Carrageenan is a heavily used additive in the food industry. Processed from seaweed, it is presented as safe and natural but growing evidence shows it could be dangerous. We recommend you avoid regular use of products with carargeenan included.
There Are Two Types of Carrageenan
1. Food grade carrageenan (sometimes labelled as iris moss) which is red seaweed processed with alkali. This is used to give foods and drinks that oily full texture and keep ingredients separated. For many years, thought to be safe, it even appears in some health and organic products.
2. Degraded carrageenan, (or poligeenan) which is seaweed processed with acid. This is a known carcinogen and powerful inflammatory agent. It is used in experiments to induce inflammation in animals when testing anti-inflammatory drugs.
Food grade carrageenan has been used for decades in the food industry. It is inexpensive, convenient, and they known how well it works to give processed foods the texture they want. They have therefor responded to growing evidence and pressure from consumer groups not to eliminate it, but rather to spend millions of dollars to lobby for its continued use and to smear scientists and advocates who present evidence of its dangers.
7 Indications Food Grade Carrageenan Is Not Safe
1. Studies show that food grade carrageenan causes bowel and intestine inflammation ( 1-5 ), and diabetes ( 7), in animals, and reduced enzyme activity in human epithelial cells. (6)
2. Scientists are concerned that the acid environment of the stomach is perhaps transforming the food grade carrageenan into the known inflammatory degraded carrageenan.
3. Individuals with sensitive digestive systems and bowel disorders often experience profound relief of their symptoms and suffering when they eliminate carrageenan products from their diet.
4. Even if you do not have digestive problems, and thus experience obvious immediate responses to the inflammation effects of carrageenan, long term inflammation is now linked to a host of diseases such as Alzheimer’s, arthritis, cancer, diabetes, heart disease, and signs of aging Read Inflammation: The Slow Silent Killer.
5. It’s possible that all foods grade carrageenan supplies are contaminated with the destructive degraded carrageenan. The industry allows up to 5% degraded carrageenan in food grade supplies and still considers it ‘safe’ but one survey by marinalg.org showed 8 or 12 samples over this already high limit.
6. Consumer groups petitioned the FDA to have it declared unsafe. The FDA did not do so but only because it did not review all the relevant scientific studies in this field. It is assumed that the FDA was under strong pressure from the food industry to come up with this hasty ruling.
7. Most of the information you get pertaining to its safety is coming from a powerful food industry which is governed by its own self interests of profit and not your long term health.
3 Reasons You Just Don’t NEED Carrageenan
1. Carrageenan has NO nutritional value.
2. There ARE healthier ingredient alternatives. There are products that don’t contain carrageenan so you can just read labels and be smart. For example, there are gums that have the same effect as carrageenan.
3. There are mechanical alternatives. If the ingredients in a product are separating , you can just SHAKE the container. Some healthier manufactures suggest this on the label.
- Wat J and Marcus R (1969) Ulcerative colitis in the guinea-pig caused by seaweed extract. Journal of Pharmacy and Pharmacology 21:187S–188S.
- Grasso P, Sharra! M, Carpanini FMB, Gangolli SD (1973) Studies on carrageenan and large-bowel ulceration
in mammals. Food and Cosmetics Toxicology 11:555–564.
- Wat J and Marcus R (1981) Harmful ffects of carrageenan fed to animals. Cancer Detection and Prevention 4(1-4): 129-34.
- Weiner ML (1991) Toxicological properties of carrageenan. Agents and Actions 32(1-2): 46-51.
- Tobacman JK (2001) Review of Harmful Gastrointestinal Effects of Carrageenan in Animal Experiments. Environmental Health Perspectives 109(10): 983-994.
- Bha!acharyya S, Borthakus A, Dudeja PK and Tobacman JK (2007) Carrageenan reduces bone morphogenetic
protein-4 (BMP4) and activates the Wnt/ beta-catenin pathway in normal human colonocytes. Digestive Diseases and Sciences 52(10): 2766-74.
- Bha!acharyya S, O-Sullivan I, Katyal S, UntermanT and Tobacman JK (2012) Exposure to the common food additive carrageenan leads to glucose intolerance, insulin resistance and inhibition of insulin signalling in HepG2 cells and C57BL/6J mice. Diabetologia 55(1): 194-203.