know what's worse than the Monkey B Virus? Monkey C Virus. As in, Monkey C, Monkey Do. It's terrifying because it's chronic.
posted by whatzit at 6:23 AM on September 18, 2008


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