What is Carrageenan?

Carrageenan is a soluble fiber product that is derived from red seaweed.  It has been used for hundreds of years and is added as a stabilizer to various foods such as ice cream and other dairy products, syrups and lunch meats.  Carrageenan is cultivated in an environmental-friendly and sustainable manner and its minimal processing makes it an ideal ingredient for organic foods.

 

It has several functions when added to foods:

  • Enable foods to be produced with lower levels of fats and sugars
  • Extend shelf life without loss of quality
  • Eliminate the need for refrigeration
  • Use as a thickening agent (much like flour or cornstarch) 

 

Is it safe?

Carrageenan is considered to be safe and a suitable food additive as demonstrated in many studies.  It is naturally occurring, non-synthetic, and one of the safest food additives available.  There are studies that claim there is a connection between ingestion of carrageenan and inflammation of the digestive tract or cancer, but these conclusions seem to have been misinterpreted due to flawed methodology and comparisons.  The International Agency for Research on Cancer has deemed carrageenan to be non-carcinogenic.  It is not to be confused with poligeenan, which is not a food additive and has no functionality in food

 

Environmentally Friendly

It does not require fresh water or arable water to cultivate red seaweed.  Small family farms in Southeast Asia, providing them the economic bases to sustain their communities, produce most carrageenan.  It also enables food items to eliminate the need for refrigeration, which reduces electricity and fossil fuel consumption.

Below is an infographic that summarizes how seaweed farming improves the global food system.

To learn more about carrageenan, visit Food Science Matters.

 

References
[i] Facts about Carageenan. FMC Corporation. Accessed at: http://www.foodsciencematters.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/10/3.CGN-FactSheetFAQsTalkingPoints_8.13.pdf
Aoi Goto, DTR

Aoi is a dietetic technician and holds a Bachelor’s degree in Nutrition and Food Studies from New York University. She began as an intern at Savor Health in her senior year before joining the team as the Community Manager. Her work involves customer service, managing website/blog/social media, and assisting with various projects. She is interested in the oncology field and plans to continue her education to become a Registered Dietitian.

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