Carrageenan A Food Additive That Has Many Health Risks

carrageenan toxic food additive

Attention! I have some disturbing news about a natural  food additive used in many foods both conventional and organic.  It is called carrageenan which is derived from red seaweed compound. This is a natural thickener, gelling agent, or emulsifier that is commonly used in dairy products such as yogurt, sour cream, cottage cheese, chocolate milk, many ice creams, creamers and many dairy alternatives such as soy-milk, almond milk, and even coconut milk.   It is used as a vegan alternative to gelatin. Some say it’s the vegetarian equivalent of casein.

It is in many processed foods, especially processed meats. It can also be found in personal care products such as toothpaste and shaving cream.

This unnecessary food additive that the USDA has determined safe for certified organic foods now has many people concerned from some recent research that shows it could be extremely harmful to your health.

What is this new research?

  • According to research of  Joanne Tobacman, M.D. at the University of Iowa who is the assistant professor of clinical medicine claims — “Evidence from animal models has demonstrated that degraded carrageenan causes ulcerations and malignancies in the gastrointestinal tract,”
  • Dr. Tobacman commented published an extensive review of 45 investigations on harmful gastrointestinal effects of carrageenan in animal experiments. The article was published in the October issue of Environmental Health Perspectives, the journal of the National Institute for Environmental Health Sciences   “There seems to be enough evidence associating carrageenan with significant gastrointestinal lesions, including malignancies, to avoid ingesting it,” she said.
  • She also added that the findings over the years in Europe and the United States suggest that assumptions about the safety of carrageenan need to be reconsidered and this additive “carrageenan” may need to be better regulated by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
  • It has been associated with many food allergies and believed to suppress the immune system.

Why and How is carrageenan harmful to health?

  • Carrageenan could cause serious health problems because of its propensity to trigger inflammation which is the foundation of over 100 diseases including —  rheumatoid arthritis, atherosclerosis, inflammatory bowel disease — according to Dr Tobacman.
  • Carrageenan also seems to feed other life-threatening conditions like cancer. Research shows a strong link to gastrointestinal cancer in rats from  regular consumption.

Why is carrageenan permitted in organic products?

I know my question is why is the ingredient allowed in organic foods that are supposed to be pure, natural, safe, and healthy?

It’s greed my friends – plain and simple. The corporate world values profit over integrity.   The organic food industry has become so profitable and many large conventional food companies, such as Kellogg, PepsiCo and General Mills, have bought out many of the nation’s organic food companies.

NOSB (National Organic Standard Board) who set standards for organic products are being dominated, corrupted and influenced by these big corporations.  In a recent meeting of NOSB, members voted 10 to 5 to retain carrageenan on the list of questionable ingredients that can be used in products having the “certified organic” label.

*****Dr.  Tobacman notes that other natural gums used as food additives, such as locust bean, guar and xanthan, have no known health risks and could be used to replace carrageenan.

Foods and Products That Are Carrageenan-free: 

(To see a full list of organic products this working list provided by the Cornicopia Institute.)

Chocolate Milk

  • Castle Rock Organic Farms
  • Crystal Ball Farms
  • Strafford Organic Creamery
  • Trickling Springs Creamery

Coconut Milk/Water

  • Amy and Brian (juice)
  • Blue Monkey
  • Cadia
  • Coco Libre
  • Harmless Harvest Organic 100% Raw
  • Knudsen’s (coconut nectar)
  • Naked Juice (coconut water)
  • Native Forest
  • Roland Coconut
  • Thai Kitchen
  • Tropical Traditions (cream)
  • Yoga Earth Purity (powder beverage)

Cottage Cheese

  • Nancy’s
  • Organic Valley (regular and low-fat)
  • Kalona Supernatural (regular and low-fat)


  • Organic Valley (pasteurized only…ultrapasteurized contains carrageenan)
  • Butterworks Farm
  • Strauss Family Creamery

Ice Cream

  • Stonyfield
  • Green & Black’s Organic
  • Julie’s (except mint fudge, mocha fudge and peanut butter fudge)
  • Alden’s
  • Ben and Jerry’s Organic
  • Castle Rock Organic Farms
  • Crystal Ball Farms
  • Strafford Organic Creamery
  • Strauss Family Creamery

Nutritional Drinks

  • B.R.A.T.
  • PediaSmart
  • Svelte


  • EdenSoy  —  except for chocolate-flavored EdenSoy. Eden is in the process of reformulating its chocolate soy milk)
  • Pacific Foods (organic unsweetened original)
  • Soy Dream (classic vanilla and enriched chocolate)
  • Soy Dream – (Refrigerated (classical original)
  • Trader Joe’s Unsweetened in aseptic package (refrigerated does contain carrageenan)
  • Westsoy (original, unsweetened, lowfat)


 I feel if there is any chance of any adverse health affects in a product than it should be taken off the market until proven safe. I strongly urge you to be diligent and always read  labels very carefully even on organic products. There is much evidence that carrageenan is toxic to our health and we are the only ones that can control what we eat and to protect our families health. Make the right choices!  Your health and life may depend on it!

About the author

Hi! Thanks for visiting my blog! I believe in living green, organically, and natural in every aspect of our lives. My mission is to help educate you on how to live green, help save our environment and to help you and your family live a happier, healthier life!

4 thoughts on “Learn The Scoop About Carrageenan – Your Health Could Depend On It!”

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  3. I started getting painful “IBS” about 5 years ago. The same area burned, then swelled so much I looked 6 mos pregnant with bad attacks. Ultrasound, many CTs, 2 colonoscopies, my 3rd GI told me I didn’t sound crazy when I told him: “I’ve done numerous rule-out diets, and the only pattern I pickup on is that it’s commercial foods that trigger my IBS, but not all of them”. He explained that he too had additive-sensitivities, that I needed to eat 100% real foods for about a week to see if I didn’t have attacks – I didn’t, then challenge myself with one commercial food at a time, ideally every other day to make sure I’d know which foods to avoid.

    Well I took his advice one step further and wrote down the ingredients whenever I suffered an IBS attack. Guessing it took 4-6 weeks for me to figure out carrageenan. During this time, I also figured out a few milder sensitivities, but nitrites and Annatto don’t cause such agonizing pain & inflammation that carrageenan does.

    Since it’s in the same spot each time, and I’ve had 2 colonoscopies, I’m guessing I have a patch of leaky gut. That’s the only explanation I can think of why carrageenan bothers a small percentage of people, but not all, that its leaking into the tissues of the intestine. I used to take a lot of NSAIDs after my knee surgery, and I’ve recently read that grains, especially whole grains, contributes to leaky gut.

    1. HI Shreela,
      Thanks for reading my article and I glad you shared your story. Gluten (whole grains), medications and other foods can contribute to the inflammation in leaky gut syndrome
      I truly hope that you have found the substance that is causing the problem before it does further damage to your digestive tract and your pain goes away away and healing starts for you. Just read ingredients very carefully and watch your diet closely. Carrageenan for some people have proven to be very dangerous. Just keep following your doctors advice and eat as much organic or truly natural foods as possible. Best wishes for a speedy recovery. You might want to consider asking your doctor about taking some probiotics to help you gut get back in balance.

Would love to know your thoughts!

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