New 'Selfmade' Cheese Produced Using Human Bacteria

Dennis Faas's picture

Scientists have developed a new food source: human beings. But we're not talking cannibalism here; instead, researchers have developed a new type of cheese that is made entirely from human by-products, like toe jam and belly button bacteria.

The new -- and somewhat stomach-turning -- cheese is the work of scientist Christina Agapakis and scent specialist Sissel Tolaas. Together, Agapakis and Tolaas assembled a variety of bacteria samples from human donors.

"Selfmade" Cheese "A Little Bit Funky"

The project is known as "Selfmade" and it's easy to see where the name comes from: cheese was made from human tears, toe jam, belly button goo, and material collected through nose, mouth, and armpit swabs.

Several prominent artists and authors participated in the project, including food writer Michael Pollen, sculptor Olafur Eliasson, art curator Hans-Ulrich Obrist, and cheesemaker Seana Doughty.

Doughty said she hoped her cheese would be both "flavourful" and "a little bit funky." (Source:

Unsurprisingly, the cheese produced using this bacteria smells and tastes like body odor (BO). That's led Agapakis and Tolaas to name their various blends after the people who contributed bodily fluids.

For example, there's a "Ben" cheese and a "Christina" cheese.

But even though there's a hint of BO in the aroma, overall the Selfmade cheese reportedly smells a lot like other "stinky" cheeses, such as Stilton and Limburger.

Project Designed to Get People Talking About Microbiology

Unfortunately (or fortunately, depending on how you look at it), for now the Selfmade cheese is not available for human consumption. Instead, the goal is to increase public awareness and discussion of microbiology.

"Can knowledge and tolerance of bacterial cultures in our food improve tolerance of the bacteria on our bodies?" Agapakis and Tolaas ask in a statement accompanying their exhibit. (Source:

Residents of the United Kingdom can take a whiff of the Selfmade cheese by heading over to Trinity College Dublin's Science Gallery. There, the Selfmade cheese is a major part of a new exhibit called "Grown Your Own -- Life After Nature".

The exhibit will remain on display in Dublin until January 19, 2014.

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