What Is Carrageenan And Is It Safe To Eat?

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What Is Carrageenan And Is It Safe To EatImage – Wellness Mama

Carrageenan is one of those strange ingredients that “flies under the radar”. It doesn’t have a name that sounds like Methyldihydrobenzoacetate… and so it doesn’t “sound evil”… it sounds like it might be made from brown rice husks or something. But do you know what it is?

Most people don’t. And it’s very common in organic food products – being seen in dairy and dairy substitute products, including coconut milks (which are supposed to be made from just coconut.. aren’t they?). Carrageenan is found in items made by Silk, So Delicious, Starbucks, Horizon Organic, Zico, Blue Diamond, Pacific Natural Foods, Carnation and Tempt.

It turns out that carrageenan is a highly processed seaweed extract. Carrageenans are a family of linear sulphated polysaccharides that are extracted from red edible seaweeds. The seaweed is treated with potassium hydroxide, [1] washed, dried, and milled.

There are various grades of carrageenan and problems have occurred because it has been found in degraded condition in foods. [2] This is important to understand – not all carrageenan is the same. One type of carrageenan is listed by the World Health Organization’s International Agency for Research on Cancer as a “possible human carcinogen.” [3] When you ingest the “undergraded version” of Carrageenan, it actually starts to degrade in the gastrointestinal tract and in the liver and turn into a carcinogen, resulting in a serious inflammatory agent that also can cause intestinal abnormalities.

Potentially serious harmful gastrointestinal effects of carrageenan have been indicated for decades – and numerous studies were reviewed in depth in 2001 by the College of Medicine at the University of Iowa, which found reports of intestinal lesions and colonic tumors in animal studies. [4]

In short, this is not really an ingredient which seems very safe to ingest. Various people are campaigning for its removal from organic / healthy foods and here are some links to further great reports:

What Is Carrageenan And Is It Safe To Eat – Wellness Mama (our image source)

Campaign To Remove Carrageenan From Foods – FoodBabe

Cornucopia Institute report on Carrageenan

Our final note: Check your ingredients! If you don’t know what’s in the food or beverages you are consuming, find out! You not only have a right but a duty to know – and to resist suspect food manufacturing practices. For best results, I would suggest making your own food from “real” ingredients as much as possible.

Real coconut milk containing nothing but coconut milk, anyone? 😉

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  • By Songchat Chatkeo, August 23, 2014 @ 5:19 am


  • By sheri goodwin, August 24, 2014 @ 3:39 pm

    Please remove Carrageenan from all food, preparation, and preservation. Will be looking for it on my labels

  • By Andrea, August 26, 2014 @ 4:37 pm

    I just checedd my Silk unsweetened Coconut milk and yes it has carrageenan in it but Silk has a new product where I live and its an Almond/Coconut Milk and it is NOT on the ingredient list!!!!!!

  • By kath, August 28, 2014 @ 11:30 pm

    I wonder how safe then it is to use natural Irish moss as in a lot of raw food and natural food and dessert recipes used as thickened or selling agent.

  • By Marilyn Kaplan, October 22, 2014 @ 9:00 pm

    And for people like me who are acutely allergic to Iodine…. It most definitely is a trigger!!!

  • By Colleen, April 24, 2016 @ 8:39 pm

    I’ve had problems with carrageenan for years, and have also discovered that any thickeners or stabilizers are also a problem. Please also be careful of guar gum, zanthan gum. and any other thickeners or stabilizers if you have a problem with carrageenan.

  • By Barbara Zeigler, February 7, 2019 @ 10:47 am

    Thank you so much for the education. There’s so much danger with our food supply we are unaware of.

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