Home News Worthy What is the deal with Carrageenan?

What is the deal with Carrageenan?

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Just because it is organic or vegan does not mean it is safe.

Carrageenan is the perfect example. Carrageenan is a seaweed / red algae extract mostly found in the Atlantic Ocean and is used widely as food additive. It is used as thickener and emulsifier in food such as ice cream, yogurt, veggie dogs, some popular almond and soy milk brands.

Major (peer reviewed) studies conducted by Dr. Tobacman over the years have linked food grade Carrageenan to inflammation in our body. Chronic inflammation in effect is linked to other diseases such as Cancer.

In Dr. Tobacman’s study in mice, Carrageenan can also interfere with insulin and glucose interaction and lead to diabetes.

Unfortunately, all her research has been ignored by the FDA.

Meanwhile, the best way to avoid it is to buy brands that do not use Carrageenan as an ingredient.

Please view this great Video on Carrageenan for more information.

25 COMMENTS

  1. SO MUCH FOR THE MYTHS
    CONSIDER THE FACTS ON CARRAGEENAN FOR A CHANGE

    Q. What is Carrageenan??

    A. Carrageenan is a naturally-occurring seaweed extract. It is widely used in foods and non-foods to improve texture and stability. Common uses include meat and poultry, dairy products, canned pet food, cosmetics and toothpaste.
    Q. Why the controversy?
    A. Self-appointed consumer watchdogs have produced numerous web pages filled with words condemning carrageenan as an unsafe food additive for human consumption. However, in 70+ years of carrageenan being used in processed foods, not a single substantiated claim of an acute or chronic disease has been reported as arising from carrageenan consumption. On a more science-based footing, food regulatory agencies in the US, the EU, and in the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization/World Health Organization (FAO/WHO) repeatedly review and continue to approve carrageenan as a safe food additive.
    Q. What has led up to this misrepresentation of the safety of an important food stabilizer, gelling agent and thickener?
    A. It clearly has to be attributed to the research of Dr. Joanne Tobacman, an Associate Prof at the University of Illinois in Chicago. She and a group of molecular biologists have accused carrageenan of being a potential inflammatory agent as a conclusion from laboratory experiments with cells of the digestive tract. It requires a lot of unproven assumptions to even suggest that consumption of carrageenan in the human diet causes inflammatory diseases of the digestive tract. The objectivity of the Chicago research is also flawed by the fact that Dr Tobacman has tried to have carrageenan declared an unsafe food additive on weak technical arguments that she broadcast widely a decade before the University of Chicago research began.

    Q. What brings poligeenan into a discussion of carrageenan?
    A. Poligeenan (“degraded carrageenan” in pre-1988 scientific and regulatory publications) is a possible carcinogen to humans; carrageenan is not. The only relationship between carrageenan and poligeenan is that the former is the starting material to make the latter. Poligeenan is not a component of carrageenan and cannot be produced in the digestive tract from carrageenan-containing foods.
    Q. What are the differences between poligeenan and carrageenan?
    A. The production process for poligeenan requires treating carrageenan with strong acid at high temp (about that of boiling water) for 6 hours or more. These severe processing conditions convert the long chains of carrageenan to much shorter ones: ten to one hundred times shorter. In scientific terms the molecular weight of poligeenan is 10,000 to 20,000; whereas that of carrageenan is 200,000 to 800,000. Concern has been raised about the amount of material in carrageenan with molecular weight less than 50,000. The actual amount (well under 1%) cannot even be detected accurately with current technology. Certainly it presents no threat to human health.
    Q. What is the importance of these molecular weight differences?
    A. Poligeenan contains a fraction of material low enough in molecular weight that it can penetrate the walls of the digestive tract and enter the blood stream. The molecular weight of carrageenan is high enough that this penetration is impossible. Animal feeding studies starting in the 1960s have demonstrated that once the low molecular weight fraction of poligeenan enters the blood stream in large enough amounts, pre-cancerous lesions begin to form. These lesions are not observed in animals fed with a food containing carrageenan.

    Q. Does carrageenan get absorbed in the digestive track?
    A. Carrageenan passes through the digestive system intact, much like food fiber. In fact, carrageenan is a combination of soluble and insoluble nutritional fiber, though its use level in foods is so low as not to be a significant source of fiber in the diet.
    Summary
    Carrageenan has been proven completely safe for consumption. Poligeenan is not a component of carrageenan.
    Closing Remarks
    The consumer watchdogs with their blogs and websites would do far more service to consumers by researching their sources and present only what can be substantiated by good science. Unfortunately we are in an era of media frenzy that rewards controversy.
    Additional information available:
    On June 11th, 2008, Dr. Joanne Tobacman petitioned the FDA to revoke the current regulations permitting use of carrageenan as a food additive.
    On June 11th, 2012 the FDA denied her petition, categorically addressing and ultimately dismissing all of her claims; their rebuttal supported by the results of several in-depth, scientific studies.
    If you would like to read the full petition and FDA response, they can be accessed at http://www.regulations.gov/#!searchResults;rpp=25;po=0;s=FDA-2008-P-0347

  2. Hi Debbie and thank you for trying to correct my post or venting at it 🙂 However there are tons of evidence against food grade Carrageenan. The fact that FDA has ignored her studies does not prove anything. FDA has a habit of approving ingredients and then taking them away. The burden of proof is not on FDA but rather on manufacturers and other scientists as far as safety is concern. As long as manufacturers claim that their product is safe is good enough for FDA!

    You cannot ignore Dr Tobacman’s work and study. Also why not try to be on the safe side rather than eating something that could be harmful?

    Also I visited you site and you work for a manufacturer of Carrageenan!

    Here are is link for your to consider too:
    http://www.cornucopia.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/02/Carrageenan-Report1.pdf

    Regards.

  3. You have a right to your opinion as do the rest of us. Personally if I thought carrageenan was a danger I would not allow my family to consume it and I wouldn’t work for a company that sells it.
    I prefer to look at the hard scientific studies that have been performed under strict laboratory practices that study the ingredient in way that gives accurate results as opposed to the hypothesis, conjecture and misleading results that can be found all over the internet.
    As for Cornucopia, have you taken the time to look to see where their funding REALLY comes from and who’s interest they are really looking out for?

  4. I think you miss the point here. Why use a product that could be harmful? It is not as if there are not any other alternatives for Carrageenan. And why are you so quick to dismiss a Dr’s work with 18 peer reviewed studies / reports?

    Sure, you feel it is safe and eat it. I don’t feel comfortable eating it. At the end of the day it is those “studies” that seem controversial that make a difference.

    Also, I will be very happy to read those “hard scientific data” if you forward them to me. As for me, Dr. Tobacman’s work is hard scientific data!

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