03 Oct

Carrageenan’s Dangers

Carrageenan dangers have been making news for quite a time now. But what is carrrageenan? It is a naturally found substance derived from red seaweed which is used for its gelling and thickening property. It has made its way into the food products as food additive due to its pleasing appearance and taste it produces when eaten. The chemistry of carrageenan defines it as a hydrocolloid which is mainly made of sulphate esters of 3, 6-anhydrogalactose and galactose consisting of different amounts of sulfatation.



Their one of a kind chemical structure makes them an excellent texturising, gelling and thickening food additive. Due to its ability to spread and fill, it is also used in beauty products like lotions and hair products. Toothpastes also have certain amount of carrageenan because they are capable of some amazing binding abilities making them useful in oral care products. They form a suspension of the gel matrix at low dosage of these non soluble ingredients. That is why they are used in beverages because they do away with the need of stirring before drinking. A myriad of products such as ice cream, canned soup, baby formula, chocolate milk, Rice milk, juice coconut milk, frozen Organic Pizza contain high levels of food grade carrageenan.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA


The prolonged scientific research and tests and the recent campaign for organicalness has criticised the usage of carrageenan in food products. The perusal of the scientific literature available, on the harmlessness or wholesomeness of carrageenan is again all rage among the consumers. Various studies conducted by scientist have shown that undegraded carrageenan which has a high molecular weight, is used as food additive and not degraded carrageenan. The dietary studies have pointed to the flipper side of this algal extract. Is Carrageenan safe? The unique chemical structure of carrageenan stimulates a natural  immune response in the body, which recognizes it as a dangerous invader. This response leads to inflammation. When food-grade or undegraded carrageen is processed with acid it degrades into degraded carrageen alias poligeenan. Therefore undegraded is taken in, the acid of the stomach will reduce it into low weight poligeenan causing health problems. Therefore people run the risk of consuming poligeenan because the intake of food-grade carrageenan may degrade into poligeenan in acidic medium of the stomach. Undegraded carrageenan has a high molecular weight which makes its’ absorption difficult and it passes through the body. Poligeenan is considered to be a toxic substance which causes inflammation of human digestive system. It was found that when people gave up the consumption of carrageenan products from their diet, they had reduced problems relating to body ache, belly cramps bowel inflammation and other health problems.

The best way out for a consumer, is to make choice from this chalk and cheese combination is to switch to using products that use carrageenan substitutes. Food processors use gums, such as guar gum and locust bean gum, as alternatives to carrageenan easier.