The 12th Annual International Shea Butter Convention
The American Shea Butter Institute hosted its annual Shea Butter Convention this past weekend in Atlanta, GA and I was there. I taught a class on the advances of Shea Butter beyond skin and haircare. In the United States, Shea Butter is only used for cosmetic purposes, but there is a wide variety of other uses of shea butter. Did you know much of the chocolate that is produced in Europe contains shea butter? Shea Butter has similar chemical properties of cocoa. There are many edible oils that are produced, imported or exported in the USA, sadly shea butter is not one of them. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), has rated shea butter as GRAS or “Generally Recognized as Safe” and can be used in confectionery coatings or fillings, in the US, but using it as a viable alternative in chocolate has not been fully explored. While Europe has used shea butter as an alternative to replace cocoa in ‘chocolate’ products the US has not followed suit. In fact it has not allowed it. As one of the most versatile oils, shea butter represents only 1% of shea butter that is currently marketed for edible oils for use in Europe and Japanese markets. America’s 100% use of shea butter is only used for the cosmetic industry. What an under utilize resource for the US. Despite its wide appeal shea butter competes with many of the new “organic oils” that come into popularity each year and are far more inferior than shea butter.
So as one of the presenters and formulators chosen to discuss the use of 100% grade A shea butter, I was so excited to contribute to the scientific advances of shea butter. Many people do not realize that about 95% percent of shea butter imported into our country is uncertified, refined, and often filled with mold, mildew, fungus and bacteria. There are no standards set forth in the US about shea butter. That is why it has been a mission to get Grade A Shea Butter standardize in America. In my lecture, the Advances of Shea Butter Moving Beyond The Cosmetic Industry, I urged industry leaders to adopt, pass laws, write congress to get better protection for what we put on our skin. Represented in the crowd were people from Nigeria, Guinea, Burkina Faso and Ghana. Many of these delegates were producers, importers, exporters and buyers of shea butter without formal knowledge of purifying shea butter. To date, I still have people thinking that shea butter comes in a large shell. Little has been done to educate that public at large. It was the first time that anyone had presented value added shea butter for industrial uses.
I could never know how prophetic my presentation would be until I came home after the shea butter convention and received a recall letter in the mail. The recall letter was from walmart regarding the recall of the Simply Right baby wipes where they found bacteria in the baby wipes. How in the world did that happen? The reason why this is so personal for me is that at the convention one of the products I presented a household use for shea butter. It was a shea butter disposable wipe. I had explained the harmful chemicals in baby wipes and other disposable towels. I exposed that many antiseptic wipes do not contain enough ingredients to be labeled anti-septic and that the baby wipes we put on our children do very little to protect and clean their bottoms. My “invention” or formulation was a heated device that warms disposable shea butter wipes.
As a formulator I always looking at new ways to create or improve existing products. At the office, I use baby wipes as an easy go to product between clients or patients. I am glad that my peers and other professionals thought the wipe was a great idea and great contribution to society. I save the medical cream formula for another post. As I presented this product and others (can’t disclose due to proprietary information) industrial uses for shea butter was born. With a little know-how, we can all leave footprints for a better society. I just happen to think that shea butter is one of resources that is underdeveloped and underutilized. The possibilities are endless. If anyone had known how corn could revolutionize an industry, I’m sure that they would have done more to keep it under wraps for themselves. I’m glad that I am at the forefront of shea butter. LET THE SCIENCE BEGIN.