Harmful or Harmless: Carrageenan

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Carrageenan, a heavily discussed additive in the world of alternative health, is an indigestible polysaccharide that is extracted from red algae, and is most commonly used in food as a thickener or stabilizer. Carrageenan-containing seaweeds have been used for centuries in food preparations for their gelling properties, but the refined, isolated carrageenan found in modern processed foods has raised concerns in the health-conscious online community. (1)

Carrageenan is especially common in non-dairy milks such as almond milk and coconut milk, which means that some people who transition to a Paleo diet might actually be increasing their exposure if they use these products. I discussed carrageenan on a recent podcast, but today I want to give you a more detailed summary of the evidence.

Hold the almond milk… is carrageenan affecting your health?

There are a few distinct types of carrageenan that differ in their chemical properties, but the most important distinction is between degraded carrageenan and undegraded carrageenan. From a chemical standpoint, the difference between these two types is in their molecular weight. From a practical standpoint, undegraded carrageenan is approved for use in food products, while degraded carrageenan is not. (2) Although both substances are often referred to as ‘carrageenan,’ they have very different chemical properties and should really be treated as separate compounds. Degraded carrageenan is also called ‘poligeenan,’ which is how I will refer to it in the rest of this article to avoid any confusion.

Animal studies

Most of the carrageenan hysteria stems from animal studies that implicate carrageenan in the formation of ulcerations and cancerous lesions in the colon. A thorough review of the approximately 45 available animal studies on carrageenan was published in 2001, and at first glance, these studies seem alarming. However, it turns out that the majority of these animal experiments used poligeenan instead of carrageenan, and as I mentioned before, these are two separate compounds with different effects. Poligeenan is significantly more detrimental to the health of lab animals than carrageenan, so the lack of a clear designation between them has given carrageenan a worse reputation than it deserves.

One important difference is that while poligeenan can cause cancer on its own when given in high enough concentrations, undegraded carrageenan has only ever been shown to accelerate cancer formation when administered with a known carcinogen. (3) In other words, food-grade carrageenan has not been shown to cause cancer in animal models. That doesn’t necessarily mean carrageenan is in the clear when it comes to cancer, but contrary to popular belief, it is not a known carcinogen.

Additionally, poligeenan produces more severe ulceration and inflammation than carrageenan, and at lower concentrations. As an example, a study on rhesus monkeys using poligeenan at 0.5-2% resulted in diarrhea, hemorrhage, and ulcerations, while carrageenan at 1-3% resulted in no colonic changes. (4) (For reference, the concentration of carrageenan in processed food is usually between 0.01% and 1%.) (5)

However, carrageenan has produced intestinal damage in some animal studies. Observed effects in rats include epithelial cell loss, increased intestinal permeability, and diarrhea. (6) In guinea pigs, carrageenan at a 5% concentration in the diet caused ulcers in the colon, although a similar concentration in the diets of rats and hamsters resulted in no difference from controls. (7) In pigs, concentrations of carrageenan between .05 and .5% administered for 83 days resulted in abnormalities in the intestinal lining, but no ulcerations or tumors. (8) Still, a more recent rat study found no ulcerations or lesions in the colon after 90 days of carrageenan administration. (9) These studies suggest that the effects of carrageenan are highly species-dependent, which makes it more difficult to extrapolate these results to humans.

There are a few other important considerations when determining how applicable these results are to humans. Many of these experiments administered the carrageenan through the animals’ drinking water as opposed to their food, which tends to increase the severity of the resulting symptoms. Because carrageenan interacts with protein molecules, consuming it as part of a solid food is much less harmful than consuming it in water. Also, although many of the concentrations administered are comparable to concentrations found in processed foods, many experiments were conducted at concentrations much higher than humans would ever encounter on a normal diet. Remember, these studies are looking at carrageenan as a percentage of the entire diet, not just less than 1% of a small portion of the total diet, as is the case when using milk replacement products.

Human studies

Experimental evidence on the effects of carrageenan in humans is extremely limited, for obvious ethical reasons. However, a few in vitro experiments have been conducted on isolated human intestinal cells.

One study found that in intestinal epithelial tissue, carrageenan exposure increased the expression of two pro-inflammatory transcription factors. (10) This reaction appears to be protective of the intestinal tight junctions, because suppression of either of the inflammatory factors resulted in increased permeability of the isolated epithelial tissue. Unfortunately, it’s unclear whether they used food-grade carrageenan rather than poligeenan in this experiment.

Two similar studies that did use food-grade carrageenan also found that isolated intestinal epithelial tissue responded to carrageenan by up regulating inflammation. (11, 12) Another study on human intestinal epithelium found that undegraded carrageenan reduced the activity of many sulfatase enzymes, with potential negative ramifications for the function and vitality of the cell. (13)

Finally, another study found that exposing human intestinal epithelial cells to undegraded carrageenan in concentrations lower than what would be found in a typical diet caused increased cell death, reduced cell proliferation, and cell cycle arrest. (14)

These studies provide some support for the generalization of the animal studies to humans, implicating carrageenan in the potential for intestinal inflammation. However, it’s important to remember that not only were these studies in vitro (aka not in the human body), they also didn’t administer the carrageenan with any food, so the effects observed may differ significantly from what actually occurs when humans ingest carrageenan in a real-world setting.

Exposure to poligeenan

Because poligeenan can be produced from carrageenan, many researchers and laypeople have expressed concern that we might be exposed to poligeenan through contamination of the food supply. However, the most recent sources indicate that the poligeenan contamination level of food-grade carrageenan is less than 5%. (15)

Another encouraging data point in this situation is that while carrageenan is an extremely effective thickener and emulsifier at concentrations as low as .01%, poligeenan has no functional effect in food even at concentrations up to 10%. (16) Specific chemical processing is necessary for carrageenan to be degraded to poligeenan, and because poligeenan is of no use in the food industry, it seems unlikely that poligeenan would show up in appreciable quantities in processed foods.

Another concern is whether small percentages of ingested carrageenan are degraded to poligeenan in the digestive tract after consumption, either because of the acidic environment or because of intestinal bacteria. Some experimental evidence indicates that as much as 10-20% of carrageenan could be degraded to poligeenan during digestion, while other researchers (not surprisingly funded by the carrageenan industry) assert that carrageenan is stable throughout digestion. (17, 18) Regardless, the significant differences between poligeenan and carrageenan as evidenced by the reactions of lab animals make it pretty clear that even if some degradation does take place, carrageenan still doesn’t have the potential for harm that poligeenan does.

Conclusion

As with magnesium stearate and soy lecithin, carrageenan has been frequently portrayed as significantly more harmful than is supported by available evidence. Contrary to popular belief, it’s not a known carcinogen, and although some studies implicate carrageenan in ulceration and inflammation, some show no adverse effects.

However, I do still think caution is warranted. If I had to rank additives, I’d say carrageenan is a bit more concerning than the other two additives we’ve discussed so far because of its association with gut issues. Remember, in cases involving modern ingredients, the burden of proof should be on manufacturers to prove that they’re safe, rather than on consumers to prove that they’re harmful. Because the evidence isn’t conclusive either way, I recommend avoiding carrageenan, especially if you have a history of digestive problems.

Personally, I adhere to the “precautionary principle” for anything I eat; in other words, in the absence of proven safety, I choose to avoid foods that have questionable adverse effects. Carrageenan fits this description, as there’s still some doubt about its safety and no evidence has convinced me that there isn’t a potential for harm if consumed regularly.

Occasional exposure is likely nothing to worry about, but for most people reading this, avoiding carrageenan is probably as simple as making your own nut milk or coconut milk, so I would encourage you to give that a shot. Also, if you follow the links to those two posts, some commenters have shared brands of almond and coconut milk that don’t contain carrageenan (although watch out for other additives that may be present).

If anyone has any other brand recommendations or favorite non-dairy milk recipes, feel free to share in the comments!

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Comments Join the Conversation

  1. Carol White says

    There is absolutely no doubt in my mind that carrageenan is very harmful, at least to me. For years, every time I consumed certain foods, I would have rapid onset “extreme intestinal distress.” For a while, I thought I was severely lactose intolerant, except for the part where I could drink plain milk without issue. I cut out all additives, and got better. Over the years, I’ve tried home “spot tests” and yes, whenever I consume a product with carragennan, I am going to be in for a very bad night of painful cramps, bloating, and lots of diarrhea. No other ingredient has cause such severe reactions. (Guar gum is second, but it only caused minor pain and excessive gas). Also, I have no other intestinal problems (I’m not lactose intolerant, I’m not gluten intolerant, I have no other food allergies, I do not have IBS or Crohn’s, or any other intestinal inflammation issues *except* for these stabilizing additives that aren’t even necessary! Products were made for decades without it and are fine, you can still buy (with a lot of effort and searching) products that use NO stabilizers whatsoever and aren’t only fine, but are BETTER than the ones that use stabilizers (look at Haagen Dazs – you do not need to put ANY of that crap in ice cream to make amazing ice cream!)

  2. Snoopy Storey says

    Almond milk is soo easy to make, any nut milk really. Much easier and quicker than going to the grocery store or fretting over boxed milks! :)

  3. Laurie B says

    At the store today. I’ve been eagerly awaiting this time of the year because it’s eggnog season and I LOVE eggnog. Well… not any more. Every brand of eggnog at the store has carrageenan in it now, too. That’s another treat crossed off my list. To heck with all this garbage, I’m going to buy an ice cream machine and start making my own ice cream and eggnog at home. This really sucks.

  4. Lynann says

    Aloha,
    After experiencing a weird rash/breakout on my face that would never resolve, I started looking at changes in my diet….carageenan in my Organic Valley heavy whipping cream….
    Just wondering….
    We’ll see, because they lost a customer in me….
    Very disappointing Organic Valley!
    BYE BYE

  5. says

    Before I stopped eating foods with carrageenan I had acid reflux and swollen abdomen. After I stopped eating foods with carrageenan I had and have none of these problems. You may not have enough studies for verification, but I am human and have a human intestine. So I’m inclined to go with your own words and my own experience as my guide:

    Another study on human intestinal epithelium found that undegraded carrageenan reduced the activity of many sulfatase enzymes, with potential negative ramifications for the function and vitality of the cell. (13)

    Finally, another study found that exposing human intestinal epithelial cells to undegraded carrageenan in concentrations lower than what would be found in a typical diet caused increased cell death, reduced cell proliferation, and cell cycle arrest.

    • Suzie says

      Hello! What foods did you eat that had carrageenan? I started weight loss shakes and they are known to have carrageenan. I’m hoping to take it daily until I can control my eating habits. What are your thoughts on that?

  6. says

    Great informative article!
    As someone who has gotten sick from ingesting Carrageenan I would recommend you also look for the ingredient in your milks (chocolate milk too), sauces, yogurts, coffee creamers, baby formulas, protein powders, workout supplements, frozen pizzas, deli meats, turkey bacon, rotisserie chickens and beer!
    This evidence suggests that Carrageenan is harmful in diets consuming under 3% but as you can see it is in more than 80% of our commercial foods!

  7. Laurie B says

    I went to Krogers yesterday. Looked at every single beverage in the store that contained chocolate flavor, and every single one, whether milk, soy, almond, coconut, lactose free, organic, whatever, ALL contained carrageenan. I tried looking at all the powders and syrups to make chocolate milk with, and all of THOSE contained carrageenan as well. Looks like chocolate drink of any kind is out of my diet forever. :( At least I can make my own ice cream.

    • says

      Try Hershey’s natural cocoa powder, sweetener, and milk. Silk has an almond milk made without carrageenan. The only ingredient in Hershey’s natural cocoa powder is cocoa. Dissolve it first in a bit of water and sugar or sweetener–you can add some natural vanilla–on a very low heat and add the milk. We never had these problems before all the stupid additives in our foods.

      • Cassandra says

        Actually, we don’t know much about ancient humans. We know they ate grains, veggies and meat. But that’s really about it. There’s evidence Egyptians had digestive remedies(not ancient but before modern additives), so it’s highly likely ancient people’s had issues too. It’s not purely a modern day thing and there’s also evidence to suggest we’re not as healthy as we used to be, which may be part of the problem too. There’s also evidence of cancer in ice age people, so that’s not a modern problem either. I think the “modern” problems are problems humans have always had, it’s just made worse by our decline in genetic diversity(at one point there was only an estimated 2,000 humans), or possibly our poor breeding practices(also probable cause for health decline) or its just same problems but made worse by modern practices. Point is, this started WAY before corporations put food additives. Also, if I recall correctly carrageenan has been used since 1400s. It’s not new.

    • Shar says

      Make it with organic bar chocolate!…. Like in a pot on the stove old fashioned style, then just cool it in the fridge.

  8. says

    12/20/12 I went into atrial din, my pressure shot up n I went into hospital….it hit me suddenly at lunch.
    I happened to be using almond milk for two days. I know this can just hit you at any time. I tried to see if I had done anything… But I stopped the almond milk. Been on medication with no issues.
    09/27/14. Had almond milk twice ..
    Went into severe atrial fib. Sudden onset.
    Now this probably is coinsident ..
    But is there any way an allergic reaction can trigger a fib

  9. Lauren M. Smith says

    I almost made that same exact mistake the other day as Cheryl Phillips did. I was outraged when I picked up whipping cream (that should ONLY contain whipping cream) and read that they added that crap.
    I want to tell a little story and this seems like a great location: I decided I wanted a change 6 months ago or so after I read a book called Slow Death by Rubber Duck by Rick Smith and Bruce Lourie. Check it out, it’s a good, simple read. After reading the book I decided to completely cut plastic and phthalates from my life. Now I only use glass or metal drink and food containers and all natural personal care products. I cut many other things that the book discusses but plastic (ex. bisphenol A) and phthalates were by far the most pervasive. Then I decided I was really concerned about what other things greedy corporations were surrounding us and tricking us into buying/consuming; so I went digging. I bought Excitotoxins: The Taste That Kills by Russell Blaylock as mentioned by Jason many comments earlier on this thread. Immediately after finishing that book I decided to cut ALL additives, flavorings and colorings out of my food. I have also gone a step further to only buy organic and non-GMO products but that is mostly because I believe that a genetically modified food supply will destroy our planet. But that’s besides the point for now. Back to point with a little back story. I was someone who had suffered severe headaches/migraines 4-5 days a week for as long as I could remember. The doctors have checked me out over the years in about every way possible and never found anything detectably “abnormal”. So I was set to live with this for the foreseeable future. A few weeks after most of these lifestyle changes that I had adopted settled in, I realized that I had gone a few (3 or 4) days without a headache. Then those few days turned into a couple weeks. I was incredibly relieved by the trend change. I regularly go weeks without a headache now. It’s absolutely incredible! As an added bonus I began dropping pounds and am now down a total of 25. Now I am steady at a “normal” weight for my size and I feel great! But I want to make clear one thing; I have done nothing differently by means of exercise, I have only removed the toxins from my life. I have been trying to convince my family, friends and really all people around me to go as extreme as I have for multiple reasons; 1) their health and well-being 2) consumers drive the market (if no one wants it they will have to stop making it) and 3) I have great concern for the future of this planet and all of the life on it.
    Join me!
    Please try reading what I have read and doing what I have done and let me know if you achieve similar results.
    lmariesmith@gmail.com

    • totalfreedom13 says

      Way to go, Lauren!

      I’ve been buying organic and gluten-free foods for decades. If you buy certified organic you eliminate GMO foods. I never get sick (not even colds) and on September 28 will turn 69.

      On August 16 I became a vegan after watching this powerful video:

      http://www.meat.org/ (12:49)

      My best wishes to you in your path to vibrant health and total freedom from moola-hungry biz and corporations. Like you I love Mother Earth beyond comprehension.

  10. koco says

    I am just trying to learn about this. I am looking for a high protein, low carb and low calorie, non dairy gluten free milk that does not have carrageenan. Any suggestions?

  11. Lindsey says

    Rawpothecary Heavenly Hemp Milk only has four ingredients: Hemp, Coconut, Dates, Agave Nectar. Unfortunately, it is quite expensive. $10 for 14.5 oz.

    • Lisa Novogrudsky says

      More unfortunately, Agave is highly a processed sweetener.
      Seems like the best is to make it at home, see the Wellness Mama recipes for homemade nut milks. She has the best methods.

  12. Lorraine A says

    All of you who are concerned about carrageenan consumption please be aware that this carcinogen is being added into many, many more products than just dairy. So we have to learn to read the labels on everything we consider bring into our homes. The food industry does not care about out health; only their pockets. And one side thought. We also need to stay away from Aspartame as well. This is another highly toxic additive that has been incorporated in out food and drink. You can’t even find any chewing gum without it. But, this is another whole poison that needs to be discussed. Good health to you all!

  13. ria says

    anytime I bought iced cappuccino in supermarkets and they had carrageenan in it I immediately became dizzy and had pain in my stomach I had to lie down for an hour, do you think it’s related??? it seems obvious to me

  14. Lisa says

    Surprised that the China study was mentioned here.
    Dr. Chris Masterjohn, Denise Minger, and a host of other people have done an excellent job of going through this study quite thoroughly and examining every piece of it. Just reading the examination of the study is an excellent way to learn how to examine a study as well.

    Also I’d like to say something about dairy consumption – I have been on all sides of this and back. I used to question dairy because we’re the only species to eat it after weaning but that’s not a good reason not to eat it – believe Chris mentions this too. Wolves have been found in the henhouse devouring eggs, that’s the by product of another species; predatory animals eat other species for lunch, because it’s what’s available to eat, and they have preference over what’s most nutritious to them (based on instinctual tastes), and so just because we didn’t find another species that drank the milk of another doesn’t mean it’s wrong to get nutrition from it. How we do it can be very wrong or very right or something in between. Building skyscrapers and using a computer is not something animals do either, doesn’t mean that makes it wrong or strange. Making dairy items like cheese, or eating homemade fermented yogurt/kefir is not that weird. As long as we’re getting it from a small farm that treats the animals humanely practicing very good animal husbandry, lets them roam and eat what cows are supposed to eat, uses the manure and other best practices to leave the soil better than it was, and is paid a fair wage for selling it to us. Sorry if I missed anything but it sounds pretty awesome to me. Sadly I am both carageenan and dairy intolerant. :( Otherwise I would go for pastured ethical dairy for the wonderful health benefits.

    • Lisa says

      not the carageenan, no health benefits there I don’t think…
      I meant that if I COULD eat dairy, I would, and would choose one without the carageenan if possible. that’s all.

  15. Lisa says

    Good for you Joe Mancaruso, for trying what you needed to do for you wellbeing. A wise man once said to me, you miss 100% of the shots you don’t take (yes it’s a hockey analogy!)
    In good health.

  16. educated nonworrier says

    Takes a pretty weak mind to worry about food.

    Seriously.

    And I have food allergies-thanks to the “progress of medical sciences” – but I don’t obsess over it. And I certainly don’t tell others how to eat….but then I grew up poor without #SNAP (food stamps). And our family ate what we could afford.

    Eat a variety of foods while they’re still available and then you don’t have to worry about things.

    Sheesh.

    3….2….1….and let the immature (hate) responders begin. Prove that I’m so stupid as you believe in your supreme opinion that I am.

    Do I care? Will I ever care?

    Nope.

    Whole foods has one of the worst records for Recall on food, too. So, I’ll just keep shopping at normal regional grocery stores like normal people who have real things (not food additive) to worry about do.

    • Nancy says

      very narrow minded of you! We SHOULD be worried about what’s in our food, because it all involves making money and the focus is not on good quality or healthy food. It is your opinion only and others are entitled to theirs. Don’t shoot it down because you grew up poor and are used to eating that garbage. Such a strong opinion for a very uneducated person…jeez back to you! I will continue to do research and care for my body. What I’ve been doing my whole life has given me cancer and it’s damage done by the garbage in our foods mostly. No thanks to that anymore, I will choose a different path and probably will see a remarkable difference. Good luck to you…you’ll need it!

    • Laurie B says

      If you don’t care, why are you even here commenting? You are lucky that this additive doesn’t make you sick, but it does affect many other people. I can’t have chocolate milk, ice cream, or eggnog any more because they all use this stuff as a thickener. The only reason it’s used is because it’s cheaper than the old thickeners that did not make people sick.

  17. Roger says

    Very sensible article. Looking back, my sports reflux symptoms – chest pain at a certain elevated pace – started not long after I began eating cottage cheese for breakfast everyday and Silk brand soy milk across the day, both of which contain carrageean. It was serious enough I went to the ER at the time, only to be reassured via treadmill testing that it wasn’t heart related (well, hopefully). I say “looking back” because five years later I went without both by chance for a couple of weeks, during which I was very aerobically active, sometimes more than once a day. It then struck me that carragean, a common ingredient, might be the culprit. And sure enough, I was symptomless for thenext year-plus while laying off cottage cheese and Silk soy milk.

    Eventually, I started using Westsoy’s carrageean-less brands, tho I don’t recall exactly when that started. Sometime in the first half of the second year the symptoms started gradually coming back, and over the course of the past three years have gotten worse, even on protoxin, to the point where I’m currently during pH and motility studies to see how the esophagus is working during exercise. One thing that struck me was whether or not Westsoy brands are being cross-contaminated; it’s not mentioned on the label, and I’m waiting for an answer from them. Of course, this could be something else entirely, such as some form of microvascular angina, a possibility tossed out by a GI specialist who may or may not know something (my symptoms don’t really fit the textbook on either). TBD…

  18. Shar says

    I am so glad I found this article and am more informed about this additive. I will be removing as much as possible from my diet. I think I will try to make my own nut milk or possibly try the hemp milk.

  19. Joe Mancaruso says

    What do you do when your doctor tells you that you have stage 4 terminal cancer?..you have no options except for palliative care or Hospice…a number of months to live…it will cost you thousands of dollars…but it won’t cure the cancer…weekly scans, doctors visits, poked with needles, not to mention the side effects, possibly an earlier death from the chemo and the time lost doing all these things…I decided to spend my money on Brazilian Jiu Jitsu training at Bastos BJJ, a trip to Hawaii, San Francisco, and quality time with my wife, kids, including seeing my daughter married…I am convinced I would not be here today if I would have continued with chemo.

    In May 2013 I was given 9-12 months if I followed the protocal for stage 4 nsclc (non-smoker). I only did one of the recommended drugs (Alimta $10,000 a dose every 4 weeks), one night I had a seizure, I had chemo cough, had to limit my exposure to people because my immune system was compromised. After 3 rounds of Alimta i decided no more chemo. So tried several diets ending up following the ketogenic diet, supplements, exercise, sunshine and heat therapy.

    This will not be the right choice for everyone but for me at 56 years old it allows me to train Brazilian Jiu Jitsu 4-5 times a week, kettlebell training and travel.

    When I asked the doctors at MD Anderson about diet, they had no recommendations. I asked then about the links between cancer and simple carbs and cancer they said that it was inconclusive. I could eat sugar and other simple carbs.

    The more I researched, I felt there may be a connection. I eliminated sugar, pasta, rice, white flour, whole grains, potatoes and high glycemic fruits and vegetables from my diet. Since February 1, 2014 I have been tracking my food intake on a Keto Diet App.
    % of calories
    78% fat
    17% protein
    5% carbs

    Averaging 25.2 carbs a day
    Coming from berries, spinach, cabbage, garlic, tomatoes, cucumbers, lemons, somes nuts. I am at 9.5% bodyfat.

    Cancer
    In 2013
    Bronchoscopy
    needle biopsy
    collapsed lung
    port installed
    3 rounds of chemo
    port removed
    lung cancer stage 4 andenocarinoma nsclc

    1985
    surgery testicular cancer
    1986
    lymph node disection
    8 rounds of chemo
    2014
    https://m.facebook.com/story.php?story_fbid=10203695878296928&id=1216636695
    2014
    https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?v=10152389245921100
    May 2014
    http://youtu.be/jsRIsDMOFqM
    May 2014
    http://youtu.be/NXxtPWXucrc
    Blog
    http://www.facebook.com/evencancerisbetterwithbacon

    • Nancy says

      It’s very refreshing to hear you taking charge of your life and I’m so sorry to hear of your cancer. I too was diagnosed with cancer this past May of 2014, it’s not terminal like yours, but it’s not curable either. I face a lot of testing, surgery and chemo and have only been given 5-15 years to live. That doesn’t sit well with me as I have 2 small boys and I am the only parent involved. I’m so glad to hear of your eagerness to keep fit and healthy, I am trying to do the same but it’s hard for me due to the hectic schedule of being a single parent. Your story is very inspirational and I’m just curious to find out how you are doing now and what is your prognosis at this point. I will pray for a miracle for you and just know you made the right choice. Good for you and good luck! I would love to hear how you are doing so if you can respond, that would be great motivation for me and incentive to push harder. God bless you!

  20. kelvin says

    Thanks for the article. I was wondering how much of these carragenan substance should I consume daily, and this article have showed wisdom toward that.
    I know better now. Again, thanks

  21. Roy Firus says

    Hello!
    It has been proven that:
    -many individuals DO have the ability to break down undegraded carrageenan into the dangerous form of degraded .
    – many foods processing methods cause the undegraded to break down into the degraded form.
    -all cancer researchers used by the WHO ( World Health Organization) consider ALL methods of testing valid in order to detect cancer.
    We must ALWAYS remember the 2 golden rules:

    1.Just because a food additive has been shown to be safe in animal studies does NOT mean that it is automatically. safe for humans.
    Thalidomide was tested in over 6 species inc. multi- generational with primates ( 98 % the same DNA) and produced no harmful effects. Yet the majority of mothers who took it during her first trimester of pregnancy had a deformed child.
    2.Food additives are NEVER tested together yet they are often found together in the same product or different products with different food additives are eaten together at the same meal.
    The safest method is to avoid ALL food additives as much as possible as safe natural foods virtually always exist as an alternative. For example as a safe sub. for carrageenan -egg yolks in ice-cream and puddings etc,.finely milled rice powder and tapioca powder etc, and gelatine in other products.
    Avoid Carrageenan!

  22. James says

    Why does Almond Breeze® contain Carrageenan?

    We understand that there is an enormous amount of negativity on the Internet pertaining to an ingredient called ‘carrageenan’. We would like to take this opportunity to provide you with some information that may help to clear up any misconceptions about the use of this ingredient as a food additive and about the Blue Diamond brand.



    As you may know, carrageenan is a food additive naturally extracted from seaweed and is approved for use in foods by the US FDA (Food & Drug Administration) as an emulsifier, thickener or stabilizer.

    

In June 2012, the FDA confirmed the approval and safety of the use of carrageenan as a food ingredient for human consumption. The FDA has previously considered the inflammatory and ulcerogenic effects of certain forms of carrageenan in animals, and has found that studies demonstrating such effects do not support a reversal of regulatory and ulcerative effects in humans.

    

The FDA also concluded that available research does not demonstrate that ‘food grade’ carrageenan induces tumor formation. Finally, while some studies and organizations have concluded that the ‘degraded’ form of carrageenan can be carcinogenic, Blue Diamond Almond Breeze Almondmilks and Coconutmilk Blends do not contain this form of carrageenan. Blue Diamond uses only the highest quality of ‘food grade’ carrageenan in its Almond Breeze product line.



    Blue Diamond’s use of carrageenan in its Almond Breeze Almondmilks and Coconutmilk blends as a stabilizer complies with the FDA’s proscribed use and labeling requirements. Blue Diamond Almond Breeze Almondmilk and Coconutmilk blends clearly identify carrageenan as one of the ingredients on the product label for all consumers to read and evaluate before purchasing or ingesting.

    

In summary, there are no inherent safety issues with this product line and we encourage consumer to read and evaluate product labels on any Blue Diamond product to determine it appropriateness for their specific dietary and health considerations and needs.

    • Laurie B says

      FDA approved doesn’t mean safe or side-effect-free. Blue Diamond obviously does not care about customers who suffer ill effects from this additive. As long as their products contain this additive, I won’t be a customer, and neither will many other people, simply because we *can’t* ingest this stuff without getting sick.

      • Lisa says

        The FDA also approves the following:
        Dimethylpolysiloxane – silicone breast implant filler, polish and cosmetics and oh yeah chicken nuggets as an antifoaming agent, that should sound familiar to those reading labels of processed foods.
        Titanium Dioxide – used in paints, it also helps to make processed food, such as salad dressing and icing, look whiter for longer.
        more: Coal Tar and Oil for food colouring – how many things have colouring added to them – not just your colourful cereals, yogurts, soups, and breakfast bars, but even your supermarket butter. How about antifreeze: Propylene glycol is used to as lubrication for sodas and dressings, beer and condoms.

        All these things and more are okay according to the FDA so we can trust them right?

        If you went to a natural whole foods store, you would find substitutions for all these things including condoms. You can make your own beer at home, just like kombucha, yogurt and a number of other things.

        Also, our ancestors didn’t eat those store made things. Why are we so arrogant and so busy in our lives that we have to have the easy package crap? What is a commitment to our families? Isn’t it our obligation to give our children the best? Isn’t it real health? Or are we so weak? We are so busy that we must not reschedule watching Housewives and just order in a pizza? And just give in to “but that’s what Jimmy had in his lunch today!” or “but I WAAAAAAAAN it!”

        Or how about ourselves: are we so privileged, more so than our ancestors that we MUST have the easy way to health?

        If we don’t take the time to really invest in our health with education, and elbow grease in the kitchen, and sacrificing watching the game, or another stupid sitcom or reality show, than yes we will pay for our choice to have the easy way out with our own health and longevity. personally we want to be healthy and active enough to enjoy our grandchildren.

        • Nancy says

          So true! We’ve gotten used to the convenient way of life. Unfortunately, we have to make these changes ourselves and be our own doctors. It’s so disappointing to see all the crap they put in our food to make it taste and look good and it’s all about mass production to make a fortune off of us. Cave men ate what grew naturally and they didn’t get sick the way we do today. It’s so disgusting to me to think that this is the what it has come to. If we stop buying it, they will be forced to make a change. We have got to spread the word.

    • ginny says

      Your propaganda post here does not explain how so many of us have finally found relief to our problems by eliminating carrageenan. Recent research provides evidence that so-called “undegraded” carrageenan can and does cause problems for people. Your motivation is your bottom line. Our motivation is our health and safety. We don’t trust you for obvious reasons.

    • Someone's Mom says

      Thank you Blue Diamond for informing us of your company choices. Not sure why you want to do this when other alternatives are available. I will continue to buy products that do not contain carrageenan. Also, I am finding more and more ways to make these products on my own without such additives. The food is usually healthier when I make it so company refusal to support customer wishes is actually making my family healthier.

    • Cubitt Goodliffe says

      The FDA has proven to be a corrupt organization not at all focused on the well being of the public, but rather the pockets of the large food manufacturers! The comments therefore have NO credibility!

  23. says

    I discovered my daughter was having an allergic reaction to carrageenan over 11 years ago (she is now 12). I realized that she would have congestion and other respiratory issues after attending birthday parties! That was when she was having ice cream. I discovered this by reading all the ingredients in items at the parties and found carrageenan to be the common thread. I recalled that some of her test results showed she was allergic to moss and my initial search showed that carrageenan was an Irish moss (?) So now we either make our own ice cream using raw milk and cream or seek out specific ice creams without this ingredient.

    • Nancy says

      What ice creams have you found that don’t contain this ingredient. I love making my own but I am guilty of buying it at the stores. Would love some recommendations! Thank you!

  24. Zoe says

    Carageenan upsets my stomach so much. I was always ill, until I cut out this toxic additive and I feel 100% better!

  25. Jatin Sarvaiya says

    I found a few studies most recently published:

    Food additive carrageenan: Part I: A critical review of carrageenan in vitro studies, potential pitfalls, and implications for human health and safety
    CRITICAL REVIEWS IN TOXICOLOGY; MAR, 2014, 44 3, p211-p243, 33p.

    and

    Food additive carrageenan: Part II: A critical review of carrageenan in vivo safety studies
    CRITICAL REVIEWS IN TOXICOLOGY; MAR, 2014, 44 3, p244-p269, 26p.

  26. Thomas says

    My brother has 3 children who were all lactose intolerant so he fed them goats milk and they had no problems.Its worth a try and natural unlike all the substitutes you list.

  27. Kathrine says

    My young daughter has severe gastro reactions to carageenan. Before I realized she had a problem with it, I was giving her almond milk daily that contained carageenan. She had stomachaches, sour stomach, diarrhea & occasional vomiting. It took months of worrying & wondering what was wrong with her. I then happened to stop buying almond milk (or any non-dairy milks) for a short time and she immediately improved, having no gastro upset at all anymore. Then one time a few months later, her grandma gave her almond milk w/ carageenan. My daughter then had 7 or 8 days worth of diarrhea, sour stomach, and vomiting. Carageenan is scary stuff!

  28. Nissa says

    Does anyone knonw of a carageenan free evaporated milk? I use evaporated milk for tea and Carnation contains carageenan.

  29. Anita says

    Sprouts house brand of almond milk does not contain carrageenan. However, there are plenty of other additives. The ingredients are: Almondmilk (filtered water, almonds), tricalcium phosphate, natural flavors, sea salt, gellan gum, dipotassium phosphate, xanthan gum, sunflower lecithin, vitamin A palmitate, vitamin D2, DL-alpha-tocopherol acetate (vitamin E). The sweetened version contains evaporated cane juice. I’ve only been checking for carrageenan but wonder whether there’s possible harm from some of the other ingredients.

  30. Tina Baumbach says

    After spending much time doing the research on carrageenan that is presently provided, and seeing everyone’s reaction to that information, I still come to the came conclusion. Our scientific based data has been flawed for years. They are taking the natural foods and adulterating them to add to our food supplies. I come from an era that this was never a concern because everyone used basic food groups and not combining all and everything to make the palate believe your eating something else. Allergies, immune diseases, cancer, heart issues, and diabetes, have all grown exponentially because someone has told us what to eat and what is good and not good. Why is everyone trusting someone else and not doing your own investigation work. Since the 1970’s when the big people in charge starting to tell us that saturated fats were no good for us, I stopped trusting anything given to the public to change the buying market. The research data is available to anyone curious enough to look. This carrageenan scare is only one of the small health issues staring at our future and the lives of us and our children. I am 66 years old and through the help of God have been shown the truth about many things that are plaguing the present generation. If anyone has a question for most health issues I invite communication.

    • Adamesg says

      Tina, I do agree with you. What do you recommend then, especially to younger people that have just being surround by all the food industry fad? I started using DoTerra essential oils, dietary supplements anad skin cleansing products. Great products, only to find out some of them have PEG and carrageenan. I’m at a point I feel lost and scared with all conflicting information.

      • Tina Baumbach says

        My best advice is to look for information involving food combination. There is a book only in ebook form that tells about the basic foods, it’s called Food Combining: Liz Earle’s quick guides. It is out of print and only in ebook. This explains what I am talking about going back to basics. We didn’t have all of this processed food in boxes and sandwich meats and such mixed with chemical cocktails 40 years ago. Fresh fruits, vegetables, all meat except pork. Avoid bread products and stay low on the sugar. Sugar mostly from fruit is the best. Todays processed foods are made to taste good and addicting. Salt and sugar are refined to cause addiction. Sugar in liquid form (high fructose corn syrup) is the worst poison ever developed. This form has been proven to cause high inflammation in the body which is the precursor for every disease known to many. I have researched this. This in not just my opinion. The issue with carrageenan is only a small one. It can be watched by you and reading labels. If you have a reaction to this eliminate it from your diet. It can be absorbed through the skin but at a much slower rate. The bigger problem is what you put into your stomach. Read, study, research. You are the only one who can do for yourself. Take all in and evaluate because some may not be valid. The information is there and many are willing are willing to share it. If you need some thing else specific contact back.

  31. says

    Amazed at the number of processed products and faux food people indicate they eat on this thread, e.g. Silk Almond Milk, Ensure, especially Soy Milk, etc. All these products are not food, and it seems the majority don’t recognize basic fundamentals viv-a-vis trying to obtain unadulterated, quality foods. The salient theme is – avoid crap (carrageenan) in crap. I suggest avoid the crap that contains the crap. Your thyroid will thank you by eliminating the soy and other anti-nutrients from the crappy junk faux food products practically everyone here seems to drink. Wake up ladies! Further, gelatin (cooked collagen) is comprised of the anti-inflammatory amino acids (35% of the amino acids in gelatin are glycine, 11% alanine, and 21% proline and hydroxyproline – Ray Peat).

    Duh, gelatin doesn’t pass for a vegetable product – it’s the cartilage in an animal. People used to eat the whole animal – most don’t. If you don;t know this is a problem – then you fail to understand one of the value that animals provide for humans nutritionally. Before reacting – realize anti-nutrients exist in plant sources. It’s not wise to go down the road of bashing animals as food or the problems with vegetables. But wiser to realize the problems AND the benefits with foods from each. But fer Chrissakes people – realize the many crap foods discussed on this thread are NOT food at all. You’re drinking processed crap – minus carrageenan.

  32. herbal girl says

    try root for thickeners. great for bone health too. may find in asian stores. these things grow wild so no need tolace with anything

    • herbal girl says

      arrow root is an underground tap much like carrots but white. Grate, squeeze out liquid part. discard sediment.. allow liquid to settle.decant. you find a starchy substance.This can go through several rinsings, use filtered trustworthy water, we must make time for our health.

  33. acw says

    Thanks for the great post and the opportunity to comment. The American palate has been trained to accept solidified and thickened food over many decades and reject those with a thin and watery. Gelatin and carrageenan became the main food additives to satisfy this desired textured product. Carageenan passes for a vegetarian product while gelatin does not. Rebellion against food additives such as thickeners will result in the need to change our food preferences. I am sure most of us will adjust and be better off with more pure and genuine foods. Icecream made with high quality heavy cream tastes so much better than additive thickened milk.

  34. wry says

    UPDATE: I’ve had no issues since eliminating all carrageenan from my diet. I would urge anyone with similar problems to write or call their regional FDA contact. Mine told me that “one report probably won’t make a difference,” so let’s make our voices heard…

    • ginny says

      My intestinal problems also disappeared when I stopped consuming carrageenan, but I didn’t know that was the reason at the time! I had been eating four different foods (some daily, some weekly) that contained carrageenan. I was having major intestinal pain, bloating, diarrhea/constipation. I ended up getting two colonoscopies, and two CT scans, had a cancer scare…when it was all over, and I got back to “normal”, my intestinal problems did not return, and I had no idea why! About two months later, I got an email newsletter from Cornucopia.org about carrageenan, and I read up. I noticed that all the symptoms listed were the symptoms I had had. I went to their list of organic foods with carrageenan, and low and behold!!! There were about four foods there that I had been eating regularly while I was sick! And, this is the major point: these foods were no longer a part of my diet, for various circumstantial reasons, and my intestinal problems were gone! I couldn’t believe it. Could this have been the problem all along? My only residual problems at this point was after eating out at restaurants. I finally stopped eating anything with cream or anything that potentially or likely had carrageenan when at restaurants. My lingering problems disappeared.
      You can’t even chalk my experience up to placebo effect, because I only discovered the carrageenan issues AFTER the changes in my diet solved my problems!

  35. Laurie B says

    I don’t care how much the animals are getting, all it takes is the amount in ONE ice cream sandwich too send me to bed with painful stomach cramps. If it can do that, it can’t be too good. I am sensitive to it now, but wasn’t always. I drank Silk vanilla soy milk for 2 years before it started bothering me and I figured out what it was. If I’d known then what I know now I’d have never started drinking it. Avoid it!

    • Mary Clever da Silva says

      Thanks, Laurie. Apparently I don’r have the same reaction as you, but it sounds like scary stuff. I’m going to have to figure out something else lactose free that gives me the nutrition Ensure gives me without the carrageenan. It’s a real problem for me as so much of what I eat isn’t absorbed and just goes into my ileostomy bag.

  36. Mary Clever da Silova says

    Does anyone have any idea as to how much carrageenan is given to the animals when they are doing the testing. I have read about products that were deemed dangerous and later found out the animals tested were actually given the equivalent of more than a swimming pool of product. Since I have ulcerative colitus, am now living with the dreaded “bag” and drinking at least one Ensure a day, I am, of course, very concerned…don’t want to lose any more body parts.

  37. says

    Wow, what a great article. I write about similar issues on my blog and know it takes a lot of time and research to lay out the facts as you have. I just noticed this ingredient in my almond milk, since I recently switched brands. Happy to be connected and look forward to more of your writing!

  38. Noelle says

    Making Almond milk is SO easy.

    1,)Purchase Raw Organic Spanish Almonds (these have not been pasturized)

    2.)Soak 2 cups of almonds in good quality water for 6-8 hrs making sure you have them covered with a good amount of water. (I put mine in a wide mouth mason jar and cover them with what looks like an extra cup of water)

    3.)Put them in a strainer and rinse well.

    4.) Put your strained rinsed almond in the blender with 2 quarts of good quality water and blend until the almonds are broken pretty fine. (at this point the liquid is white and your blender quiets a bit. Aprox. 1-2 min.)

    5.) Pour into a nut milk bag or cheese cloth over a bowl or large jar.

    6.) Let the liquid run through and then squeeze the rest of the liquid out of the pulp.

    That’s it!! You have delicious organic homemade almond milk! Now you can dehydrate your almond pulp for recipes using almond flour or you can eat the pulp with the milk and add other nuts and dried fruit for a cereal. Mmmm!

  39. Jessica says

    I have read that seaweed birds nest also known as Eucheuma Cottonii is farmed for it production of carrageenan . However this seaweed is sold as a health food claiming its richness in plant based collagen. Does anyone know whether consuming the unprocessed seaweed itself has any of the potentials and side effects of carrageenan or poligeenan? Thanks

  40. Dina says

    I was wondering if anyone has tried adding arrowroot flour or tapioca flour to homemade almond or coconut milk in order to thicken it up a bit? If so, does the milk stay mixed or does it separate quickly?

    • pamela says

      Dina, I hadn’t tried that but I tried a recipe once that called for canned coconut milk + egg yolk as a thickener. Can add a pinch of salt, some sweetener too if desired. The guar gum in the Native Forest brand I used made it thicken more and more each day (too much) and between that and wanting to avoid guar gum, I never made it again. Possibly a quick variation on this could be made using Rice Dream and coconut oil, for instance, in place of coconut milk.

  41. Laurie says

    I love chocolate milk, but had to stop drinking it when they added carrageenan and I started getting sick from it. Recently when at the store I started reading the labels of everything in the dairy department. I finally found Silk dark chocolate almond milk, the only chocolate thing I could find (other than the completely artificial Yoohoo chocolate drink) without carrageenan in it. It tastes ok, I can drink it as a substitute for chocolate milk, but it’s not as good. On the plus side, it also doesn’t contain corn syrup, but has real cane sugar in it.

  42. Lauren L. says

    Thank you for writing this article. I started looking into this ingredient because a more natural deodorant I was looking at contained carrageenan. While it’s being applied to skin, its absorption is likely less than when it’s ingested, though obviously it could be absorbed through the skin (I don’t know its properties well enough to say it is or it isn’t). I was hoping you might be able to elaborate on its use in body products. I am inclined to think that this is much less concerning that using deodorants with Aluminum in them, but I’m having difficulty finding information on it being used in this fashion from a reliable source. Skin Deep does list it middle of the road, but also seems to indicate inconclusive evidence. I wonder if that rating is merely based on its effects when used in food and also whether it’s the same formulation as the one that’s used in food (meaning, I read that there’s a degraded and I believe an undegraded form that have different weights and I wonder which form they use in body products). Thanks in advance!

  43. dan traweek says

    Excellent article! I’m currently in limbo on this. I use the free half/half at starbucks (I pay enough for the java!), but now considering bringing my own. I recenty saw them refilling the half/half and got a couple of pics, sure enough–carrageenan. Thanks for the info. Dan

  44. LNW says

    ok…it’s not a nut milk, but Whole Foods has a brand called Rice Dream that does not contain any carrageenan. Tastes good and is an alternative to nut milks if you cannot make them yourself.

  45. Susan says

    Califia is not organic and their ingredient list is misleading since they do use additives as mentioned below. I want truly pure, so make own, fast and easy, in a Vitamix and milk bag using organic raw almonds and purified water 1:3. Good for 3 days, but so delish it’s long gone before then! Make as rich or lean as desired and customize your flavorings, if any. For soy milk, we blind-taste-tested 6 organic unsweetened brands and all felt Silk Organic was superior, had the least additives and no carrageenan.

  46. says

    Some people, like myself, are sensitive to carageenan in foods. I can no longer drink soy milk or chocolate milk that contains it, as when I do I get severe stomach cramps. But trying to avoid it is becoming impossible! It’s in nearly every brand of ice cream, yogurt, soy milk, and anything that isn’t just plain milk. I am getting very limited in what I can consume dairy-wise these days. Can’t we get the industry to start using something else to thicken these products that doesn’t make people sick?

    • Pam says

      I just make my own, of pretty much everything. If you have a vitamix, freeze some coconut or almond milk in ice cube trays then throw some in the blender with some liquid milk, sweetener, and flavoring. Instant non-dairy ice cream. Or, throw a bunch of frozen fruit in with some non-dairy milk and possibly some sweetener and you have fruit ice cream. I buy Whole Foods 365 almond milk and Silk unsweetened. Neither has added sugar (my daughter is allergic) or carageenan.

    • Debbi M says

      This has been most interesting to read all the threads.

      Why are you trying so hard to eat dairy of Any kind. Read ‘The China Study’, the largest human study ever done to see what all animal products do to raising the cancer rates. Esp.Dairy!
      Cut out dairy. It’s very simple.

      We are being poisoned by the Food Industry for the sake of profit. A sick population Can not think nor defend itself. Your children are being born sick due to the toxic environment of mom’s womb. And while breast milk contains years of mom’s accumulated toxins, there is Nothing else better. Human babies drink human milk, period.

      Soy…….cut out soy everything. No milk, nuts, thickeners, etc.
      If you eat whole foods, (Not the store), plant based whole foods…life gets real simple.

      Everyone needs B-12 today. Including meat eaters. CAll Eco-Wellness.net for prices on Pure Encapsulations B-12 5000 liquid. Best price I’ve found. Too low to publish.

      Grow Your own sprouts. Put a fan blowing on them to eliminate any webbing, eat All the life force you’ll ever need. It’s a lie you get needed calcium from dairy. More from veggies in a form your body recognizes.

      Quit trying to short cut your health with processed, packaged foods. THINK. You are an energetic body. You need Life-force to live. You are eating dead animals, dead plants/grains, never-alive chemicals looking for Life Force. It isn’t going to happen.

      Make time to Live. Slow down. Feed your family like pre1950’s. It’s inconvenient, expensive, takes time and REALLY, REALLY good for you.

      Get pots and grow your lettuces. Easy and fun. Teach your children too.

      No more whining. It is time for a new day. We all bought the lie. We are paying for it. Our little ones are Really paying for it.

      Success will be ours IF we are willing to make changes. Cut out coffee (it is a drug) =-no need for cream.
      Freeze bananas/peaches/fresh fruits and run through an Omega/Champion, etc….amazing ‘ice cream’ with no crap.

      Make a smoothie in the morning.

      Eat fruit for snacks.

      Get a dehydrator (Harvest Essentials.com) and Really Open Up Your World.

      Enjoy your life.

      • totalfreedom13 says

        Debbi M,

        Very cool! Let’s keep life simple to have perfect health. JJ Virgin (http://jjvirgin.com/) is right on target; if we eliminate these seven food groups we’ll lose pounds, up our energy, get lots of great sex, and live longer: soy, peanuts, sugar (except in organic fruits), corn, eggs, dairy (including dairy from animals other than cows), and gluten (everything having wheat, barley, and rye).

        We should strive to buy USDA Certified Organic, non-GMO, and Fair Trade Certified products as much as possible.

        Too pricey? Better to pay the grocer now than to pay the doctor later. : )

    • Kat says

      Seaweed and algae are good for you. The theory is that it’s the isolated form of carrageenan that can cause problems in some people. Separating the compound from the natural food source can make it harder to assimilate by the body since the other ingredients that occur naturally are no longer present.

  47. pm says

    According to study posted by the Cornucopia Institute, degraded carrageenan, poligeenan, has been found to contaminate food grade carrageenan in 12 different food samples.

    “Researchers concerned with the effects of carrageenan in the diet have also used undegraded, food-grade carrageenan to investigate potentially harmful effects. When the carrageenan manufacturers’ trade group tested 12 samples of food-grade carrageenan, it found every sample was considered contaminated with degraded carrageenan (classified as a “possible human carcinogen”) by at least one of the testing laboratories.” http://www.cornucopia.org/2014/01/carrageenan-natural/

    So seeing carrageenan on the label is no guarantee that it is the safe food grade form. We need stricter standards that verify labeling claims.

  48. cjb32 says

    i have recently did away with Diet Rock Stars and Diet Mt Dew. i would make a almond ice coffee mixed in a protein shake. now i found out the almond milk is bad. what is another alternative? i leave for work at 2am and dont have the time for a long process

  49. ChefMomB says

    There have been more studies that show degradation does indeed happen in the GI tract. I know for sure that my body degrades carrageenan to poligeenan during digestion. I react to it as if it’s a carcinogen. It’s found in deli meat, toothpaste, and even fresh chicken! I have trouble finding a dairy-, nut-, and soy-free milk alternative that doesn’t have carrageenan. I myself drink Silk Almond Milk, but my sons can’t have tree nuts.

    • Phil says

      In Canada, Montreal-Quebec, you can find “Natur-a brandFortified Soy Beverage”. They recently excluded the algae extract. I use the “Unsweeted”, as it is Xanthan gum free as well.
      search Natur-a
      you’re welcome!

      • Mary says

        Joanne, this was earlier in this thread:
        Laura
        NOVEMBER 15, 2013 AT 9:32 AM

        I’m sorry, but that’s not true: http://www.califiafarms.com/products/unsweetened/

        I only know this because I occasionally buy that brand. It tastes great but it’s definitely not additive free…

        Contains Less Than 2% Of The Following: Vitamin/ Mineral Blend (Calcium Carbonate, Vitamin A, Vitamin E, Vitamin D2, Vitamin B12, Vitamin B2, Zinc), Gellan Gum, Carrageenan, Potassium Citrate, Sunflower Lecithin, Natural Flavors, Sea Salt.

    • Kat says

      Read the whole label. Califia brand contains carrageenan in its “less than 2%” list. I doubt a bit of carrageenan will harm most people, but if you have a sensitivity or are relying on almond milk as a significant component of your diet, you might want to just make it at home.

  50. Mary Clever da Silva says

    Yikes! This is scaring me. I’ve already had my large intestine removed due to Crohnes Disease which means I have to wear an ileostomy bag. I have a difficult time absorbing foods and thought I was helping myself by drinking “Ensure” every day (I am lactose intolerant). Now I find out it has Carrageenan in it. Also can’t absorb supplement capsules (go right into the bag), so have been using the gel kind, which also has Carrageenan. Now I’m worried I’ll lose my small intestine or my stomache. I wake up every day in extreme pain. If it’s the additive that’s causing it, I just don’t know what I’ll do!

    • patti says

      Wow…25 years ago, I had my colon removed; u.c. for 10 years. I am trying to help my daughter figure out what to give her 10 month old after formula. Both of them are lactose intolerant. I hate soy…all this stuff scares me too. We tried goat’s milk too gamey of a taste.

      • Pam says

        Almond milk does not have enough protein, fat, or nutrition for a baby. If your grandchild is just 10 months old she should be getting breastmilk at least until she’s two years old. If your daughter isn’t able to lactate she can try and get donated breastmilk. I donated via milkshare.com and then when I adopted that’s where I got enough donor milk to supplement what I was able to make. Your daughter could also see a lactation consultant about increasing her production. In a child with this genetic history it is imperative it receive human milk and not milk from a different species or even a plant.

  51. Etai says

    Thanks for a well organized article. The part that gets me is when you state that “undegraded carrageenan has only ever been shown to accelerate cancer formation when administered with a known carcinogen.” You’d think that with the increase in cancer rates this would be of concern to regulators and producers of the food industry. If anything, for anyone interested in a preventive lifestyle reducing or eliminating carrageenan would be a good idea, no?

  52. says

    I just discovered that Lily of the Desert aloe vera gel has carrageenan in it. Total bummer. At least the aloe vera juice doesn’t contain it.

    • Brenda says

      if you are looking for a paraben free cosmetic , look at. Afterglow cosmetics. We sell their product in our salon or you can order them online.

  53. Henry Wells says

    I have a question about the purity of carrageenan. Some years ago a company went out of business over the discovery of animal gelatin in its “carrageenan” product. Apparently the company was not informed by its SUPPLIER of carrageenan that approximately 6.5% of its “carrageenan” was animal gelatin. Is it fair to ask a supplier of soy milk, for example, it it can CERTIFY that its carrageenan is ZERO-animal gelatin, in view of the disease-carrying properties of animal foods?

  54. Pam says

    “Experimental evidence on the effects of carrageenan in humans is extremely limited, for obvious ethical reasons. However, a few in vitro experiments have been conducted on isolated human intestinal cells.”

    Does this mean it’s unethical to research this substance on people but it’s okay to feed it to them?

    • Stephanie says

      Isolated intestinal cells are grown in a Petri dish in a lab. So no, humans are not subjected to the treatment, just the human cells growing in the Petri dish.

    • Kat says

      And on that same note, how is it ethical to use animals for these studies when the results of the studies are for human benefit?

      I’m not a vegan or anything, and will eat meat from animals that have lived a good life, not penned up in tiny cages – but seriously, we are one twisted species if we think somehow it’s ok to subject animals to carginogens just so that we might benefit from a creamier/thicker product.

      Why not just make the stuff at home with basic ingredients or avoid foods that contain weird additives in the first place?

    • kiekie says

      Wow I just read the in vitro study…and you are so spot on! Its un ethical to run a human study but it’s ok to just go ahead and feed it to the masses….

  55. Amy says

    Non-organic almonds use a ton of pesticides so those of you who are consuming commercial made almond milk regularly, beware. It’s impossible to find a product that is organic and contains no carrageenan or any of the vitamin additives or sugar. I am either making my own or purchasing a local brand found only in my local stores. It is very expensive!

    • jl says

      If you have a Wegmans supermarket nearby, I just found out that their organic almond milks do not have any carrageenan. They do carry the unsweetened flavor in addition to their sweetened original (7g sugar) and vanilla flavors.

        • jl says

          Yes, the Wegman’s almond milk is organic. Also, the other day I saw ShopRite carrying the same organic almond milk without carrageenan. Packaging and ingredients look almost identical, but was $0.50 cheaper at Wegman’s. Guess they use the same third party manufacturer.

  56. Jess says

    It’s also worth pointing out for those who consume some diary, that many brands of heavy cream contain carrageenan, including Organic Valley’s pasture-raised cream.

    • Sue says

      Darn! Guess I forgot to read the label as I was so thrilled to see the pasture-raised on the carton. Luckily, I only use it when my favorite store runs out of my local dairy’s heavy cream, which has no carrageenan. Have to find a new back-up cream. Thank you for your post :)

    • Leaf Eating Carnivore says

      Organic Vally’s ULTRApasturised cream does contain carrageenen – the simply pasturised version does not – unless they are lying through their collective toothies on the carton I’m looking at right now.

  57. Jen H says

    Thanks for all the info. One thing I wanted to point out is that carageenan is very common in canned pet foods. Canned foods (especially for carnivorous cats) are now thought to be better than highly processed dry foods for pets because of the higher content of animal protein and fat and because of the moisture content, but then many of these canned food contain carageenan which is a concern if the animal is eating it everyday. The ultimate diet for pets would be some sort of balanced, home-prepared, species-appropriate diet – either raw or slightly cooked – using non-factory farmed animals. But of course we can’t all do that all the time. So be aware of this ingredient in canned pet foods. There are increasing numbers of GI disorders in cats (and probably dogs too) these days. Could be related to GMOs, but eating carageenan everyday is also a concern.

  58. Jennifer L. says

    We make our own hemp milk from 1/2 cup organic hemp seeds, 2-3 cups water and a pinch of salt. I find it easier than some nut milks since it doesn’t need to be soaked.

  59. Wenchypoo says

    I’m sitting here staring at the back of a can of Aroy-D coconut milk (smooth-sided can), and it says the ingredients are coconut extract and water. The smooth-sided cans are also the ones that harden completely (or very nearly so) when refrigerated overnight.

    The ridged cans of this coconut milk do not harden, but the ingredients listed are the same. Maybe the ridges have something to do with the milk staying more fluid? I have no idea–I just hate it when I need whipped cream or frosting material, and end up with a refrigerated can of soggy milk!

    As far as carageenan goes, the organic industry (before Big Food bought into it) was all up in arms about Big Food buying in and immediately wanting to get ingredients like carageenan certified as organic, so they could pretty much sell the same foods as before, only with a new “organic” label. I remember Horizon Farms threw the biggest fit, and to this day, has not sold out to Big Food.

    At last count, there were only 5 honest-to-goodness organic farms/food companies left out there. All the rest are subsidiaries of some big food corp. or other. You had to know things would end up downhill when Ben & Jerry’s sold out to Unilever so long ago–that started the ball rolling.

    • says

      Dear Wencheypoo – the harsh realities of “Big Food” had reached Horizon many years ago when they were purchased by Dean Foods , the largest dairy company in the world!

  60. Greg says

    We went the route of just using the highest quality natural milk available: Raw A2 pastured goat. I have milk intolerance with pasteurized milk, but I have zero problems with raw goat (I’m drinking a glass as I write this). Not for everyone, but for us it’s a fantastic super-food that avoids the problems of carrageenan and fluoride in nut ‘milk’. Plus it tastes amazing!

  61. says

    I used to buy Silk brand of almond milk until I found out that non-organic almonds contain many toxic pesticides and herbicides that are injected directly to almond trees. I also didn’t like the fact that synthetic vitamins were added to commercial nondairy milk products. So now I make my own almond milk from organic almonds. I have learned that making almond milk takes less than 5 minutes and is so easy!

    • loulou says

      Oh my gosh. I eat organic everything and just realized that I have been buying almonds that are not organic from WF because they are sliced or slivered already. wow. Could you refer me to some of the studies you have read about almond trees being injected? scary. Many Thanks!

  62. Leah says

    Thank you for this information. I have only been following Paleo lifestyle since August. Did switch to drinking Almond milk – and have just checked the label of brand I consume, and yes its got carrageenan. I’m lucky enough to have access to raw cows milk, so think I’m better off sticking with this. Interestingly my 3 kids have all grown up on raw milk and in the scheme of things are very rarely sick compared to other people in our community or network of friends.

  63. Carie says

    This is one of the reasons why I have switched to real food. I now drink raw grass fed milk. I was a vegetarian for 18 years, then I noticed how many scary things are in vegetarian renditions of real foods. Scared me right into eating real food and nothing but….when I can help it. At restaurants you can rest assured you are not eating additive free “food”.

    This is how I ended up following Weston A. Price and Paleo, in my own personalized way.

    • Edith says

      Hi Carie, we’ve followed similar paths. I was ‘soyatarian’ ( dairy free vegetarian for even longer than you ). I realise now that all those canned and packaged nut / seed / soy milks are highly processed foods. They certainly weren’t consumed by Paleolithic humans. I don’t have to worry about what additives may be in my raw milk. (The dairy-free diet was disastrous for my bones. I suggest that anyone who has followed such diets for long get a DEXA scan. You may save yourself from the spontaneous fractures that I suffered. I’ve turned the bone loss around with the raw dairy).

  64. Antoinette says

    Is this carrageenan the same as carraigin (irish)? I am from Galway, west of Ireland. We harvest and eat this seaweed for health benefits. Usually late summer when the tide is out. We gather it from the rocks (carraig) and dry it in the sun. We add it to milk and make a jelly dessert out of it or warm milk drink. It is used to prevent the cold, flu. I never have known anyone who takes it at home to complain about stomach issues as it is generally taken to prevent illness!

    • pamela says

      Antoinette, natural “red marine algae” is supposed to have anti-viral properties, but carrageenan in a processed “isolate” form is the kind that has dangerous properties for some of us and is of questionable safety perhaps for others.

  65. Neal says

    I like Aroy-D as a brand for coconut milk. No additives or preservatives listed on the ingredients label, just coconut and water. An internet search for hidden ingredients did not turn up anything.

  66. Jen L. says

    Try Aroy-D brand coconut milk. I buy it from amazon and it is 100% pure and comes in a BPA free package. It is delicious!

    • pam says

      i also like Aroy-D. i get it @ a local asian market. (also cheaper) most Thai brands do not have other stuff (emulsifier? thickeners?) so one has to shake it well.

      don’t know why American brands add so much other stuff to coconut milk.
      maybe the makers think Americans are too lazy to “shake” it. XD

    • totalfreedom13 says

      Jen L, Aroy-D Coconut Milk costs $6.99 for 13.5 oz on amazon.com, which totals $66 a gallon. Too pricey! : D

      • says

        Yes, Aroy-D is pricey, but I have been able to adjust my food budget to buy this product because I feel it is so worth it. We use it in our coffee/tea, in recipes, smoothies, over berries and occasionally with cereal. We do not typically drink it by the glass. According to my calculations, it costs about $30 per gallon, which is quite pricey, but less than half of what you suggested. It has a long shelf life and arrives at my doorstep within 24 hours and with free shipping.

        • totalfreedom13 says

          Jen,

          1 If you do the math $6.99 for 13.5 oz
          adds up to $66 a gallon on amazon.com, which is where you buy it from.

          2 It doesn’t have the USDA Organic seal.

          3 It doesn’t have the Non-GMO Project Verified seal.

          4. It doesn’t have the Fair Trade Certified seal.

  67. kate says

    Can you give opinion on how carageenan in a daily supplement (the capsule) might rank in comparison to daily food intake via milk sub? Would the intake be considerably small, if just used to create the gelcap….or would it be concern because it’s not with food, and it’s daily. My “gut” is to avoid it in supplements, but trying to tease out the grey-zone of if it’s just a little concern or a big one. THANK YOU!

  68. Karen says

    Great article. It took me a long time to figure out that the carageenan was causing me severe gastro distress. Some weeks I would feel great; other weeks, very sick. I read an article about carageenan and realized that Blue Diamond almond milk has it and Silk almond milk does not. Once I committed to Silk, I’ve felt great.

    Carageenan can be in so many products. I bought a rotisserie chicken from Costco and discovered once I got home (and put my reading glasses on) that it was one of the listed ingredients. Now, I read every label very carefully.

  69. andrew says

    Whole Foods Private Label Brand (365) Organic Almond milk does not have Carageenan. It has a few other items.

    Organic almondmilk (filtered water, organic almonds), tricalcium phosphate, sea salt, xanthan gum, potassium citrate, sunflower lecithin, vitamin a palmitate, ergocalciferol (vitamin d2), dl-alpha tocopherol acetate (vitamin e).

  70. says

    Chris,
    Thanks for a fine article. My understanding used to be that carrageenan comes from Irish Moss, which is one of my favorite Paleo thickeners. What is the relationship between carrageenan and Irish Moss??
    thanks again! Jane Barthelemy from janeshealthykitchen.com.

    • Antoinette says

      Carraig is the Irish word for rock. Carraigin is another irish word meaning small rock. Usually you find this seaweed growing on the small rocks along the west coast of Ireland. We gather it and harvest it late summer when the tide is out. We dry it in the sun and add it to milk mostly to make a jelly like dessert. Carraigin is an Irish Seaweed, red in color. I think Carrageenan might be related.

    • says

      I think Irish moss is what Chris is referring to when he says that “carrageenan-containing seaweeds have been used for centuries in food preparations for their gelling properties.” From what I understand, carrageenan used to be derived solely from Irish moss, but is now extracted from many different types of seaweed.

      I think this is probably one of those circumstances where the whole food is harmless or even beneficial, but the isolated, processed extract (carrageenan) can be harmful.

  71. Allen says

    We’ve found that Carageenan causes our daughter’s to flare up (Dyes definitely cause). She drank Silk with no Carageenan and the rash was mostly clear. Then they got worse than ever before…very frustrating and finally figured out that the only change was from Silk to Almond Breeze. Removed her from it and the intensity cleared up.

    I’m convinced Carageenan is very inflammatory because the flare up occurs if she gets into certain ice creams or frozen yogurt containing Carageenan. Stuff is as bad as food dyes.

  72. says

    I know that consuming carageenan causes me great amounts of intestinal distress at this pint. I had eliminated it during a Whole30, and upon reintroduction, it was very, very bad for me. So I no longer consume it whenever possible.

  73. Terry says

    Most brands of heavy whipping cream also contain carrageenan, even most of the brands labeled “organic”. Among those organic heavy cream brands that DO NOT have it on their labels are Clover, Trader Joe’s, and Straus.

    • Leaf Eating Carnivore says

      Organic Valley has a version of it’s heavy cream that is free of any thickeners. It is pasturised, not ultrapasturised, so it’s shelf life is shorter (take it home on ice in a cooler), but both the taste and the mouthfeel are infinitely better than the tarted-up stuff.

      You might have to befriend your grocer and keep asking to get it.

    • Joan says

      I just discovered that the Pasteurized heavy cream from Trader Joe’s in the plastic container DOES have carageenan! I don’t know if the one in the carton has it or not, but it is ultra-pasteurized and from what I have read, Ultra-pasteurized dairy products contain free glutamates. I am very disappointed and am sending a comment to Trader Joe’s about this.

  74. wry says

    I personally became ill from consuming plant-based milks (almond, hemp, coconut, etc.) with carrageenan. It took several months to make the connection to it and my recurring gastroenteritis. Now even a small dose can cause an upset. I have made my own milks, but I find the pre-packaged kinds more convenient. My daughter has allergies and it’s hard to find milk that meets our needs: dairy/soy/nut-free, organic, unsweetened, and carrageenan-free. Right now we’re trying quinoa milk.

    • Lindsey says

      I have tried oat, hemp, and homemade pumpkin seed milk and they are all good dairy/soy/nut-free alternatives.

    • Linda Scherf says

      Try Organic grass fed raw cows milk. My husband has had an allergy to all nuts, peanuts being the worst, since he was a teen. He would get sores on his head that would hurt for days, nothing life threatening though. Three months after we started drinking raw organic grass fed cows milk, he noticed that he wasn’t getting any sores after eating something made in the same facility where peanuts are used. Even that would bother him. We’ve been drinking it for almost a year now. I also cream the cream and make my own butter. I also read that people that are lactose intolerant can drink raw milk with no problems.

      • says

        Yes, there is a theory that modern processing milks damages the milk in several ways. One, pasteurization kills the natural lactase that exists that assists with lactose processing. Also, that through homogenization, essential fat molecules are broken down in such a way that the body no longer uses them properly. However, if you do go with raw milk, be sure the facility is regularly tested, or you could be exposing yourself to dangerous bacteria.

        It seems possible that the whole fats he is now drinking in the raw milk, along with several probably unpasteurized enzymes, may be assisting in his body’s ability to deal with the nut proteins, or providing some sort of protective action. Yay!

  75. Sue says

    For us dairy consumers, be on notice that many ice creams and gelatos contain carrageenan. My father was in the commercial dairy business and he hated it when carrageenan was added to ice cream. I don’t eat anything with this additive.

    • ginny says

      Ice cream, heavy/whipping cream, buttermilk, chocolate milk. many low-fat yogurts, even some fruit juices. Kalona Supernatural dairy is all carrageenan free. Three Twins ice cream and Alden’s ice cream are organic and carrageenan free.

  76. Deb Roby says

    Califa brand almond milk contains no additives. The unsweetened plain variety contains only almonds and filtered water.

    • says

      I’m sorry, but that’s not true: http://www.califiafarms.com/products/unsweetened/

      I only know this because I occasionally buy that brand. It tastes great but it’s definitely not additive free…

      Contains Less Than 2% Of The Following: Vitamin/ Mineral Blend (Calcium Carbonate, Vitamin A, Vitamin E, Vitamin D2, Vitamin B12, Vitamin B2, Zinc), Gellan Gum, Carrageenan, Potassium Citrate, Sunflower Lecithin, Natural Flavors, Sea Salt.

      • says

        Yes! They separate the top lines from the bottom lines, so you stop reading and don’t notice the other additives.

        For me, I think the synthetic folic acid and vitamin D2 in all these nut milks is more concerning than the carrageenan. Very few nut milks are not fortified, and those that are have carrageenan.

      • van casey says

        EXACTLY! AND NOTE that they have separated the paragraph “Contains less than… ” by a blank area just below the main ingredients list, so most people QUIT READING before they get to it! That strikes me as being a bit sleazy…

    • Lindsey says

      I thought the same thing, but the ingredient label looks like this:

      Ingredients: Almondmilk (Filtered Water, Almonds)

      Contain Less Than 2% of the Following: Calcium Carbonate, Gellan Gum, Carrageenan, Potassium Citrate, Natural Flavors, Sea Salt

      That space between the two is what got me also. I bought it and when I got home my mom read the ingredients and pointed out that there is carrageenan in it.

  77. JC says

    I have replaced carageenan-containing lunchmeat by Applegate with carageenan-free Organic Prairie lunchmeat. Seeing as very few people test well on an SIgA test, indicating widespread incidence of compromised gut, it seemed like a good way to go for the times when my family needs to grab something quick to eat.

    • ginny says

      For those that have Kroger/Payless grocery stores, their “Simple truth” brand of deli meats are carrageenan free, and are labeled so prominently on the package.

    • says

      Wholefoods brand Almond milk Unsweetened also is carrageenan free. I usually drink the Silk Unsweetened Almond milk when I buy my almond milk. It does contain Locust Bean Gum, Sunflower Lecithin and Gellan Gum. I know these can be troublesome for people with digestive issues but I’d be curious to learn more about these ingredients as well.

      • Ann says

        Meghanne – you may want to double check that. I occasionally buy Whole Foods unsweetened almond milk and it does indeed contain carageenan.

        • Christina says

          The Whole Foods 365 ORGANIC unsweetened almondmilk does not contain carageenan. I just purchased a container this weekend and double-checked the ingredients. Perhaps the regular one does, but the organic variety does not and it’s really not any more expensive.

          • loulou says

            My organic 365 unsweetened almond milk doesn’t have it. Could we all maybe be talking about shelf variety vs. refrigerated? I get the refrigerated and it does not have carrageenan. I am headed to wf in a bit so I will check the shelf version. BUT, HAS ANYONE noticed that since they took it off the shelf for a bit last summer and then reintroduced it a few months later, it separates strangely in coffee? More like the brands in Europe do. Complete bummer. I emailed them about it and it seemed to get better and then the batch I bought a couple of weeks ago started to separate out again! So something is different b/c my coffee and all other potential variables are unchanged.

          • says

            But I believe some of those other brands that do not contain carageenan contain tri-calcium phosphate, and that seems to be a problem for me…. Same thing for the almond milks without added sugar; they either contain rice milk (which doesn’t work for me)

          • says

            I think what makes me the most angry is that we are trusting these companies. It ca n be the same company with different ingredients. SO Coconut Milk doesn’t have the carageenan in it. I believe we need to make sure it is USDA Organic, non GMO.
            Also I was terribly upset today after purchasing Horizon, Organic whipping cream and finding carageenan in it.

        • Kaye Stain says

          That’s funny, I too buy the Whole Foods Organic 365 unsweetened Almond Milk and it does not contain carageenan which is why I buy it along with Silk.

      • Sally Armstrong says

        Trader Joes and Whole Foods sell products without carrageenan in California BUT sell the same “looking and packaged” product in Minnesota – where I live, the DOES have carrageenan. Same carton, same name – different content. Why?

    • Sherry says

      If anyone here is boycotting products that donate money towards the fight to keep GMO foods off the nutrition label or worse, as in this case, contain GMOs, should run from any Silk product. So if anyone is following the site author’s way of life of not eating what might be toxic should not want to consume Silk milk that uses soy because they do use genetically modified soy.

      My family tried many organic milks and decided on Kroger’s Simple Choice Organic Milk. There are a few different types including one soy milk that I would avoid because it might use GM soybeans. They have a nice chocolate almond milk. Now, of course, I need to check the ingredients on Simple Truth milks. I sincerely hope it doesn’t include carrageenan because we don’t want to start a new search for milk products!

    • Fiona Bennett says

      I am allergic to Carageenan and also to MSG. I have been told that it is very common for those people who react to MSG to have a similar reaction to Carageenan. I have not specifically noticed any digestive issues with Carageenan, but I do a wonderful boiled lobsters impersonation!! My skin gets swollen red and itchy particularly in my face!!

    • pamela says

      I can attest to the fact that carrageenan is a dangerous excitotoxin for some of us who are also sensitive to MSG and all forms of free glutamic acid. This would include the protein isolates that are the foundation of all the common protein supplements. I have sustained permanent nervous system injury as a result of ingesting these substances in medical grade supplements as well as accidental ingestion in prepared food, before I became aware of the source of my reactions. One of the supplements I reacted to was in fact composed exclusively of carrageenan and certain essential amino acids, and no other ingredients.

  78. Donna Papacosta says

    Great article. I buy Hemp Bliss, which contains no carrageenan and tastes fine (although I never drink it on its own). It comes in sweetened and flavored varieties, but I buy the plain one.

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