Carrageenan, a soluble fiber derived from red seaweed, is a natural food ingredient that has been used for hundreds of years in cooking all over the world. It often replaces synthetic and animal-based products. Carrageenan from DuPont Nutrition & Health is certified as both halal and kosher. It is also commonly used in vegetarian and vegan diets and lifestyles.
Carrageenan is one of nature’s perfect stabilizers, offering benefits in texture, structure and physical appearance to foods and enabling the delivery of a more indulgent product, even for those foods that may have lower calorie, salt, sugar or fat content.
It enables the suspension of chocolate in chocolate milk, a creamy texture in lower fat yogurt, lunchmeat that remains moist and fresh and the extension and protection of the nutritional value of protein.
Carrageenan requires minimum processing and can actually be extracted from seaweed in any home kitchen, much like the Irish did hundreds of years ago. The process involves simply cooking seaweed with a little salt, adding a bit of alcohol and then mixing it in a household blender to release the natural carrageenan. The process is mild and preserves the functionality already in the seaweed. The effect of processing increases the amount of usable carrageenan in the seaweed, minimizing waste.
An overwhelming body of evidence supports the conclusion that carrageenan is safe and suitable for use in food.
Regulatory authorities in every region of the world including the United States, Europe, China, Japan and Brazil have found carrageenan safe for use in food.
Most recently, in July 2014, the Joint FAO/WHO Expert Committee on Food Additives (JECFA), “concluded that the use of carrageenan in infant formula and formulae for special medical purposes for infants up to concentrations of 1000 mg/L is not of concern”. The committee reviewed all studies, including those claiming negative effects of carrageenan, and concluded that carrageenan was safe, even for those most vulnerable in our population—infants.
In addition, experts from the World Health Organization have placed carrageenan in the best possible category for any food additive, noting it “does not in the opinion of the committee represent a hazard to health.”
The International Agency for Research on Cancer has found carrageenan to be non-carcinogenic. It also doesn’t cause inflammation of the gastrointestinal tract.
Carrageenan can be found in a number of foods you eat every day, including yogurts, cheeses, chocolate milk and almond milk, ice cream, salad dressing, jams and jellies, hotdogs, and more. It can also be found in personal care products like toothpaste, shampoo and conditioner, body soaps, face wash, makeup, and more.
Carrageenan is used in wet forms of dog and cat food as a stabilizer or emulsifier, bringing a consistent texture and feeding experience. The same high-quality carrageenan enjoyed by many of us in ice cream, yogurt and other foods in used in the pet food industry.
Millions of dogs and cats enjoy wet pet food every day that includes carrageenan as an ingredient without incident or any evidence of harm. Any claim suggesting otherwise is entirely unsupported by any evidence and runs counter to the overwhelming body of evidence supporting its safety in food and animal feed.
Toothpaste manufacturers rely on hydrocolloid companies to provide stabilizing solutions for their oral hygiene products. Carrageenan is one of those important hydrocolloids used to stabilize toothpaste and ensure that the active ingredients do not separate. Carrageenan has been used since the 1930s in foods and cosmetics to improve texture and stability. Food-grade carrageenan is an entirely safe and appropriate ingredient for toothpaste.
For more information on the history of carrageenan click here.
For more information on the science of carrageenan click here.
For more information on the sustainability of carrageenan click here.
For more information on the nutritional benefits of carrageenan click here.