Julia Bradbury and a group of young consumers discover how the inedible parts of a sheep can be turned into everything from comfy boots to cosmetics and even condoms.
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'From the clothes we wear to the cars we drive,
'from what we use to look good to what we use to relax.'
-'Our lives are full of products.
'And our products are full of animals.'
In the past few years, I've learned quite a lot about how the meat we eat reaches our plates.
'But I've always wondered what happens to the bits of the animal we don't eat.
'And it turns out that these leftover parts are made into things we use every day.'
That is a symbolic noise for, like, leather.
'As well as some things you couldn't even imagine.'
Oh, my God! My face is on fire!
I've never, ever smelt anything like that.
'To find out how, I'm going on an extraordinary journey to see these raw animal parts
'transformed into shiny new products.
'And I'm going to be joined by the people who use them to see what they make of it.'
-The sheep need to get slaughtered.
-Will we be in the room?
Oh, my God!
Mine had a testicle on it!
Don't film me being sick.
'We'll be going behind the doors of unknown companies and into hidden worlds.'
That is just such a weird vision, just skin hanging there.
This is when we see what's inside the chest.
-I don't think that's going to go in there, Julia.
'And discovering what makes these animal leftovers so indispensible.'
-I can't even look at it!
-What am I doing here with these?
Could knowing that so many of our favourite items contain animals
change the way we feel about them forever?
'Tonight, the sheep.'
From curries and kebabs to Sunday roasts,
almost 16 million British sheep are destined to die for our dinner every year.
But our national flock provide us with much more than just meat.
All the bits of the sheep that we don't eat, like the fat and the fleece,
-can be turned into products that we buy. Comfy boots, cosmetics, even condoms.
-Ohh, old school.
-To find out how, I'm going to follow these leftovers all the way from the abattoir...
-..to the shop floor.
-Yeah, they're really cute.
And I'm going to be joined by my fellow consumers.
-Goggles on, girls.
-To think that that was on our bed, I'm shocked.
-To see how they feel about using animals in this way.
-Why? I just don't get it.
I'm starting my exploration of sheep products with an item I'm very fond of myself.
Sheepskin boots, or as I like to call them, jacket potatoes, warm and cosy.
'Sheepskin was once synonymous with football commentators and cockney wide boys.
'But it's become a major fashion staple, thanks to the unstoppable march of the sheepskin boot.
'Loved by celebs and civilians alike, each year around a million pairs are sold in the UK.
'I'm keen to know more about how these woolly wonders get from field to foot
'and joining me are three self-confessed boot obsessives.'
'Meet best friends Sabrina, Jacqui and Amira.
'These inseparable girls are fashion-obsessed and they love to shop.'
As soon as we walk into a shop, we'll see something and we won't say anything, we'll all run towards it.
-We'll see something and say, "That's Amira."
-I pick things up and say, "That's quite Jacqui".
-Is it soft?
'Top of their must-have list - their sheepskin boots.'
They're basically my lifesavers.
Especially when we go out for a night out and we've got really high shoes on,
we want to get into the bar. Slippers on the go!
That's what I call them, slippers on the go.
-'And they wear them everywhere.'
-I work in a shoe shop so I wear my boots to work.
-Around the house.
-In the car.
-On the way to work.
-On the way home from work.
-I can't think of anywhere I wouldn't wear them.
'For Jacqui, it's a real love affair.'
I have got seven pairs of boots.
These are my first pair when I was 16. They began the addiction.
These are the cardie ones. These are the classics. They're a definite must-have.
Another pair of the classic ones but I had to have them in brown.
These are more unusual. These are my favourite ones.
'The girl's got it really bad.
'They want to know where their boots come from but they're scared of what they might find.'
If there was any sort of inhumane activity going on, that's the sort of thing that might put me off.
I'd want the sheep to be killed in the most humane way possible
and I think, if they weren't, that would definitely put me off buying the boots.
'To see exactly where their fashionable footwear begins its journey,
'the girls are joining me where the sheep end theirs, at an abattoir in Devon.
'What they see here could mean they never pull on a pair of boots again.'
Good morning, ladies. I'm Julia.
Now, I know it's a bit of a chilly day. I know you girls like your sheepskin boots, don't you?
-Have you ever thought about where they come from?
-Erm, I kind of knew that, if they're sheepskin,
they're going to come from sheep, but not much further down the line, I haven't thought about the process.
That's what this little journey is all about. You know what that building is?
This is an abattoir and it's the beginning of the journey of our sheepskin boots
because they do come from sheep and the sheep need to get slaughtered and that's where it happens.
So that is the first thing we're going to see today. How do you feel about that prospect?
I feel a little bit nervous cos you're not exposed to that sort of environment every day.
It's a bit daunting, trying to get your head around it, I suppose.
-Are we actually going to be in the room?
-We'll be in the room. You're going to see it.
-It's not a pleasant thing.
-You're not helping.
But your boots are boots that we like, this is where it all starts.
-OK, well, I'm ready.
-Shall we do it?
-OK, follow me.
'The abattoir we're visiting is owned by John Coles.
'It follows best-practice guidelines, which means animal welfare is a top priority.
'Lewis Castramill is the vet overseeing the process.'
-What's just happened there, John?
-Lewis has just inspected them to make sure they're healthy to kill,
which is the job that has to be done. Now they're ready for slaughter.
-They're not just being killed for their skin, are they?
-The actual fleece is a by-product.
-At least it's not just killed for the skin.
No, definitely not. This is a high-quality lamb
-that is 100 percent edible.
-Next they'll go into the stun pen and the slaughter process will begin.
-All right. Ready?
'Before going inside, we change into the regulation clothing.
'John gives us a few final words of reassurance.'
It's quite straightforward. Just don't panic. Just stand there, take it in
and think that this is something that goes on
and it's not a special show put on for you, it's goes on every day.
'Then it's time to make our way into the slaughter hall where the sheep will end their lives
'and our boots will begin theirs.'
Basically, the animals will come into this pen here.
-The electric stunners are there.
That actually stuns the animal unconscious.
A shackle goes onto the actual leg
and it then travels up the elevator,
through these doors to be bled.
-And that's the first time we'll actually see the animal, isn't it?
-Yes. Let's get the animals now.
'First, the lambs are stunned with an electric shock that renders them insensitive to pain.'
Right, I think one of them has been stunned now.
'Next, the major blood vessels in their neck are severed and the sheep bleed out.
'They're dead within a couple of minutes.
'The four sheep are killed rapidly, one after the other.
'Even though I've seen this before and I know it's the most humane way of killing the sheep,
'I still find it hard to watch and it's all a bit too much for our girls.'
-What do you think, Sabrina?
It's just like spewing out.
-It's a shock. It's a shock.
-It's all up the wall.
No, look at it! It's all up the wall!
And it's like twitching, as well.
-Oh, my God, it keeps making a noise!
-But you'll see them, they still move
-and they still twitch and it's...
-It's making a noise.
-It's expulsion. It's expulsion of the final bits of air. Its lungs are closing down.
'With the killing complete, John joins us in the slaughter hall.
'The girls have an issue about what they've seen so far.'
-John, as ever, the twitching is a major concern.
-Explain that to us.
-When the electric current is applied to the animal, it's technically stunned.
Then you've got a time limit that you've got to stick it
for the bleeding process
and, obviously, then you will get some nerve reaction until such time as it's finally bled
and finally then dead.
It's funny how, in the supermarket, you just see it in a packet
-and you don't think about it like this.
-Not in a million years.
-Thinking about the boots now?
-It doesn't look very much like it would make a boot at the moment.
-'Next, the sheep's heads are removed.'
-Oh, my God. Did you hear that?
'Then what's known as the dressing stage begins.'
Dressing basically means you're removing the fleece.
It's a skilled operation to make sure you get into the right layer of skin.
Otherwise you pull the tissue away from the meat.
-It's peeling quite easily.
-It's a very difficult job to do.
He's making it look simple.
SABRINA GASPS Oh, my God, it just came out the other side!
Obviously, the process has got to be
that the fleece doesn't in-roll on the meat, which would contaminate the meat.
'Before the skin can be completely removed, the sheep's feet must be taken off.'
-'Then the remaining skin
'is literally punched out from the flesh by hand.'
It's quite a long way from what we saw in the pen outside, isn't it?
'It's pretty gory and I'm surprised to see Amira volunteering to have a go.'
-Just wash your hands first.
-What you need to do is hold the fleece there.
And put that hand, with your knuckles clenched, in through there.
Oh, that feels gross!
Does it? What does it feel like?
I don't know! Gross!
-Can you feel it pulling away?
Oh, it feels gross!
-Oh, did you hear that?
-Oh, OK. Yeah, this is...
-That skin could make a pair of boots for you.
-I don't really want to go any further in than that.
-OK. Well done.
'The final part of the hide is separated using a machine.
Oh, look. See? Gross, really gross, but interesting.
-Oh, my God.
-There we go.
-I wasn't expecting that!
-So there is the sheepskin.
-There is it.
-There it is.
-Here are our boots.
-Are you going to take that one outside?
-OK, Jacqui, there we go.
It's really heavy.
'Jacqui has the glamorous job of gathering up the skins.
'Meanwhile, the sheep's carcass is gutted.
'Its organs are checked for signs of disease before the meat is passed fit for human consumption.
'With the job done, I find out how the girls are feeling.'
What were your expectations before we came in here?
I don't know. I just didn't expect to see all that blood.
-More gory than you thought.
-Yeah, it was. But the skinning was a bit more straightforward
-and less blood and guts.
-Sabrina, you were quite brave throughout everything.
-You seemed fascinated by every bit of the process, even the killing.
-I did want to see that.
We've come all this way, I didn't want to miss anything.
And it was quite gruesome but I did want to keep my eyes on it.
'To witness the next stage in the journey from sheep to shoe, we travel to Bridgewater in Somerset,
'home of Fenland Sheepskin. Showing us around is managing director Chris Tinnion.'
-So Chris, what goes on here?
-Here is where we start the process
of turning the raw skins into a finished product,
whether it be rugs or skins for coats or footwear,
-Ugg Boots and things like that.
-How many skins do you use a year?
-Between 1,000 and 1,500 a week.
-A total of about 60,000 a year.
-60,000 a year?
So that's 60,000 sheep a year.
-That's a lot.
The largest one is in China, doing 30,000 skins per day.
-30,000 a day?
-Yeah. And there's two of them.
So between the two of them, they do the same in one day as we do in a year.
That's incredible. And if you didn't do this, if you weren't making your sheepskin products,
-what would happen to the skins?
-Well, they'd either be exported to places like Turkey or China
or they would have to be disposed of in landfill.
'I'm relieved to know that none of the skins here will go to waste.
'We follow Chris to where the transformation begins - the salting room.'
-This is George. George is going to show you how to salt skins.
'As soon as they arrive at the tannery, each skin is covered in salt to stop it from rotting.'
That one's fine. Do you want to have a go?
Go on, Amira.
'Amira helps out, but before she can start, a special little snip is needed.'
-I'll take that off.
-Yeah, you do that.
You don't really want anything to do with that.
-What's that bit that just came off?
-It's really gross. It's kind of like a...
-The more you rub it in, the better the skin.
It's quite... It's like a water bed.
-Does it feel anything like your boots at the moment? Can you make the connection?
It had a testicle on it!
-My boot had a testicle!
Yeah. It'd be an interesting little addition, wouldn't it?
You might pay extra for that.
-So we're going in there?
'Once the hides are ready to be processed, they're cleaned and rehydrated
'in a tank of soapy water. This time, I get hands-on, too.' Let's go.
Yeah! You're doing very well.
'The hides have any excess fat removed in a de-fleshing machine.
'Next, tanning chemicals are added to preserve them permanently.
'The skins are then buffed on a wheel to make them softer.'
-It's like a big emery board, a big nail file.
And that's what it's like beforehand.
-That's afterwards, and it's got a smoother finish.
That feels nice.
'The smoothed hides are then dyed in large drums for close to 36 hours.
'Then they're stretched out to be dried in heated cabinets.'
-So, drying done.
'The finished skins are now ready to be boxed up.'
-And these skins are actually going to make boots?
-Yes, that's right.
They go down to Cornwall for boots.
And how much does it cost you to buy in your sheepskin?
The raw skins cost about £6.50 at the moment.
-And how much do you sell them for?
-So after your whole process, the dying and everything, you sell that for £22.
-How much do you buy your boots for, girls?
-Anywhere between £100 and £200.
Yeah, some of them go up to about £220.
And that, as you've just heard, is £22.
'I'm curious to know how a £22 sheepskin
'becomes a pair of boots worth hundreds,
'so to find out, we follow the trail to Newquay.
'It's home to Celtic Sheepskin, who make a range of products, including boots.
'Here to meet us is managing director Nick Whitworth.'
Welcome to Celtic Sheepskin. We'll now show you how your boots will be made.
'We start our tour at the cutting machines.'
So a pair of boots is made from eight pieces of sheepskin.
Every style has a pattern and we cut them out of
whatever colour it is that you want your boots made from.
How many pairs of boots would you get out of one sheepskin?
We go for a least one pair, depending on the size of the skin.
If it's a small pair of shorty boots that are only ankle-high, we might get two.
Those two bits go together like that at the back.
-That's the little shin piece to go in front of your shin. The toes.
And they're all joined together like that to form a boot.
'After cutting, the pieces are sewn together by hand.
'Then the soles are stuck on. And finally, the boots are ready for the shops.
'Having seen the entire journey from fluffy sheep to comfy boot,
'I'm keen to know if the girls feel differently about their favourite footwear.'
When you're looking at these now,
are you looking at them any differently?
I think I've got a better understanding now. Yeah.
So do you like them more or less?
I think, if anything, I like them more now.
I appreciate where they came from and I just appreciate the process they've been through a lot more now.
-So I think we all love them more.
-You've seen that sheep walking around
-and you saw it in the abattoir, remember that.
-Don't say it like that!
-You've seen the skin come off.
-I think that image is pretty much burned into our memories.
-You could see it as we're just using the material that might not have been used.
-Yeah, the by-product.
I was just thinking, "This is a slaughter"
-whereas now I'm thinking, "This is shopping!"
-Do you know what I mean?
Ultimately, a good experience or a bad experience?
-I think it's a good experience.
I think a lot of people should be more conscious about where their products come from.
I think a lot of people are becoming a lot more aware. It's been a good journey.
-Well done, girls. I think you've done very well.
-You've done really well.
'I find it incredible to think that in less than a week,
'the skins of a living sheep can become a pair of comfy boots.
'But though the process may be unfamiliar, the fact that sheepskin boots are made from sheep
'is hardly a surprise. However, there's another by-product resulting from our love of lamb
'that's just as widespread as the boots, but it's much less well known and much more astounding.
'I'm heading off to the Lake District to find out more.'
If I hear the word tallow, I think of something quite old-fashioned.
I know it's a fat and I think we used to make candles out of it in the good old days.
I learnt more recently that it's still used in everyday products and they make it here.
I've come to find out how.
'I'm visiting Alba Proteins who process the parts of cows and sheep left over from the food industry.
'Though it's a vital job, it's a pretty grizzly one, and has historically been kept under wraps.
'I have a rare opportunity to see it first-hand.
'Site manager Simon Boyes will be my guide.'
-Pleased to meet you.
-You, too. Now, tallow. I know it's a fat, but what sort of fat?
It's fat from the bits of animals that we don't actually eat.
-Right. And how do you extract it?
-We use what we call in the industry a rendering,
which we heat the material up and extract the oil.
'Over half a million tonnes of sheep, cows and pig parts are rendered in the UK every year.'
Here we've got a load of sheep coming in to process.
-Right. How much? It's a big truck.
-Erm, about 20 to 25 tonnes we normally receive in one load.
'The raw animal parts are unloaded into a huge bin.'
-25 tonnes of sheep bits and bobs.
It's pretty gruesome, you've got to say.
The blood on the floor, the fleshy bits.
It is. But what you've got to appreciate is this is materials which are fit for humans
-but they choose not to eat.
'These sheep parts have just started to decay and they're giving off a real stink.'
I haven't actually smelt anything quite as pungent, even in an abattoir.
It really sticks to the back of your throat.
'And if a lorry-load of sheep parts don't smell pretty,
'I'm sure they don't look too pretty, either.'
-Ohh. That's a lot of sheep heads.
We've got sheep heads, hooves, innards,
sheep fat and also the carcass, as well.
I've never, ever smelt anything like that.
Ever. No. Oh! No.
-Where does it go from here?
-We have a crusher where we break it down to even particle size.
We'll go round, I'll show you the crusher
-and then we can take it from there.
-Anything's better than here.
'From the bin, the sheep parts pass into the crusher, which pounds them into small, even pieces.
'The crusher is monitored remotely from the rendering plant's control room.'
You see the picture there is the crusher. That's crushing the material down to particle size
and we pump it direct into the cooker.
-So, basically, that's turning it into pate.
'This pate goes into a giant oven where it's heated to 120 degrees.
'The heat kills off any bacteria, evaporates the water
'and causes the fat to melt away from the protein.'
Here we have the material which is being cooked at the moment.
-It's like a kebab machine!
-Yeah. You can naturally see the oil being released from the material.
'Once the sheep parts have been rendered, the hot melted fat
'is squeezed out by a press and drained off.'
-That's it, that's tallow?
-That's our finished product that we sell to the customer.
-It's like gravy.
-So there's a lot of that in there.
-There certainly is, yes.
-And that's going off to your customers.
So the million-dollar question is, Simon, who are your customers? What is this used in?
In conditioners, cosmetics. It forms the first ingredient of a cleaning agent.
That is a bit of a surprise, I must say. Have you ever tasted any?
-I haven't, no.
-I don't blame you.
'Since that gut-wrenching experience,
'I've been surprised to discover how much tallow is used in our cleaning products.'
I wonder how many people know about this product
and how they'll feel about it when they know how it's made. All right, boys?
'To find out, I'm joined by Jenny and Laura, who know very little about what goes into their wash.'
-So you're students?
-And what do you look for in your washing products?
-What's on offer.
-Right. Do you ever look at the ingredients?
Look at the ingredients on that, see if any stick out to you.
-Read that one.
-I don't even know what those words are.
-What's the worst thing it could be?
-I think if it was dead animal, that would be the worst thing ever.
'Uh-oh. Time for the big reveal.'
Don't be frightened. It'll all be OK.
-Are you ready?
OK, this is what is in a lot of fabric conditioners and soaps.
THEY SCREAM Ughhhh!
-Oh, my God.
-I can't even look at it! That is disgusting. Urgh.
-Look at his teeth!
-I can't look!
-Look at his teeth!
-She won't look!
-What is that?
-That is sheep's head.
It's not just sheep. There are lots of animals that go into this kind of product.
Basically, what they do is, all the bits of meat that we don't eat
go to a big rendering plant and they are boiled down into an oil
which becomes tallow and it comes from this kind of product.
-So it's in everything?
-It's in an awful lot. It's in lots of fabric conditioners,
-it's in lots of soaps.
-I don't feel clean!
I don't. I feel like... I keep looking at its little face.
-Are you curious to know how something like that becomes this product?
-Well, we've got an expert and he's going to answer any questions that you've got.
'While we put on a load of washing, we're joined by David Howells,
'a chemist with 30 years experience in the tallow industry.'
-This is Jenny and Laura.
-Hi, girls, how are you?
They're quite shocked by what we've revealed so far.
-What's your big question?
-Why? I just don't get it.
-Why is that used?
-How is that head used to make this?
-That's a liquid and that's a head.
-Because it's there.
You've had your sheep or your cow, you've eaten it.
As a by-product from that, you're left with this fat, you find things to do with it.
Right, how do we make tallow into soap?
It's very easy. Come on, girls, let me show you.
I've got a little demonstration here.
There's tallow. It's solid. I've melted some so I can show you more easily.
If we put some of the tallow in here, this is some simple caustic soda solution,
and instantly it's reacted and started forming soap.
Now instead of it being two separate clear liquids not mixed,
they've mixed together and it's now like a custard.
In industry, if you then want to get soap from that,
you add salt to it, the soap comes to the surface,
run off the water and you make it into a bar of soap. That's it.
'As well as being used to make soap, tallow can be found in washing powders.
'It's also added to fabric conditioners
'where it's listed on the label as a cationic surfactant
'and helps the perfume and softening agents spread into the clothing.'
-How is that allowed in that?
-The alternatives are what?
We could use products like palm oil.
-That's got moral issues, as well, hasn't it?
The animal fat is there, it's available, and can make products which are like that.
-When we see tallow on a label, does it always come from an animal?
-It's always animal fat.
'Tallow and tallow-derived chemicals have a number of different names.
'Just some of those to look out for on your labels include sodium tallowate,
'tallow alcohol, tallow amine, and my personal favourite,
'dihydrogenated tallowoylethyl hydroxyethylmonium methosulfate.'
And when it says surfactant, is that always from an animal?
No, it can be from tallow, but it can also be totally synthetic,
a detergent made from chemicals.
-How do you know?
'It's clear that getting to the bottom of what's in our products can be tricky.
'But once we know about a hidden ingredient like tallow,
'we then have to decide how we feel about it.'
-Has it changed the way you think about what you buy, your perception of the industry?
-It's really deceiving.
-I'm like, quick in and out, so I'll just grab what I need and go.
I would never think to look at it. But now I would definitely take a minute to see what's in it.
-We know the words now.
-We know what to look out for.
Do you think the fact that animals have been used in these products should be labelled?
I think it should, because they still put on animal testing
and suitable for vegetarians, vegans, all sorts. I think they should at least indicate it.
-Because if people still want to use it, they will.
-We know now, but we'll still buy it.
-If nobody knows, they're using it unaware.
-That's a bit rubbish.
-Do you want to take the sheep heads with you?
-Erm, I think we'll leave them there.
-They don't fit in with our living room, do they?
'Though it's fair to be squeamish about tallow and where it comes from,
'to me it makes perfect sense that we don't waste these lamby leftovers.
'However, there's one way that another part of the sheep's anatomy is used that doesn't turn me on.'
'Sheep guts are often used to make casings for sausages.
'But throughout history, we've also wrapped these delicate intestinal tracts
'around a very different kind of flesh.'
Now, it's got to be said, the origin of the sheep-gut contraceptives is fairly woolly.
'Legend has it they were first invented in the 17th century for Charles II.
'It's claimed a certain Dr Condom tried to reduce the king's quota of illegitimate kids
'by giving him oiled sheep intestines to use between the royal bed sheets.
'Though there's no hard evidence for this story, by the 18th century,
'these animal-gut condoms were everywhere.
'Serial seducer Casanova mentions blowing them up to entertain ladies in his memoirs
'while records show that London's flourishing trade was led by two women,
'a Mrs Perkins and a Mrs Phillips. Today, most condoms are made from latex.
'But if you're allergic to those or you fancy something different,
-'I'm amazed to find you can still buy sheep intestine condoms online.'
-# Mr lover-lover
'I'm keen to find out what a group of London lads will make of these.'
I'll try my best not to embarrass you. Let's be grown up. Come here. All right.
-Do we know what these are?
-Ah, I know these.
-Yeah, do you know what them is?
-Use these regularly?
-I'm pleased to hear it.
-What do you think that's made out of?
-What is that, plastic or...?
-I'm not sure.
I'm going to show you.
-Ohh, old school! Isn't that what they used to make them out of in the old days?
-What is that?
-Is that intestines?
-It is indeed.
-How do you feel about that now?
-A bit weird.
-It's sheep's intestines.
SHE LAUGHS Nice! Looks like spaghetti.
-You haven't got a knife and fork, have you?
-Ohh, you're disgusting!
-Would you be happy trying those out?
-As long as they work and they ain't going to get nobody pregnant!
-No? You wouldn't feel happy wearing one of those?
-I don't see why I shouldn't use it.
-You'd have a go?
-I'd rather not.
-I wouldn't tell her about it.
-My girlfriend, her religious views don't...
-They don't go with that?
-They don't go with sheep-intestine condoms?
-I tell you what, gents, take one.
-Oh, thank you ever so much.
-Let me know how you get on.
-What time do you finish?
-Thank you for your time.
-See you, guys. Bye.
'Though these old-fashioned condoms may help to prevent pregnancy,
'they don't protect from STDs, so for the safest sex, it's safer to stick with the more modern variety.
'From a product I'd expect to find in the more niche section of the chemist shop
'to one that's commonplace on the nation's beauty counters.'
Lanolin is a sheep-related ingredient that's found in hundreds of cosmetics,
from makeup and moisturisers to body creams and baby lotions.
But does anyone know what it is?
-I've never heard of lanolin.
-I don't know what lanolin is.
-Lanolin? What is lanolin?
-What is lanolin?
-Is it bad?
I've got some idea of where lanolin comes from but I'm going to meet two women from Oldham
who've got more reason than most to care about what goes into their cosmetics.
'Meet young mum Nadia, her two-year-old daughter Sharina, and her cousin, nursing student Farmina.
'These ladies love their beauty products.'
Skincare is very important to me.
I do have a strict routine that's wash, tone, moisturise, exfoliate.
Constantly giving creams a trial run, see if it works. If it looks good then it should be all right.
'But they need to be careful about what they use.'
Because we're Muslims,
we can't use alcohol
or any form of pig or gelatine or anything like that.
'In fact, many by-products derived from UK farm animals
'might not be considered Halal.'
Shall we give your hair a little bit of a wash?
'And for Nadia, it's not just a case of looking after her own skin.
'She also has to deal with Sharina's eczema.'
Sharina was born a premature child
so she was a month and a half early.
From the minute she was born, she started having a few rashes on her cheeks.
'So looking at what goes into their products is pretty important.'
Thanks a lot. Bye.
'But it's one thing looking and another thing understanding.'
Most of the things here, I have no idea what they are.
My head is spinning just reading these ingredients.
Lanolin. That's one that's very common.
'Lanolin is one ingredient I can help them to find out more about.
'How will they feel when they learn exactly where it comes from?
'To find out, the girls are joining me at a company called Thomas Chadwick's
'who wash wool for the UK carpet industry.
'At this stage, they've got no idea where lanolin comes from.'
-Do you know what this is?
-Any idea what might come out of this?
-I don't have a clue but it does smell a lot.
-It's a bit smelly.
-It's not very pleasant.
I'm going to say one word to you - lanolin. What does that mean?
-It doesn't mean anything at all but I see it a lot.
-A lot of moisturisers. Everything I use.
-You don't know what it is?
-Not at all.
-Do you want to go and find out?
'So, lanolin is related to wool. But how we've yet to discover.
'On hand to explain is managing director Mark Andrews.'
-That's a lot of wool, Mark!
-A lot of wool, indeed.
So this is wool directly off the sheep's back.
So this is sheared wool.
-You'll probably recognise it better if we open up the fleece here.
-There we go! Now a little bit of recognition.
-You've seen them shearing sheep.
'Sheep aren't killed to get wool. The fleece is just shaved off.
'It's Mark's job to get it clean enough to sell. But it's mucky work.'
Quite a lot of things in sheep wool.
-Sheep poo and all that.
-The other contaminants are sweat, the sheep sweats.
The major contaminant is the wool grease that's on there.
'And it's this wool grease that's a crude form of lanolin.'
And are you after lanolin or are you after the wool?
The wool is the most important thing to us. Wool grease is a valuable by-product for us
and we produce anything between 5 and 6 tonnes a week.
-Go on, have a feel.
-Oh, God. It's a bit...
-They're heavy, aren't they?
-They are heavy.
-This is our bread and butter material.
-Can you feel it? I can feel...
-You can feel the grease.
-It is sticky.
-That's the wool grease.
'Sheep secrete wool grease from glands in their skin,
'coating and softening the wool fibres and protecting the fleece against the elements.
'Much like a moisturiser helps to protect our faces.'
# Is the word that you heard, it's got groove, it's got meaning
I expect to wear a wool and not smother it on my body!
We don't know how that happens yet, but it somehow gets from there onto our bodies.
'To learn more, we head into the heart of the factory.
'Before the wool is washed, the bails are broken down into smaller pieces.'
-This is scary.
-Can you see the wool going in now?
It's being fed evenly into the wool scour now.
'To wash or scour the wool, it's mixed with water and detergent
'and passed through three tanks, each one cooler than the last.
'It's then rinsed on what looks like a medieval torture chamber.'
Look at that machinery!
So the majority of the wool grease is washed out in the first bowl.
The first bowl is the hottest bowl
and about 80 percent of the wool grease will be washed out there.
And that's where we'll extract that water from,
because it's concentrated wool grease there.
'While the clean wool goes off to be dried,
'the grease-rich liquid from the first tank is pumped into a series of centrifuges.
'These spin it at high speeds to separate the grease from the water and any dirt.'
We're producing what we know as wool grease.
You can see how clear it is now.
-It's drying already, yeah?
Oh, that's really sticky! That's like ear wax.
Yeah. As we said earlier, it officially is a wax.
-This isn't lanolin yet.
-No, this is the raw product that we then sell to refiners.
'It takes 500 tonnes of fleece to produce 5 tonnes of wool grease,
'which is sold on to be refined into lanolin.
'So when you see lanolin on a label,
'it means that a version of this oily brown grease with all the dirt and impurities removed
'is in the product. But just what is it doing there and why is it used in such a wide range of stuff?
'To find out, it's time for my very own Blue Peter moment
'as the girls and I make a moisturiser from scratch.
'Helping us is Dr Laura Waters from the University of Huddersfield,
'an expert in making the products we see on the chemist's shelves.'
Goggles on, girls. Come on. Goggles on.
-Let's see. Yeah, good to go.
-OK, come on round.
'Unlike the grease we saw in the factory,
'the lanolin we're using has been through the refining process.
'I'm keen to know what makes it such a desirable ingredient in our cosmetics.'
What's so special about lanolin is the way it can take up the water,
it can mix it in, we call that an emulsifier,
and it mixes the water in so when you apply it to your skin,
it not only forms a barrier as an oil
but it also has water inside that acts to rehydrate your skin
-so it's also a moisturiser.
-So it's unique in that way?
-There are several other emulsifiers
but with lanolin, it's a natural product, people trust it, it's gentle, it's safe
-and it feels nice on the skin.
-Even in its most raw form.
-That's really nice to know, actually.
-So are we all ready to start mixing?
'First we heat the lanolin in a beaker and add some petroleum jelly.'
It's like being back in home economics!
'Next we add emulsifying wax, which helps blend the oil and water in the cream together.'
OK, and then finally we need to add our liquid paraffin.
'Liquid paraffin is a mineral oil that helps soften the skin.'
This is just the basis of most creams?
-And then they add whatever they need to add, like perfumes, colourings or whatever?
Sure. This is the base of most moisturisers and barrier creams, as well.
'Once the lanolin mixture has melted, it's time for the most critical part - stirring.'
-Pour your water in.
-Ooh, it's already got thicker.
I can feel it. The texture just changes instantly, doesn't it?
'Now the moment of truth. Have our homemade moisturisers made the grade?'
OK, that looks fantastic! That looks really good! It's very nicely mixed.
So if you were to apply that to your skin, you'd find it would hydrate your skin very, very nicely.
Nadia, what's going on with yours? That just looks like... Well, I won't say.
-It's not pretty, is it?
-Oh, my God.
-Why did that go wrong?
It could be because it got too hot while it was on the hot plate.
-What do you think of yours?
-I really like mine, the texture.
And it's nice and silky.
Go on, I know you're jealous. Have a feel of that.
'So has witnessing the journey from dirty fleece to moisturising cream
'had any effect on our girls?'
Are you concerned about using lanolin on Sharina now, your little girl?
At the beginning, I was thinking, "OK, it might be from an animal"
but it is from an animal but it's not from the inside of an animal, it's from the wool extracts,
-which is good to know.
-It's like a secretion.
-Because it's not meat, not an animal part, that's all right for you.
-Yeah, that's fine.
'Because lanolin doesn't come from dead sheep, it's acceptable to use to most Muslims.'
-And you're going to carry on using all your beauty creams.
-Yeah. It's been a really good experience,
from where it starts to this and I made my own cream, so I'm really happy.
-I'd quite like to take that home in a little jar.
'So far, I've seen how the sheep's skin, its fat, its guts and even its natural grease
'can be turned into popular everyday products.
'I can't imagine that there's any more the sheep has to offer.'
But it turns out there's a more radical way of using a sheep by-product.
To try and improve our looks.
'To find out more, I've come here to London's Harley Street.
'It's the home of cosmetic surgery,
'and one of the clinics here offers a treatment made from a part of a sheep.
'But I've absolutely no idea which bit.
'I'm meeting Dr Roberto Viel,
'a cosmetic surgeon who's spent the last 20 years
'helping patients in search of the body beautiful
'alongside his twin brother Maurizio. Hm, wonder who this lucky lady is.'
-Lying in the supine position here. Roberto, hello.
-What are you doing here?
-At the moment, I'm applying the last batch of anaesthetic cream.
'Today he's going to be carrying out a procedure on 26-year-old Londoner Alice.
'She's an aspiring makeup artist with an interest in beauty products
-'and it's the first time she's had this unusual facial.'
-We need to numb the skin
because what we're going to do involves the use of a micro-needle dermo roller
and an application of a solution called an ActiStem dermal.
-What is it? I know it's a part of a sheep.
-That is a solution
of a concentration of a protein from lamb placenta.
-It's the placenta?
-Placenta from the sheep.
There we are. There we are. There.
So let's just get this clear. The placenta is in the sheep's womb
and is attached to the lamb in the womb
and is feeding that lamb.
-But it's the bit that's full of all the goodness, isn't it? It's the...
I can't lie.
When you put it like that, it does seem quite...yucky. But I'm quite fascinated with it.
'In recent years, our taste for radical beauty procedures has continued to grow.
'New treatments appear regularly
'and the one I'm about to see is not mainstream yet.'
Is that the micro roller?
Yes. It's made of titanium. Looks like a torture instrument but it's not at all true, don't worry.
-'Looks a bit painful to me.'
-OK, let's start.
-How does it feel, Alice?
-It's not... It's not nice, but it's not painful.
Yeah, it's not agony by any stretch.
You see, the skin becomes a little bit red and pinkish.
-And that's what we want.
'Alice's pores are opened up to allow the liquid placenta treatment to penetrate more deeply
'into the middle, or mesodermal, layer of the skin.'
So now you're just painting it onto those open pores.
-I'm like an artist. I'm doing some nice painting.
'There's currently limited scientific evidence for this treatment
'but Dr Viel is convinced of its benefits.'
The protein of the placenta will activate the dormant stem cells of the skin.
In doing that, there will be a faster skin regeneration.
So you will have new skin cells on your face much quicker than normal
and that will give a better glow and improvement to the skin.
'The placentas used to make this treatment come from a specially isolated flock in Australia.
'The fresh placenta is dried and made into a powder
'from which a sterilised protein is extracted for use in the facial serum.'
-How does it feel on a fresh corner of your face?
-It's actually better on this bit.
'According to Dr Viel, sheep placenta is favoured over other animals
-'because it's richer in all the necessary proteins.'
-Now you have to look up, OK?
-What are the benefits for somebody of Alice's age?
It helps to give a boost to the cells
to have a better skin complexion, to revitalise the skin
and, of course, I always believe that prevention is very important in anti-aging medicine.
-So prevention is better than cure.
-I always believe that, yeah.
'The treatment ends with a final application of moisturising serum
'and then Alice gets a chance to check out her new facial glow.'
-Ooh! Oh, dear.
-A little bit lobster!
-A little bit lobster-esque.
-But it's not too bad.
-You see, that's the first area.
It's going away, the redness. A couple of hours and she will be back to normal.
-You will be happy.
-I am sure I will.
-You are beautiful.
'Three weeks later and the results of Alice's unusual treatment can be seen.
'Has it worked? I'll let you judge for yourself.'
Having explored pretty much every inch of the sheep's anatomy,
it may seem strange that I've pretty much ignored the part that we use the most,
the part that's most familiar in our homes and on the high street. This stuff. Wool.
'The reason I've left wool until last is because it seems hard to find something new
'or unexpected to say about such a familiar sheep by-product.
'Wool is sheared from living sheep before being processed into fibre, spun and dyed.
'I can be knitted or woven into everything from jumpers and carpets
'to snooker-table cloth and even coffins.
'It's a fabric that's been with us so long, it's difficult to get excited about it.'
-Is that what you think?
-Wool, frump, dull.
-Cosy, I suppose. That's about it.
-I hate wool. The feel of it, it's awful.
-I'd say a bit boring.
'But despite what we might think, it turns out that even something as everyday as wool has its surprises.
'Especially when it comes to the part it can play in the furniture and fittings we buy for our homes.
'To find out more, I've come to the Chiltern International Fire Testing Facility in Buckinghamshire.
'Here an expert team test fire-resistance in a wide range of products.
'For this visit, I'm joined by friends Ayiesha and Dan, who've recently moved in together.
'They both consider themselves fans of modern interiors,
'so I wonder where wool rates in their list of fashionable home fittings.'
-The two of you have just moved into a flat together.
-It's an exciting time, you're furnishing it. So shopping?
-Yes, lots of that.
And are we getting on? Stylistically, do we agree?
-We're very different.
-I like minimalistic, she likes clutter and too much colour for me.
-When you're shopping for your furniture, do you ever consider wool as a material?
-Not furniture, no.
-Not wool curtains?
-If it looks nice, it looks nice. I don't think, "What's it made of?" at all.
'One man who'd like Ayiesha and Dan to take a second look
'at the fabrics they choose for their home is Sir Ken Knight, one of Britain's leading firemen.'
-Explain what you do.
-I started as a firefighter, became chief fire officer of London.
-Now I'm the government's chief fire and rescue advisor.
-'To demonstrate what's so special about wool,
'Dan and Ayiesha will witness a revealing experiment.
'We're going to test how wool compares to a synthetic fabric, polyester,
'by staging a bedroom fire inside what's known as a firebox.'
-What have we got in front of us here?
-I've set up the typical materials of a bedrooms.
So we've got a woollen blanket, a woollen mattress,
-a woollen pillow and a woollen carpet.
-How does that compare to your bedroom?
-Definitely. The bed frame, definitely.
-But not wool. All synthetics.
We'll now set this on fire as though it was a bedroom fire
and just seen what happens and see how the materials perform.
I'm just going to pop a little photo of you guys in there.
Let's see how that stands up, shall we?
I'll just put that on the bedside table. Aww, lovely. There we go.
We've got a flame. So this is on the wool blanket.
Still hasn't really ignited.
-You see the difficulty you're having setting light to it?
-I actually can't set fire...to the blanket.
'In fact, it takes almost two minutes before the fire is underway.'
Now you can see that it's really caught alight. But in a localised area.
-Very local. I think we ought to come out of the way now and just see how long it takes.
Still very slow smouldering. Smoke enough to set a smoke detector off
but not a fast-burning fire, not a huge amount of heat given off.
It's not spreading at all. Normally when you see fires, they race across.
'Naturally occurring substances in the sheep's wool,
'like nitrogen and lanolin, give it an ability to self-extinguish, reducing the spread of fire.'
We're now at seven minutes and I don't think we're going to see much more of this for some time.
The fire is still not a room alight, still not even the whole bedding alight.
-So I think we're probably ready to stop there.
-Ready to put this out?
-I think we are.
-Let's do it.
'It takes mere moments to douse the flames and we go to examine the damage.'
Charring. Not much flame spread. Nothing on the bed frame.
-No dripping at all. So the wool carpet we put down
didn't actually have any fire damage at all.
-After eight minutes, I'd expect much more. I'd expect the whole thing to be up in flames.
And very impressed. Do you think we can get the picture out?
-Yep, go on.
-Let's see if it's still there.
-Bit of water there.
-Just a little bit of water damage from the firemen,
-but apart from that, intact.
-There you go. You survived fire number one.
'Now it's time to repeat the test
'but with the kind of synthetic polyester furnishing Dan and Ayiesha use in their flat.'
You're going back in, you two.
I shall place you again delicately on the bedside table.
-Stopwatch at the ready.
-There we go. So...
Right, I'm away.
A lot lower ignition temperature than wool.
-It has definitely caught fire.
-That was about ten seconds to when it started to take fire.
Flames dropping onto the carpet. And this is a polyester carpet, as well.
-Can you smell it?
-Phwoar! Yep, smell.
-Smells a lot quicker.
-And look at the smoke. It's black
-And it does smell.
-This is a toxic smoke coming out of here.
-Look at the difference. Where are we at time-wise?
-We're not up to a minute yet.
-Not a minute?
-Shall we move away from these fumes?
-Yeah, we should.
'Just two minutes in and the fire is really gathering pace.'
You're seeing a lot more actual flaming and there's a lot more smoke higher up.
You can smell it, even at this end.
Look at the bedding now, it's spreading across the bed very quickly.
We're just into four and a half minutes.
To think that that was on our bed, I mean, I'm shocked.
It really is literally five minutes and it's completely in flames.
That fire has now burnt all the way through the mattress.
Look at the smoke coming out. So you really have now got a serious room fire.
We're still only at six and a half minutes.
We're almost coming up to eight minutes. This is where we stopped it before
when we said, "There's not enough burning".
Compare what we're seeing now, with very similar bedding materials, but made of a different material.
-How long do we want to let this burn?
-I think we've seen enough.
-We've got to send firefighters in to put this out, remember.
-I think we're ready to stop.
-Let's put them in. OK.
'With the flames finally extinguished,
'we go to see what's left of the bedroom.'
-Completely destroyed it.
-I know which one I'd rather be sleeping in.
-That is frightening, isn't it?
I mean, look. Everything that was left after eight minutes on this bed.
-The little sheep have survived.
-And there's nothing.
What do you think about this whole experiment, now that you've seen this?
It's more than just colour and texture now, isn't it?
Yeah. It's been a real eye-opener. It'll definitely give us something more to think about when we shop.
-So more arguments. But I think this is one thing we'll both be agreed on.
-No more arguments when it comes to safety.
Ken, does this mean we've got to get rid of everything polyester in our bedrooms and our houses?
No, I doesn't. But it means people need to think about safety in terms of their choice of products.
We've seen here that Dan and Ayiesha can make those choices about colour and type
and there are choices in safety we'd like people to think about, as well.
'While all mattresses and pillows, regardless of what they're made of,
'must be treated to comply with a certain level of fire resistance by law,
'there are currently no fire regulations for duvets, carpets or curtains in the UK.
'For this reason, it's always worth checking labels on any such products
'to see what they say in terms of fire safety.'
-Is there any point in asking about the picture, Sir Ken?
-I'm afraid this is all that survived.
There's no picture and there's no frame any more.
There's no nothing. This really is everything from the bedroom.
The fire resisting power of a simple woolly blanket
is just one of the surprising things I discovered
while exploring how and why sheep are used to make our products.
'In fact, it seems as though many of the sheep's body parts,
'from its warm, durable fleece to its moisturising grease,
'have natural qualities that are hard to beat.
'It's made me and the people I've shared this journey with think again about the humble sheep.'
And even though some of the things we do with it can be quite hard to stomach,
I'm glad we don't waste any of it.
'Next time on Kill It, Cut It, Use It, the pig.'
-It won't go on.
-Ohh! That's just horrible!
-Oh, my God.
-Urgh, it's got skin in it!
-That saved me.
-That's keeping you alive.
Subtitles by Red Bee Media Ltd
E-mail [email protected]
From the sheep parts hidden in your soap to the fishy ingredient in your favourite pint, though you probably don't know it, the bits of the animals we don't eat for dinner often end up being made into the products we use everyday.
Julia Bradbury goes on an eye-opening journey to find out how. She is joined by the young consumers who use these products, from shoe obsessives to high-street hunks, to uncover the surprising animal origins of our most popular items by following the transformation of each leftover body part all the way from the abattoir to the shop floor.
In this programme, Julia discovers how everything from a sheep's skin to its placenta can be turned into comfy boots, cosmetics and even condoms.