How do diaper manufactures test new products?

Not necessarily with teams of volunteer babies.

What scientists have spent considerable time and money to come up with is synthetic feces. And now they are patented.

The invention belongs to the Kimberly-Clark Corporation, the Dallas-based company that makes, among other things, diapers, training pants, incontinence garments and baby wipes.

"...technicians have some objection to handling the real thing," explained Richard Yeo, a senior research scientist who developed the synthetic compound with another Kimberly-Clark researcher, Debra Welchel. "The real thing is a form of biologically hazardous material. Also, it's a bit difficult to obtain, even from infants."

Technicians tried to get around the problem by using mashed potatoes, peanut butter, or canned pumpkin pie mix. Messy, yes, but apparently not chemically accurate enough for science. The foods broke down too quickly, their liquids and solids separating faster than human wastes tend to do.

"The compound comes in a dry mix to which water is added for the desired consistency. The mix is made up of water-soluble components like polyvinyls, starches, natural gums, and gelatins and insoluble ones like fibers and resins. It is usually brown. Kimberly-Clark is making the compound for its labs and has no plans to sell it to anybody else.

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