Why You Should Care About Carrageenan

IFIC Food Insight – August 27, 2014


The food fear-mongers are at it again, and carrageenan is the latest ingredient in their sights. Despite their lack of any scientific degrees or credentials, some bloggers have managed to mobilize an entire “army” of readers to help eliminate another ingredient from the food supply. This time it’s carrageenan. Dramatic claims have been made about the “dangers” of this naturally occurring food additive, but is the war on carrageenan justified by the body of scientific evidence? Let’s see how the claims stack up.

What’s All the Fuss About Carrageenan?

Despite its proven track record for providing desired qualities in foods and its natural sourcing, some activist groups and outspoken individuals and bloggers have made it their mission to eradicate carrageenan from food products. Many of those who campaign against carrageenan completely ignore its value.

Carrageenan is a naturally occurring ingredient that is extracted from red seaweed and used to improve the texture and palatability of many foods and beverages. Many commonly consumed foods and beverages contain carrageenan, such as chocolate milk, ice cream and other dairy products, salad dressings, soy and almond milk, infant formula, and some meat products.

Carrageenan is very useful in food production, as it helps to form gels, thicken liquids, and to stabilize foods. Adding carrageenan to foods can improve their texture and palatability. For example, without carrageenan, your ice cream would likely be a lot less creamy and delicious. That’s a deal-breaker–I’ll stick with the carrageenan!

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