– Why Is Gut-Wrecking Carrageenan in So Many Organic Food Products? (Truthstream Media, March 5, 2014):
“The common food additive carrageenan (CGN) predictably induces intestinal inflammation in animal models.” — Bhattacharyya S, et al., 2013
“During the past decade carrageenan has become much used experimentally mainly for its ability to induce an acute inflammation.” — Di Rosa M, 1972
“Carrageenan is readily taken up by macrophages and stored in lysosomes, which subsequently swell and rupture, apparently resulting in cell death.” — Catanzaro PJ, Schwartz HJ, & Graham RC, 1971
Carrageenan is a dangerous food additive that causes inflammation of the gut — it has no place in our food, but especially not in organic/natural products. The industry lobbied the USDA Organic Standards Board for its approval, so there it is. Alternatives like guar gum and carob bean gum do not have any of the same risks and side effects.
Dr. Joanne Tobacman has researched carrageenan extensively, and testified before the Organic Standards Board to argue against its approval for organic products, but was ignored. In just one of her many studies, Tobacman covered the risk of this food additive in her research paper Review of harmful gastrointestinal effects of carrageenan in animal experiments, arguing in the abstract:
In this article I review the association between exposure to carrageenan and the occurrence of colonic ulcerations and gastrointestinal neoplasms in animal models. Although the International Agency for Research on Cancer in 1982 identified sufficient evidence for the carcinogenicity of degraded carrageenan in animals to regard it as posing a carcinogenic risk to humans, carrageenan is still used widely as a thickener, stabilizer, and texturizer in a variety of processed foods prevalent in the Western diet. I reviewed experimental data pertaining to carrageenan’s effects with particular attention to the occurrence of ulcerations and neoplasms in association with exposure to carrageenan. In addition, I reviewed from established sources mechanisms for production of degraded carrageenan from undegraded or native carrageenan and data with regard to carrageenan intake. Review of these data demonstrated that exposure to undegraded as well as to degraded carrageenan was associated with the occurrence of intestinal ulcerations and neoplasms. This association may be attributed to contamination of undegraded carrageenan by components of low molecular weight, spontaneous metabolism of undegraded carrageenan by acid hydrolysis under conditions of normal digestion, or the interactions with intestinal bacteria. Although in 1972, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration considered restricting dietary carrageenan to an average molecular weight > 100,000, this resolution did not prevail, and no subsequent regulation has restricted use. Because of the acknowledged carcinogenic properties of degraded carrageenan in animal models and the cancer-promoting effects of undegraded carrageenan in experimental models, the widespread use of carrageenan in the Western diet should be reconsidered.
In fact, an investigative reporter from the Chicago Tribune asked the FDA to turn over even one peer-reviewed independent study — that is, one study not funded by carrageenan manufacturers — which showed that this additive was indeed safe and the FDA did not do it. The carrageenan lobbies, not surprisingly, did not provide any either.
Tons of foods at Whole Foods include this ingredient. We have left the following comments at Whole Foods, including contact info, about this dangerous ingredient that shows up in all kinds of “organic” and “natural” foods – ranging from ice cream, to coconut milk and even meat! It’s even used in infant formula. So far, we have not heard back from anyone (but at least they take the comments).