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Of course, there's gross and then there's unsafe. To find out about the potential health risks or benefits, I talked to an infectious disease specialist and professor at the Berkeley School of Public Health who asked not to be named. "I really thought I'd heard it all," he says in response to my query (when an infectious disease specialist says that, you know it's out of the norm). He thinks about the risks for a moment. "If the food is thoroughly cooked, well-cooked, to destroy any life forms in the semen, like any viruses... that would be my first concern," he says, citing HIV, CMV (a herpes virus), and other STDs that could be transmitted through raw semen.
But those could be transmitted through oral sex as well -- his bigger question was why you'd ever cook with semen in the first place. "We evolved as a species by being omnivores and we eat all sorts of things, including the flesh of animals. But we never evolved wanting to eat someone's semen," the professor says, dismissing any health benefit claims like added protein as "nonsense."
"You can get more nutrients from a piece of meat than someone's semen ... I can only surmise that the small amount of protein in semen would be negligible," he says.
Photenhauer, for his part, acknowledges the risks of ingesting the semen of strangers, and was adamant on the phone and in his books that no one should serve guests semen-filled food without their knowledge. "I'm against [people saying], 'Oh, I put semen in their margarita and they didn't know about it,'" he says. "That's wrong. That's gross and that's wrong."