Carrageenan is used for gelling and thickening food substances. It is commonly used in the food industry as additives to meat and dairy products. It is obtained naturally from red seaweed and it is used as a substitute for gelatin in vegan foods.
Carrageenan has little to no nutritional effect and its use isn’t justified considering its potential for harm. It is mostly used as a stabilizer. It helps to prevent the separation of creamy and milky substances.
Carrageenan is widely criticized because it is suspected to do damage to the intestinal areas of the body. But despite these claims, the government still approves it as a food ingredient and thus widely used in the food industry.
What are the dangers of Carrageenan?
Health organizations around the world have detected a potential health risk in the consumption of carrageenan. Carrageenan is not digestible and can be destructive to the digestive system. It causes ulcers and inflammation in the stomach leading to gastrointestinal disease in animals which ultimately leads to colon cancer.
Carrageenan, when put together with acid, develops into degraded carrageenan. Degraded carrageenan is a food additive that can cause bowel disorders, gut tumors and can eventually lead to cancer. The effects of this can be lethal to individuals, and it is highly advised that we avoid products containing degraded carrageenans. Obviously, the higher the exposure, the higher the risks.
HOW DOES CARRAGEENAN END UP IN PRODUCTS?
Carrageenan is added to dairy products like milk, yogurt, ice-cream, etc. The need to make these products creamy to satisfy customer expectations forces manufacturers to include carrageenan in their products.
WHERE IS CARRAGEENAN FOUND?
Carrageenan comes from a type of seaweed called Irish Moss. It is extracted and used for gelling and stabilizing dairy products. Most yogurts, ice-creams and other creamy foods have a tendency to have Carrageenan as one of the main ingredients.
Carrageenan is most often seen on products that are formulated with a few ingredients such as in the case of chocolate milk or
HOW TO RECOGNIZE IT ON A LABEL
Most dairy food products containing carrageenan are often labeled as such, the primary name. So whenever shopping for dairy products, check for this particular name.
Some dairy products that are formulated without carrageenan are proud to say so due to the public’s concern.
Carrageenan does appear to play an important role in making dairy products look good and have a good texture. But the adverse effects are not worth it due to the possible adverse effects on our intestines. When swallowed your stomach will not care how creamy it was but it will notice the carrageenan it cannot digest.