Why You Should Avoid All Products With This Ingredient

The next time you buy any prepared or packaged food at your health food store or supermarket, check the label for Carrageenan. Simply put, carrageenan does to your intestines, what poison ivy does to your skin (source). 

Why you should avoid all products with this ingredient!Numerous studies conducted on lab animals and human cells over the last four decades have suggested that carrageenan can cause gastrointestinal inflammation, malignant tumors and colon cancer. The body considers it an invader and creates an inflammatory response. In fact, after studying the effects of human consumption of carrageenan for more than a decade and publishing 18 peer-reviewed studies, respected physician and professor Joanne Tobacman (University of Illinois at Chicago) was so convinced that it should not be ingested  she went so far as to petition the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to prohibit the use of carrageenan in food. Perhaps not surprisingly, the FDA has denied her request.

The EU, although not completely banning carrageenan, has at the very least banned it from infant formula in which it is rampantly found in North America. The EU however, has “no objection to the use of carrageenan in foods for older infants”. (source)

Carrageenan is even a trending term on twitter with posts such as:

@citypuncture: “Carrageenan causes inflammation in the digestive tract”

@foodfacts.com: “The Girl Scouts is a terrific org, but their cookies are another matter: #transfats#artificialflavors#carrageenan”

@commondreams: “FDA Puts Industry Profit Over Public Health – Defends Safety of Controversial Food Additive#carrageenan”

Sounds like folks are getting the message that carrageenan is damaging to our health!

But it comes from seaweed!

True. Carrageenan is derived from seaweed (most often from the Philippines), but it is processed with Alkali (e.g., 5–8% potassium hydroxide). Its cellulose is then removed and it then undergoes further and further processing. The final product is so far removed from its original source that it’s unrecognizable to your body 

What’s its use?

Carrageenan is a multi faceted food texturizer. It substitutes fat in countless ‘fat-free’ products and provides a thick texture in non dairy products. It also serves as a stabilizer in beverages that may seperate and require shaking (ie. protein drinks) and let’s not forget its use as a binder in deli meats. I guess it’s a well rounded food additive (enter sarcastic voice here).

Where is it found?

Carrageenan is found in everything from ice cream (dairy and non dairy), chocolate milk, deli meats, canned soup, frozen prepared foods and baby formula!

You’d probably be horrified to find out that even many of your favorite organic brands add carrageenan to their products. Here are just a few:



Chocolate Milk
  • Horizon
  • Organic Valley
  • etc…
Cottage Cheese
  • 365 Whole Foods (lowfat and fat free)
  • Horizon
  • Trader Joe’s
  • etc…
Sour Cream
  • Horizon (lowfat)
  • Natural By Nature
  • etc…
  • Stonyfield (Oikos – caramel flavor only, Squeezers – all flavors)
  • Trader Joe’s (Squishers™)
  • Yami Organic
  • etc…
Almond Milk
  • Almond Breeze (Blue Diamond)
  • Almond Dream (original, unsweetened, vanilla, and unsweetened vanilla)
  • Natur-a
  • Pacific Foods
  • So Delicious
  • Trader Joe’s
  • etc…
Chocolate Soy Milk
  • 365 Whole Foods
  • Organic Valley
  • etc…

Also on the list are Rice milk, coconut milk, ice cream, lunch meats, dips, juice, frozen Organic Pizza (annie’s).

Carrageenan also knows no boundaries when it comes to conventional products like:

  • Cold Stone Creamery
  • Nestle Nesquik
  • International Delight (coffee creamer)
  • Carnation Breakfast Essentials
  • Slim Fast
  • Kraft (cottage cheeses and Philadelphis fat free cream cheese)
  • Ben and Jerry’s
  • Infant Formula-currently all ready-to-drink (liquid) infant formula, except Gerber Good Start, contains carrageenan. Avoid carrageenan in infant formula by buying organic powdered formula.
  • etc, etc, etc……

For a complete list of products that do and don’t contain carrageenan go here.

Here is a great a carrageenan free almond milk (vanilla, chocolate, strawberry) you can make yourself.

Photo source