I am normally a bit of a news junkie but I have been traveling this week so I haven’t had my normal newspaper fix. As a result of this the first I heard about the rather gruesome story from Peru was from a briefing note from the cosmetic manufacturers trade association. The note was assuring people that cosmetics are made to high standards and are fully assessed for safety prior to release. It sort of assumed you had read the news story which I hadn’t, so I got the impression that there was some sort of Sweeney Todd type of arrangement going on where people were being processed into bars of soap or pots of cream.
It was quite a scary thought.
Now I have read the actual press coverage I am both horrified, like everyone else would be, but also rather baffled.
It seems that the gang were murdering people and extracting fat from their bodies. Now it is certainly true that you could make cosmetic ingredients from human fat if you put you mind to it. Humans are just animals, and their fat is just as good as any other animal’s as a feedstock. But it is hardly a cost-effective. Most large domestic animals have a lot more fat than humans and you can kill them completely legally.
Is there anything special about human fat for cosmetic applications? I can’t think of any, though I suppose you could argue that it will contain broadly the same chemicals that you would find in the skin so it might be more compatible. I don’t really buy that suggestion, but I suppose a marketing person could make a story out of it. Human fat is of course available from cosmetic surgery if you really wanted it. You would probably have some legal hurdles to jump over to get it on the market – but less than if you killed someone of course. I find it hard to believe that there is much of a black market in human fat. If there were, it would still make more sense to raid a plastic surgeons after he had done a liposuction than to kill a Peruvian peasant. You’d get a lot more fat and a much shorter sentence if you got caught.
As I say, I am both horrified and baffled.