Another reason to be skeptical of e-commerce

No, there shouldn’t be reasons to be skeptical of e-commerce, but sadly reasons abound and we need to point them out whenever we spot any. This article addresses a first world problem but countries like ours are coming up strong in adopting online based businesses including e-commerce so highlighting them is advantageous as we will find ourselves in similar predicaments sooner than later.

Or a number of us could already in the predicaments. In the developed world (US and Europe), there are a number of mothers who for one reason or another do not want to breast-feed their babies but still would want to provide the rich nutrients that only breast milk can provide. This desire creates demand so supply, as usual, is bound to come hence business. Where, in the developed world, is the best place to transact such a business except through the Internet?

The business of selling/buying breast milk has existed for a while mainly via online sales. Experts have been worried over the years that the breast milk sold online could be contaminated with pathogens such E. coli and so they decided to do a study on the same.

In the study, researchers bought online milk and analyzed them for a variety of pathogens and found out that “Most (74%) Internet milk samples were colonized with Gram-negative bacteria or had >104 colony-forming units/mL total aerobic count. They exhibited higher mean total aerobic, total Gram-negative, coliform, and Staphylococcus sp counts than milk bank samples. Growth of most species was positively associated with days in transit (total aerobic count [log10colony-forming units/mL] ? = 0.71 [95% confidence interval: 0.38–1.05]), and negatively associated with number of months since the milk was expressed (? = ?0.36 [95% confidence interval: ?0.55 to ?0.16]), per simple linear regression. No samples were HIV type 1 RNA-positive; 21% of Internet samples were cytomegalovirus DNA-positive.”

Given the results the researchers concluded that “Human milk purchased via the Internet exhibited high overall bacterial growth and frequent contamination with pathogenic bacteria, reflecting poor collection, storage, or shipping practices. Infants consuming this milk are at risk for negative outcomes, particularly if born preterm or are medically compromised. Increased use of lactation support services may begin to address the milk supply gap for women who want to feed their child human milk but cannot meet his or her needs.” Read the abstract here.

And so if you are a mother contemplating to buy breast milk online, think twice. Fathers, please continue pressing that your kids be breast fed using mother’s on milk.

What does this mean for e-commerce in general especially for us whose regulatory authorities don’t care that food stuffs bought normally comply with minimum hygienic standards? Are we ready to fully embrace online markets and shops for food items?

In Kenya today the food stuffs sold online are mainly cakes and maybe Pizza. But it won’t be long before we start ordering Nyama Choma Online. I just gave you a business idea right there!


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