The French have long appreciated snails on a plate with butter and garlic. But one rural snail farmer believes the humble molluscs have more to offer alive than dead. Louis-Marie Guedon says the mucus secreted by snails are full of collagen, glycolic acid, antibiotics and other compounds that regenerate skin cells and heal cuts.
He is busy turning the innovation into France’s first industrial-scale snail mucus extraction operation with a target to harvest 15 tonnes of it next year.
“I’ve already been producing the slime for three years, but manually,” said Guedon, 47, who has raised snails for a quarter of a century.
He has secured three supply contracts with local cosmetics labs and a Paris company that mixes cosmetics for some of the biggest names in consumer beauty products.
Guedon preferred not to give details of his industrial slime extraction process. But he said the system, developed by an independent engineer, involved placing the snails in two large containers.
After the mucus is extracted, sensitive filters purify the product, which is then refrigerated. Salt is used, but the snails are not killed.
Snail mucus has already cropped up in beauty products sold in Asia and South America, but has yet to catch on in Europe. For the truly adventurous, a spa in Tokyo offers facials using real live snails.