Harmful or Harmless: Carrageenan | Chris Kresser

Harmful or Harmless: Carrageenan

by Chris Kresser

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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!

427 Comments

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  1. I’m curious why Chris Kresser would even want to carry water for the carrageenan producers and food additive industries. We have a product (carrageenan) attached to a smoking gun (colitis, and possibly cancer).

    Why would we continue to use this dubious additive when so many other thickeners are available, with fewer side effects. Food producers could use the same stuff that you put in your gravy – corn starch.

    The gig is up on this ingredient as the responses above with links to products without carrageenan illustrates. No amount of “scientific” obfuscation will fix this product.

    • Sure. It doesn’t state the concentration.

      Incidentally, I came here after finding carageenan listed as an ingredient in a whole raw chicken.

    • They use a lot of carrageenan in lunch meat ! Especially NAE meats !! It is used as a binder in the meats. Reading this worries me because I work with this a lot and it’s very fine gets in the air like baby powder !!

  2. Chris, please consider doing a follow-up article about carrageenan and MSG. The Truth in Labeling website, which is longstanding and reputable, provides extensive research about MSG, aka processed free glutamic acid, an excitotoxin.

    Carrageenan is also a source of MSG/processed free glutamic acid.

    Processed food manufacturers no longer use the term MSG: they now hide the stuff in 40 ingredients which are added to processed foods, including foods labeled as organic. Truth in Labeling has a list of these 40 or so names. Industry keeps adding to this list, so a consumer MUST keep up on research.

    In addition, many of these additives are legally allowed to be added to foods labeled as organic, under the USDA National Organic Program (NOP).

    Some are from GMO source. For example industrial citric acid (legally allowed in foods labeled as organic) is now being sourced from GMO (non-organic) corn – it does NOT come from citrus fruits! It is also a hidden source of MSG/processed free glutamic acid. This same citric acid may be used to wash fruits and vegetables and there is no way we have of knowing that has been done.

    The chemical MSG itself is being made, most often, by using GMO, Round-Up Ready sugar beets (!!!), through an industrial fermentation process.

    Here is the list of ingredients allowed to be added to organic foods by the USDA NOP regs. which also contain (an unknown percentage of) MSG/processed free glutamic acid:

    This list was cross-referenced with available lists of 40+ ingredients containing hidden processed free glutamic acid:

    -citric acid – produced by microbial fermentation of carbohydrate substances
    -carrageenan
    -enzymes
    -flavors
    -gellan gum
    -yeast (may include products like yeast autolysate, brewers yeast, nutritional yeast and so on)
    -acidified sodium chlorite—Secondary direct antimicrobial food treatment and indirect food contact surface sanitizing. Acidified with citric acid only
    -calcium citrate
    -xanthan gum
    -gelatin
    -gums – water extracted only (arabic; guar; locust bean; and carob bean)
    -starches, cornstarch
    -whey protein concentrate

    Please see:
    http://www.truthinlabeling.org/SourcesBrochure.pdf

    MSG list updated as of March, 2014: http://www.truthinlabeling.org/hiddensources.html

    Unblind My Mind: http://unblindmymind.org/wpsystem/wp-content/uploads/2013/04/Various_Ways_Free_Glutamate.pdf

    Battling the MSG Myth: http://www.msgmyth.com/Hidden_Names_for_MSG.pdf

    MSG Truth: http://msgtruth.org/avoid.htm

    Food Intolerance Network (AU, not US, source): http://fedup.com.au/images/stories/129MSGlist.pdf

    USDA National Organic Program (NOP): http://www.ecfr.gov/cgi-bin/text-idx?c=ecfr&SID=9874504b6f1025eb0e6b67cadf9d3b40&rgn=div6&view=text&node=7:3.1.1.9.32.7&idno=7#se7.3.205_1605

    http://www.ecfr.gov/cgi-bin/text-idx?c=ecfr&SID=9874504b6f1025eb0e6b67cadf9d3b40&rgn=div6&view=text&node=7:3.1.1.9.32.7&idno=7#se7.3.205_1606

    Laura

  3. This is very helpful to me I’m not over 18.. but I’m vegan and I am writing that chocolate milk essay… yeah… I’m obviously against it so I’m trying to ban it from my school. I need some help on trying to get it banned any ideas?

  4. Your concern that paleo people who drink plant milks may get too much carageenan made me laugh. It’s main use is in the dairy and meat industry.

      • Carrageenan is in almost anything that involves thickening agents in food. This article states that these experiments are irrelevant to humans, when so many people these days have irritable bowel syndrom, celiac and other digestive diseases. The experiment has already begun- carrageenan, xanthem gum and its other derivatives are not only being leaked into processed foods but also organic foods. This also includes *natural flavors and other modified foods.

    • The article source: International Food Additives Council (IFAC). Always question who funds a study or research. There are so many ways a study can be steered to highlight a desired result.

  5. Thank you to each of you for all your stories and information at 47 I was diagnosed with C.M.L. cancer of the bone morrow and My brother at age 56 was diagnosed with anal cancer he died 4 months later. what we had in common was our food source Milton Cream mother made with every thing every week. do I know if this is what cause our different cancer no but there is no other explanation Pork lard milk based bisquit weekly potatoe soup weekly with wilson or milnot cream. I’m now 58 still on chemo I do read the labels and stay away from Carrdegenns but I know I’m slipping I can no longer spell or think correctly I have been on a chemo target drug 11 years I’m starting to have so many issues I can only pray I get to see my granddaughters though High School. Yes I worked hard all my life in factories to have a better life for my family. I never expected to hear the words you are going to die you don’t have long if this drug doesn’t work for you. so far it has I’m truly blessed to be here this long I miss my brother terribly.My eyes are falling and my mind Take care each one of you watch every crumb you eat grow your own food with no chemicals Thanks for listening.

    • Try to drink organic green leaf smoothies three times a day. There are many websites that are spefically dealing with raw food intake to resolve even the worse cancer conditions. Cancer cells feed on carbohydrate and sugar . If you eliminate those , there is a good possibility that you can reverse the hillness. You must want to beat the beast at any cost and be strong in foñlowing this diet.

      • All cells feed off of carbohydrates, our bodies process everything into glucose that transports through our blood. There’s hypoglycemia (too much glucose) and hyperglycemia (too little), but even if you’re eating lettuce, your body breaks it down to sugar to make it available​ to all cells (cancer or otherwise). I’m not saying don’t eat well, just that your statement is misleading.

    • Those of us who live in apartments and/or in the city cannot grow our own food! Why don’t you think about that before posting such a stupid thing?!

      • Anyone can grow food anywhere. Even if it’s only a few herbs in a pot on a windowsill. You don’t need to have a farm in the country and acres of land to grow a few tomatoes or peppers. Anything is better than nothing.

  6. From my years of personal experience, I can say without a doubt… carrageenan is definitely harmful to humans!!
    Forty years ago, I was diagnosed with Crohn’s disease. When I was 29 my Crohn’s got so debilitating that I had to undergo surgery (bowel resection with 2 feet of intestines removed). After surgery I followed the diet I was given at the hospital, but my health was quickly deteriorating… I was headed towards more surgery. The diet and medication were not helping me at all. In desperation, I finally decided that I would try an elimination diet to see if I could determine whether any particular foods or ingredients were exacerbating the condition of my guts. After a long process, which took many months, I found that my two major triggers were… MSG and carrageenan. I had heard that MSG caused migraines in some people, but I didn’t know anything else about the food additive. I knew even less about carrageenan… I didn’t even know how to pronounce the word. Less than a year after eliminating these ingredients from my diet, I was not only finally able to gain a bit of weight, but I was also able to stop taking all medication. I’m now 63 and to this day, if I accidentally have any food with either MSG or carrageenan in it, I react within 10 to 15 minutes of ingesting it. Sometimes I’m affected for only 4 to 5 hours, other times my reaction can last a day or two, or even longer.

      • I am one who is very sensitive to MSG. My last major reaction was at an oriental restaurant. Within 30 minutes of eating I had a massive headache, nausea and I had nearly passed out. I have not had a reaction that severe since but a small thing like a snack bag of seasoned chips will give me a pretty bad headache that will last over 12 hours.
        I did not realize that mushrooms have MSG in them and I eat them all the time with no effect. Curious. Maybe it is just the difference between naturally occurring MSG and the quantity of refined MSG as a food additive.

      • Food scientist… thanks I didn’t know that mushrooms contain MSG. I’m able to eat mushrooms without any reaction. But, I will keep that in mind in case I react to them in the future.

    • My husband, in his 50s, started having trouble emptying his bladder when urinating. He was only getting an hour of sleep at a time each night because he had the constant need to try to empty his bladder. Trips to the bathroom gave no relief. About that time he was diagnosed with high blood pressure and diabetes. He has an enlarged prostate, but tests show no prostate cancer was present. He was getting so little sleep he was nodding off at traffic stops. He was miserable.
      The doctors were prescribing him meds to relieve the symptoms but would not address his sleep issues. (A study on otherwise healthy college students was conducted. They were put through a period of sleep depredation after which they all showed signs of high blood pressure and diabetes.)
      My husband and I spent more than a year testing different foods to see food sensitivity was causing his trouble urinating. We found the culprit to be carrageenen. (We did not test MSG. MSG had already been eliminated from our diets because of the immediate and debilitating headaches it gave me.) Within two days of eliminating carrageenen he was symptom free…. and sleeping through the night. Most people are probably not as sensitive as he is, due to his enlarged prostate, but the carrageenen caused enough inflammation for him to completely change his life.

    • I appreciate your testimony. Too often, people treat our situation as an anomaly or even worse… they treat us as if we are alarmists. Official studies do not support our experience. Carrageenen may not noticeably affect most people but for a good many people it may be the difference between a good quality of life and …. no life at all. Thank you

  7. Regarding Carrageenan, it is found in most canned pet foods and I was aware of the controversy however, fed it to my two cats due to the lack of Non-Carrageenan canned pet food. I have witnessed first hand the ravages carrageenan has on a body of a cat. Food grade un-degraded Carrageenan gets “degraded” in stomach acid under certain conditions. (My cat ate his toys apart, like pieces of feather etc., and Japanese beetles, irritating his digestive lining, creating a perfect host for Carrageenan Inflammation) As well, research and studies have found food grade un-degraded Carrageenan is contaminated with degraded Carrageenan more often than not.
    Carrageenan slowly killed my 2 year 10 month old cat, over a period of two years. Onset of loose stool, over time into diarrhea, vomiting, passing of bright bloody mucus, surgery to his intestine (10″ between small and large). Intestine ulcerated with large non-cancerous growth. Continued to be sick not recovering. Effected left eye, went blind in left eye with detached retina. Ended life when he could also no longer pass urine without great pain, and it was suspected he had developed diabetes although Vet did not test for it; TOO MANY OTHER TEST WERE IN MOTION. Cause: “Inflammation from unknown source”. Not Cancer, Not Infection, No disease. I kept him on anti-anxiety medication to cope with the chronic pain, control vomiting and encourage him to eat because the Vet told me he should “recover”.

    Google: MOUSE PAW EDEMA: A laboratory process that injects un-degraded carrageen into limbs of rodents to induce inflammation for screening anti-inflammatory drugs.
    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/3690058

    Thousands of dollars given to the Vet over two years time, of whom still defends “Carrageenan”! They get away with it because your government has approved this monster stuff, AND IT IS LUCRATIVE FOR THEIR CLINIC TO DO SO. There is a reason you see so many ads all over for IBD in humans. READ THE RESEARCH AVAILABLE IF YOU LOVE YOUR PET LIKE A FAMILY MEMBER. I WISH I KNEW THEN, WHAT I KNOW NOW AND YES, I MISS SWAYZE PROFOUNDLY.

    • Just so you are aware. The symptoms of your cat are identical to a strain of Coccidia (microscopic protozoa parasite) in the intestinal tract. (the one that looks like green, black & pink abalone under a microscope) Affects the lining of the intestine first then wrecks havoc on mainly kidneys, liver and finally lungs, but does affect other systems.
      Most vets ignore the intestinal tract or if they do a stool exam only look for 2 well- known varieties (oval egg shape and a black & white puzzle looking round) OR they centrifuge the sample which causes the oocysts to stick to the sides, giving a “false negative”.
      Im a vet tech.

    • Just curious. How did you narrow it down to this ingredient? And what brand or brands did you feed your kitty? This is why I am actually researching Caraneegenan because of the controversy over it in my cats food. My oldest cat Bella has been having some stools with blood in them. No other symptoms except that. But there are other controversial ingredients as well that I am suspicious of. I am trying to get her off the “crap” brands but she is a SUPER finicky and picky eater. Not to mention, even the premium brands carry this chemical. I’m slowing switching her from what she is on and trying to see if the bloody stools diminish. Please let me know if you have anything else to add. I am sorry for the loss of your kitty. I will definitely take into consideration. All to often we don’t take in account the realization or underestimate others stories until something crazy happens to ourselves and we have no other proof except our word. Thanks for sharing.

      • Hi Josie, I’ve also done a lot of research on carrageenan. After losing our beloved cat in April, we decided to adopt 4 cats, who needed a home, in June. We were told by the rescue that the best food for them is canned grain free foods. We feed our babies Performatrin Ultra and Weruva as they are grain free AND carrageenan free. If you research ‘carrageenan free cat food’ you’ll find even more brands. Best of luck, I hope your kitty finds one that she likes.

  8. Regarding Carrageenan, it is found in most canned pet foods and I was aware of the controversy however, fed it to my two cats due to the lack of Non-Carrageenan canned pet food. I have witnessed first hand the ravages carrageenan has on a body of a cat. Food grade un-degraded Carrageenan gets “degraded” in stomach acid under certain conditions. (My cat ate his toys apart, like pieces of feather etc., and Japanese beetles, irritating his digestive lining, creating a perfect host for Carrageenan Inflammation) As well, research and studies have found food grade un-degraded Carrageenan is contaminated with degraded Carrageenan more often than not.

    MOUSE PAW EDEMA: A laboratory process that injects un-degraded carrageen into limbs of rodents to induce inflammation for screening anti-inflammatory drugs.
    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/3690058

    Carrageenan slowly killed my 2 year 10 month old cat, over a period of two years. Onset of loose stool, over time into diarrhea, vomiting, passing of bright bloody mucus, surgery to his intestine (10″ between small and large). Intestine ulcerated with large non-cancerous growth. Continued to be sick not recovering. Effected left eye, went blind in left eye with detached retina. Ended life when he could also no longer pass urine without great pain, and it was suspected he had developed diabetes although Vet did not test for it; TOO MANY OTHER TEST WERE IN MOTION. Cause: “Inflammation from unknown source”. Not Cancer, Not Infection, No disease. I kept him on anti-anxiety medication to cope with the chronic pain, control vomiting and encourage him to eat because the Vet told me he should “recover”.

    Google: MOUSE PAW EDEMA: A laboratory process that injects un-degraded carrageen into limbs of rodents to induce inflammation for screening anti-inflammatory drugs.
    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/3690058

    Thousands of dollars given to the Vet over two years time, of whom still defends “Carrageenan”! They get away with it because your government has approved this monster stuff, AND IT IS LUCRATIVE FOR THEIR CLINIC TO DO SO. There is a reason you see so many ads all over for IBD in humans. READ THE RESEARCH AVAILABLE IF YOU LOVE YOUR PET LIKE A FAMILY MEMBER. I WISH I KNEW THEN, WHAT I KNOW NOW AND YES, I MISS SWAYZE PROFOUNDLY.

  9. about 6 yrs ago my son started having severe intestinal problems while away at college. We had several doctor visits and test and even an ER visit and they couldn’t figure out what was wrong. He had started to eat more healthy and had added many new things to his diet. He was so miserable he went back to his old way of eating. Four years later when my daughter graduated from college she too started having intestinal issues. Hers were worse than my sons. She started to notice that they usually occurred after stopping at Starbucks on her way to work. She started investigating and found out about Carrageenan. She always had almond milk in her coffee and the brand they use has it in it. She had always used a different brand without it before and had no problems. So she stopped getting the Almond milk and the morning problems stopped. BUT then she found out when she had pumpkin pie at her boyfriends house she had the problems again. It turned out Carrageenan was in the evaporated milk used in the pie. She has gotten sick from desserts, lunch meats, yogurts etc. Every time, she found that the product included Carageenan. It usually hits her within a half hour of ingesting and she is very sick for half a day. We don’t take any chances now. When we go out to eat she tries to avoid mayo, cream sour cream etc. If she wants something with one of those things we ask the chef to check the ingredients. Once in awhile some item slips by and she is sick. We can always tie it back specifically to Carrageenan. Also, after she made her discovery, my son started to take notice of stomach issues and we found that his were also related to the product. I don’t believe anyone who says it is safe. Unfortunately my children were test subjects on how safe it is and it failed.

    • yeah, i have a similar reaction after eating popcorn. apparently, most do NOT.
      i have an allergic type reaction when consuming cow-milk products. sometimes it is scary cuz among other skin and upper respiratory reactions my throat starts swelling. But again, it seems that many do NOT.
      Took years to figure out that peanuts / peanut butter caused a sore throat so severe i spent several months each year for 5 yrs only whispering, unable to talk normally or for long.
      Apparently, many do NOT have such a reaction to peanut products.
      every so often i try them again, forgetting or just HOPING, but the body quickly and violently reminds me …”NO! not this”
      each time, took years to figure out and while others merrily consume these products, i must avoid them or be ill.

      outside of essential nutrients to survive, humans are omnivores and can eat LOTS of stuff and find some nutritional value, but food is complex and with the valuable stuff comes undesireable compounds that result in side effects for many.

      Humans have a genetic diversity and phenotype diversity with different tolerances.
      some have a peanut or carageenan issue, some have cow-milk or pollen issue.

      • Just so you know: humans have the flat teeth of herbivores (think horses and hippos). Humans also have the long digestive tract of herbivores, not the short efficient tracts found in carnivores. Herbivores need the long digestive process to extrude plant nutrients.

      • While true, some people may have allergies to peanuts, shellfish, milk and pollen which is a completely different type of allergy. Pollen (usually pollen from flowers versus trees because that pollen is smooth) can cause allergies in the nose not from ingestion. Allergies to peanuts,milk etc. Is not the same as caranageenan. Caranageenan is not in its true form although it is made from red seaweed that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s safe. Again, this is completely different than an allergy to a shrimp or peanut. Also, as the other person brought to your attention. Humans are mainly herbivore’s not omnivore’s. We should not “practically eat everything”.

    • I agree that it is not a safe product. I have been having having indigestion problems and IBS past few years. Not knowing what was causing it. My skin was itching daily with no hives or rash. I have been to allergists , dermatologist and five different Doctors over past five years. My tests shows no allergies. I went through process of eliminating foods, than ingredients. Sure enough it was Carageenan additive that was causing my indigestion and itching. Coffee mate was my number one culprit. i now read labels and do not purchase anything with carageenan if I can avoid it. my skin itches after eating now, I go back and search out the ingredients. It’s always Carageenan.

    • I found out years ago that I would get an immediate headache after ingesting carrageenan. That is why I always had a migraine at Thanksgiving after having the pumpkin pie and whipped cream. I now use a carrageenan-free half and half to make pumpkin pies and use Cool-whip. It’s hard to find a heavy cream without carrageenan. I found if I accidentally ingested carrageenan, I could stop the headache after taking two aspirin immediately. I can feel the pressure in my temples start to relax if I take it soon enough. So I am never without aspirin. I can’t ingest microcrystalline cellulose either, which is in many pharmaceuticals. It must be made from carrageenan.

  10. I have been using Nature’s Plus Source of Life Garden Calcium for years. Just recently I noticed that they added carrageenan to its capsule. I’m in shock. I have been using their calcium because it is organic. And now, I won’t use it. The company has not answered my emails about why they changed formulas.
    Does anyone know of another calcium from organic algae that I can switch to?

    • I was able to get in touch with the manufacturer of Nature’s Plus Source of Life Garden Calcium. They reformulated their capsule so that they can be certified Non-GMO. Apparently the stuff that’s inside the capsule is organic but their capsule wasn’t and so the new capsule now has carrageenan instead of vegetable cellulose. The rep said their carrageenan is from Irish Moss which is the ‘good’ carrageenan. If this is so, why is it not stated on their label like the calcium (from certified organic AlgaeCal) is.

  11. I removed dairy & eggs from my diet approx 2 years ago, well except for cheese which I love. Only managed to cut that out 4+ months ago. I definitely miss that.
    I found an Organic coconut milk is a small higher end supermarket here in Muscat, Oman where I temporarily live. The ingredients looked great. I wrote to the manufacturer ‘Earths Finest’ to make enquiries re’ their methods of extraction of the milk/creme, temperatures used & lining of the can. The response was all good until the last part, where they say they ‘Sterilise’ the product at 91 deg C ! What a huge disappointment, I will need to continue my milk/creme making from desiccated (dried)coconut. 🙁

  12. Try CocoBliss organic coconut ice cream or make ur own milk, cheese etc. Coco Bliss is 100% natural and chemical free, just coconut milk and organic sweeteners etc.

  13. This article looks to mostly cover the carcinogen effect, but what about inflammation? Or did I miss that part? I read previously that it is given to induce inflammation- and since I don’t want even more inflammation in my body, I avoid it. I wasn’t even aware of the cancer connection.

    • Tammy, I’m with you where is the inflammation info? I found out through an elimination diet that carrageenan was causing my aches and pain. I’m not talking a little muscle soreness, I’m talking it’s hard to get up and walk sore. So, like mentioned above I found out the hard way that they use it to induce arthritic symptoms in mice to test anti inflammatory drugs. It’s a bummer because I already didn’t eat dairy so it kind of nixed even the alternative ice creams and even cappaccinos. I think a lot of people are getting misdiagnosed with certain joint and muscle disorders and much of it is related to the food. ?

      • Wow, I was wondering if anyone was having the joint pains. Thanks for sharing your experience as I have been on an elimination diet for many things and have only now been suspecting carageenan as a possible joint pain cause. I will look up what you have written about the labs using it to create arthritis pain in mice. There are many people who are okay with the “it’s arthritis” diagnosis, but I am not as I believe
        there is a cause and like you say, it is very likely could be in the food.

  14. I noticed I would feel sick to my stomach after drinking one of my favorite health drinks. I felt my stomach get hot, and my insides would feel like they’re burning up, and I started to realize it happened after I drank my favorite drink.

    I started researching alternatives to my favorite health drink and in the alternatives I found a discussion about carrageenan and that we shouldn’t eat or drink it because it caused inflammation. I grabbed my favorite health drink and sure enough, saw that carrageenan was one of the ingredients.

    I decided to experiment on myself (and I didn’t want to just throw out my favorite drink that I paid a decent amount of money… I didn’t want to just waste it, so I experimented.)

    I didn’t drink it for a week, no stomach problems. Then, while I had planned on experimenting with them, I was in a hurry and decided to grab one and drink it. Sure enough, I remembered the experiment I wanted to do when I suddenly felt my stomach getting angry at me. I wondered how I had never noticed it before.

    The next day after work I drank another one, and sure enough, immediately felt sick to my stomach.

    Anyway, its clear in my mind, that at least for me, CARRAGEENAN causes my stomach to get upset, makes me feel sick to my stomach and gives me digestive problems.

      • I hear you a very high dollar probiotic called Dr. Ohhira’s professional formula has it in it and has messed a lot stomachs up I also think a lot of people can tolerate it like it’s nothing and others can’t.

    • Jem,
      you never answered the person who asked you
      what was the name of your “favorite drink”??
      We’d all be interested in knowing.

      Also, how do you know it was the carageenan in the drink specifically, that made your stomach sick?? Could have been anyone of the other ingredients, no??

  15. Given everything read here, what makes the most sense is to return to a completely natural diet where all ingredients are natural and therefore safe. Yes it is more work, but in the long run less than if it prevents one from becoming sick.

  16. I recently tried SoNice Barrista Blend and I just looked at it and it has Carrageenan in it. I checked my Almond milk Earth’s Own Vanilla Almond milk and it doesn’t have it in it but it does have Gellan gum so I’m going to make my own!

  17. Hey everyone! Is anyone else tired of people talking about carrageenan as if it is red meat, or cheese, or alcohol (products that REALLY cause big-time problems for many people. )

    I’ve been vegan for 23 years and have eaten carrageenan in some form almost daily. I have no stomach problems and I’m in great shape. I officially think this whole carrageenan thing has been blown out of proportion, as it pertains to the FOOD WE ACTUALLY EAT! No one is eating a big ‘ol bowl of plain carrageenan! RIGHT?

    I know I’m not alone in feeling this way, but when companies began replacing carrageenan, product quality suffered. Everything tastes “thinner”… No mouth-feel. Bolthouse Farms Soy Vanilla Chai is undrinkable compared to its old self. I can’t find any good-tasting nondairy mild anymore!

    How are we going to get people off dairy (a PROVEN inflammatory agent and murderous industry) and onto plant-based products if the quality is lacking? See the bigger picture?

    If the final “potential poligeenan” amount in a glass of soymilk is 0.006grams, I’m OK with that. I am!

    Anyone else willing to speak up for common sense here?

    The largest carrageenan producer is also the largest gellan producer (much more expensive ingredient), so I don’t think they are being hurt by this… Maybe even helped.

    Regardless, the 99.999% of the population who isn’t sensitive to carrageenan would like the hijacking of our delicious vegan foods to stop!

    • Ryan Howard, I suppose as long as it doesn’t bother you or make you sick, then we should all be forced to eat it? Some of us DO react very badly to it. I drank Silk Soy milk thinking it was a healthy alternative to regular milk for two years before it started negatively affecting me. I get severe stomach cramps, ocular migraines and other symptoms when I consume this garbage now. I have had to cut heavy cream, eggnog, ice cream, buttermilk and other dairy products containing carrageenan out of my diet and when I did, my symptoms went away. But I guess who cares if I get sick as long as you have a good mouth feel? If manufacturers want to include this junk in their products and people like you want to eat it, that’s fine with me. But also offer an alternative version of the product for those of us who have no choice in whether we eat it or not, because it makes us sick. Thankfully in recent years some manufacturers are offering some products without it. This year I found an organic eggnog I can drink that is free of it. I also found an organic chocolate milk that I can drink, if I want to pay 4 times the price of regular milk. I can only afford to buy that sparingly. Not everyone will be affected by carrageenan, but have some compassion for those of us who are and count yourself lucky that you aren’t. Yet.

      • Laurie, I’m fine with alternatives, but I couldn’t find one milk WITH carrageenan in it the other night at the store. It’s far superior in mouth feel, in my opinion.

        Again, I’ve been drinking this stuff for 23 years and no issues. I would like to be able to continue… But the fear mongering is high! Someone on this page blamed dizziness and stomach cramps on carrageenan in an ICED CUPPACINO DRINK instead of blaming caffeine. That’s nuts!

        And that people are worried about the carrageenan in processed meats instead OF THE MEAT is hilarious.

        One single researcher reviewing papers and a quackwatch-listed website (cornucopia) can change an industry, I assume.

        • I can agree that eggnog with carrageenan is thicker and has a better texture, but what good is that if I get sick drinking it? Milk itself isn’t the problem here, most milk alone does not contain carrageenan, it’s the products made from milk – heavy cream, buttermilk, eggnog, ice cream, etc – that contain it, as a thickener, I think. To give that mouth feel you value so highly. 🙂 Milk has been the only dairy product I could have until recently. I ended up buying an ice cream machine so I can make my own ice cream. I am looking into a way to make my own buttermilk as well. The limited selection in the store has forced me to be more self-reliant in making healthy foods.

          • I hate the smooth feel and texture (and taste depending) of thickening additives in ice cream. I love the delightful delicate way real ice cream in the mouth crumbles, breaks apart into quickly dissolving liquid. The process is fascinating. I’ve actually have had ice cream thick s glue that my mouth got tired. Gag.

            • I have to agree. I recently bought a carton of regular eggnog for my husband, who doesn’t like the taste of my organic brand, and it was so thick it was like drinking phlegm. Yuck.

            • I only eat Turkey Hill ice cream in the BROWN boxes. It is pure = no additives. I also stumbled across a pure ice cream at Aldi’s (a German company now doing business in the U.S.) It only comes in vanilla and chocolate, but it too has no additives. In fact, I’ve sort of fallen in love with many of Aldi’s products. It’s worth the trip, IMHO, to get so many ‘foreign’ but completely edible foods…

    • Just to be a giant pain in the arse Brian I’m going to tell you that yep, few people in Ireland eating big old bowls of Carrageen Moss seaweed jelly, where it’s the main ingredient. 😀 A new local business selling it in various flavours was set up by youngsters recently here and won an award. It’s a folk medicine here (high in iodine) and traditional dessert. I’ll be interested to discover if anyone gets IBS from it. I won’t be using it as part of my bowel cleaning diet now! As an aside, every US diet thread I read, SO many food additives! Why would it be added to cottage cheese?? I feel for you all with diet issues food shopping over there. I hope it doesn’t get like that here if TTIP goes through 🙁

      • Hi Anna, I live in the U.S. and have had severe ‘gut’ issues since I was a young child (I’m now 80 years old). One of my granddaughters was diagnosed with Crohn’s Disease and she got rid of it by going totally vegan. I could not do that after years of eating the way I did. After seeing several gastroenterologists and getting no help, I finally saw one who did a thorough exam and told me I had a lot of ‘allergies’ to many additives: HFCS, MSG, guar gum, carrageenan, etc. I literally became afraid to eat and went from 130 to 96 lbs. in a year. I discovered that it was much safer to order products from Ireland, England, Germany, etc., so now I pay the huge difference in price to get ‘purer’ products. It’s worth it. Here’s an example: I went to a barbeque recently and had some red potato salad (I stupidly thought it was homemade). It was store bought…that night I had a severe bout of cramps and diarrhea. It lasted for 3 days. I found out the stuff had carrageenan. This is just a confirmation of why I agree with you. We may be all built differently, but those of us who suffer have to be extra careful. I thank the European countries who have wised up, and say ‘bah, humbug’ to the U.S. manufacturers who are more interested in profits than making products that are harmful to some of us. Whatever happened to adding cornstarch as a thickener??? It probably costs more…

    • Hi, I just started taking omega 3s which I read it has carrageenan. Please tell me what’s the real harm if there is one. I really need to take this pills b/c I need some calcium in my joints. And no, am not a vegetarian. I am also Avery healthy man.

      • I have recently heard that magnesium will remove calcium deposits. The Mg need to be applied to the skin for fuller affect as Mg is not absorbed well by the gut. There are Mg skin sprays etc or bath in epsom salts regularly. Its also great for joint pain, esp. arthritis and muscle pain with exercise etc.

    • how lucky for you that you can go shopping and find foods that are vegan, even labeled as such. how lucky for you that you have that choice and it is made clear. i think i would just like the same choice. For example, plumping solutions for poultry often contain carrageenan, but it does not have to be labeled as such. carrageenan can be used in the beer making process, but does not have to be listed an an ingrediant. I sometimes have to find out if it is in a food by having violent reactions to it. that sucks. we are clear with food labeling of things that cause allergic reactions (i.e. may be crosscontaminated with peanuts and tree nuts at the factory).
      i dont wish to take your additives away, id just like a clearer choice to not ingest them.

    • Yes but the poli type is a known cancer causer. If you ingest a little every day eventually you end up with a lot of cancer causing something floating in your body. Add that to all the cancer causing crap we eat, drink and breathe….its a cancer fest here in America!

  18. Chris – I agree that the jury may still be out on this from a scientific point of view, but thank you for explaining all sides in an easy to understand manner. I appreciate the impartial tone to the explanations and that you do point out when some part is your own opinion. So hard to find these days. Thank you!

  19. Chris,

    Your article on carrageenan / polygeenan failed to mention that there is well known and much-used research mouse model of colitis, that is created just by feeding mice polygeenan.

    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/6468767

    I do have Crohn’s and am extremely sensitive to carrageenan. As you did mention, all carrageenan contains a certain amount of low molecular weight carrageenan aka degraded carrageenan, aka polygeenan (an industry coined term, to make degraded carageenan sound better).

    • I began researching carrageenan when I resolved to discover what ingredient in cottage cheese made my stomach feel queasy. I avoid it now, but was surprised to see how many products list it as an ingredient.

      What the article fails to mention is that digestive enzymes and bacterial action convert high molecular weight carrageenans to dangerous low molecular weight carrageenans and poligeenans in the human gut. And you may get more than the .006 grams if you ingest several products with carrageenan as an ingredient. Say, for instance, you have a meal with deli meats (which are injected with carrageenan), a glass of your soy or almond milk, a salad including cottage cheese, and then ice cream for dessert. Later, because it’s hot, you have a Popsicle…yes, a lot of Popsicle have carrageenan, too. Other processed foods may contain carrageenan without it being on the ingredient label, too, because it isn’t required to list the ingredients of ingredients.

      Anyway, Dr. Joanne Tobacman’s studies showed that extremely low doses of carrageenan disrupt the internal cellular architecture of healthy breast tissue. With the huge increase of breast and colon cancer in recent years, I do not doubt carrageenan is complicit. Today, 42% of the population is projected to get cancer. Compare that with 10% in the seventies! Granted, there are more environmental carcinogens, but with regards to an industry ready to bribe a corrupt FDA and a genocidal government, I wouldn’t trust anything that is reported to a gullible public willing to put their trust in those who are only interested in their money so they can eat their favorite snackies without a second thought.

      • Comments:

        SO are we just ignoring that the scientific community, far and wide, believes carrageenan is safe? It’s not even 50/50, or 60/40. It’s more like 98% believe it’s safe.

        One could draw correlations between the anti-carrageenan thought (*or any non-proven stance) and climate-change deniers. Climate change is real… and probably carrageenan IS safe to eat…. because the large majority of scientists who have studied it believe this.


        I read about people blame carrageenan for making them sick after eating products such as cottage cheese and lunch meats… Anyone else see something wrong with this? Maybe there are larger dietary issues here?


        Cornucopia Institute has a white paper stating that Carrageenan is on the World Health Organization’s “possible carcinogens list”. I looked and IT is NOT. Degraded carrageenan (poligeenan) is on there, as we know, but not carrageenan itself. I understand that PGN comes from CGN, but that’s a slippery slope… If we do that, then we must also say that gluten-free bread is a carcinogen because it has naturally occurring acrylamide in it. I’m not ready to stop eating bread.

        What is on the WHO’s “possible carcinogens” ?
        The alcohol in alcoholic beverages (beer and wine!) and tobacco are, unsurprisingly, on this list. More surprisingly though: aloe vera extract, coffee and pickled vegetables ARE on this list! Thus, shouldn’t more “anti” attention be towards getting aloe vera, coffee and pickles removed from stores? Has anyone seen the list?

        Further, the list is POSSIBLE carcinogens. I don’t drink or smoke, but I really don’t want to give up coffee, bread, or putting aloe vera on sun burn.


        Carrageenan being replaced by Gellan Gum: There are people on the internet who don’t trust gellan’s safety… Does anyone feel like there’s going to be a big non-science based backlash to gellan as well in a few years? It’s a slippery slope!


        Gums, like carrageenan, are fiber and insoluble.. these can cause problems for people with fiber issues. I’d hate for someone to think carrageenan is causing them problems when it’s actually ANY fiber that’s causing issues.


        Again, I’ve been eating carrageenan-containing foods for 23 years with no problems. I’m sure there are also plenty of sea animals that eat red seaweed on a daily basis that are okay as well.

        I think I’m almost done spending time trying to talk science into the religious-types… because it’s generally a losing battle.

        • Unfortunately, Ryan, it is how it is in the food science community. We do our best to educate people about what actually goes on within Food Science, but people would rather listen to the whistleblowers than the education. It’s a harsh reality I’ve grown to accept as well.

        • There was once a time when scientists all agreed that DDT was safe. One time they all thought Thalidimide was safe. That doesn’t mean it IS safe. It also doesn’t mean that even if it IS safe, it can still make some people sick who are sensitive to it. Because you have eaten it for years without ill effect doesn’t mean everyone else can without ill effect as well. I also ate and drank it in foods for years, but guess what? One day my body said enough and it started making me sick. It may not affect large numbers of people who consume it, but does that mean it’s ok to ignore those people who ARE aversely affected by it, and simply brush off their concerns? One day you may also be one of those people, if your body also says enough.
          There was a time when these products didn’t contain carrageenan. What were they using instead back then? Why not go back to it?

          • Laurie B,

            Many people are allergic to nuts and must avoid them. I think the point is that while some people may have issues with this ingredient, the majority don’t, and it shouldn’t be represented as an ingredient that is harmful across the board that shouldn’t be used at all.

            It’s good to know this ingredient can cause or exasperate certain health issues so that people can read the labels and make their own decisions. I just find it ironic that people are so shocked about finding this ingredient on their labels, and this automatically becomes the “obvious” culprit in all of their ailments… before they even bother to test it.

            Then again, many of the people on health food kicks likely aren’t eating a well balanced diet, and getting all of the nutrients they need… because, alas, the things with the nutrients have been found to be unhealthy in some way… I love when people tell me stories about their super healthy cleanse that resulted in them going to the hospital…

            We can only conclude that every person is different, and hence it’s important to label ingredients on packages so that people can make their own decisions. Hopefully those decisions are based on real / factual information, rather than myth and conspiracy alone.

            One other point; Yes, humans used to be hunter / gatherers, eating only natural non-processed foods. No one knows if they ever had health problems from the foods they ate. Did they ever have acid reflux / heartburn? Did they ever get diarrhea? Did they ever get ulcers in their intestines? Maybe. We do, however, know that their lifespans were much shorter than ours today, and often times they may have even starved to death.

            That doesn’t mean we should just be happy with what we’ve got. Obviously if our diets are causing problems and we can improve the ingredients we eat, we definitely should. We shouldn’t, however, assume that there is ever going to be a perfect set of ingredients out there that both allows us to store food longer, allows us to thicken food to make it taste right, and doesn’t cause any ill effects to anyone ever. If there was an ingredient like this, and it was cheap enough that people were willing to pay the premium for it, producers would most certainly use it!

            The problem is, everyone thinks there is some great big conspiracy going on, and each time it’s found that some ingredient may have negative health impacts to a small subset of the population, people yell and scream to remove the ingredient altogether, rather than looking for alternative products that don’t use it. Trust me, if enough people refuse to buy a product unless there are alternative ingredients used, someone will produce them and make that money!

            • Thank you I was getting mixed messages on this ingredient. My child love cheese but is allergic and there was a vegan cheese that had this in it and just heard bad things but I guess I have been eating it all along. I will see how his body reacts and hoping he can enjoy it. I don’t really like soy however. Just my opinion

  20. I want to be removed from getting subscription comments. I’ve tried to use your manage subscription thing and it didn’t work or it’s too difficult to figure out. Please make it easy to remove oneself from getting continuous follow up comments, such as a simple click. Irritating.

  21. Chris Kresser, you said in your article, “carrageenan- containing seaweeds have been used for centuries” ! Do you want to document that……….or re state the truth ???

    • Here in Ireland Carrageen Moss seaweed is a traditional coastal food (in the form of a jelly) and folk medicine for coughs and colds and as a general tonic- possibly due to its high iodine content.

      • Do you know of any good web resources for identifying, harvesting, and preparing Irish Moss/Carrageen (as opposed to carrageenan)? I live on the coast of New England, and I understand that it grows in abundance along our shores. My Irish Nana spoke of foraging and eating it as a regular part of her diet, seeing as she grew up on the shores of Clew Bay.

  22. I make my own but milk, so much tastier! However, I noticed recently that my toothpaste, which is more natural and rated well on ewg, has carrageenan in it. Since you aren’t swallowing tooth paste, would it matter or would it be wise to find another option?

  23. So Delicious Coconut Milk coffee creamer is now Carrageenan (and silicon dioxide) free. I want to give them kudos for listening to the public and changing their formula. However, I am bummed when I read dozens of reviews on Amazon with people thrashing them for the product changing. Complaints about how it isn’t as thick, or that it separates some unless stirred/shaken. Go back to coffee mate if you want some laboratory created creamer!

    • Except now, the Soy Delicious Coffee creamer doesn’t whiten the coffee! It just dilutes it and barely sweetens. It’s not a good product anymore. Just overpriced, thin soymilk with a bit of dipotassium phosphate in it to prevent coagulation.

      No Kudos to them for making a worse product.

      Vegans are bummed!

      • Would be nice if this vegan could stop trolling and purporting their vegan crusade and blaming just dairy products and meat for causing problems instead of carrageen or along with carrageenan. I don’t want it in my almond or cashew milk (which is a vegan item). If it causes inflammation in the gut I don’t want it because that only makes my diverticulosis worse, and could contribute to a life threatening infection. What a luxury for someone to be able to put the consistency of their food product over the health of the intestines. Not all of us can do that still or easily find alternatives for purchase (or have time and strength to make an alternative). Like a lot of other people I was fine with a lot of ingredients until I wasn’t. Probably a paid employee by some carrageenan corporate office, because who else would refuse to care about the health of others above product consistency?

        • This should have been the first AND LAST sentence of that post: “Like a lot of other people I was fine with a lot of ingredients until I wasn’t. ”
          it adds a valuable perspective and reality to how health and the world operate.
          The rest is ad-hominem fallacy.

      • yes, its indicative of trends/memes to ignore the vast scientific evidence to pursue a trend/meme. L
        In this case, ignoring the american heart association and WHO, both who currently, clearly, and strongly identify coconut and its saturated fats as VERY BAD FOR HEALTH.

        It IS a good think in general, that folks are interested in longer term health issues like chronic disease and acting on purportedly scientific information. If only the gov’t would give some more priority on resolving health and longevity scientific discrepancies QUICKLY and UNDENIABLY and VIGOROUSLY via well conducted science/experimentation. epidemiology, for example is useful input, but generally NOT well conducted scientific studies.

        its sickening to see people argue over what amounts to a common interest but often with uncertainties and confusion due to the fragmented, unfocused approach to science today.

  24. I found out years ago that carrageenan caused me to get severe headaches. One taste of most hard ice creams, whipped cream, etc., my head would immediately tighten up in pain. No wonder I always had a severe headache at Thanksgiving after using evaporated milk in the pumpkin pies. And now most, if not all, vegetarian capsules cause the same reaction. So it was no surprise when I found these companies add carrageenan to their capsules. I have no problem with the gelatin capsules, but unfortunately it is harder and harder to find medication using those. I know anytime I see microcrystalline cellulose on a supplement label, I will also get the same headache. I don’t know if microcrystalline cellulose contains carrageenan or if they add carrageenan to it, but there definitely is a connection.

  25. I’m taking a supplement for my hormones which has carrageenan inside – as prescribed by my GP. It’s a good supplement and I presume the amount inside is so small, but I wonder if it could be causing reactions like itchy skin.

    • Concerning Itchy skin and Carrageenan. I have suffered with Itchy skin and very painful at times, without a rash for several years. Through process of ilimination , found that Carrageenan in my food mainly my Coffeemate creamer was causing the problem. I now read ingredient labels and will not buy anything with it listed. But there are other foods that have it hidden under other names.

  26. Why would I eat this if it is even questionable? It’s not necessary in any true sense of the word. And even when it comes to the supposedly less harmful form (I can’t call it non-harmful based on the above), if 10-20% of it could be broken down in my gut into the harmful form, that’s not acceptable in any respect, not if you use something frequently or consider lifetime effects. I sure wouldn’t give that to a child either. Nor do I trust manufacturers at this point, since they often say “distributed by” themselves on the label with a US address, which probably means it is made in China, and no one knows what they are putting in our food really. If we trust them, I think that’s naïve.

    These processed non-dairy milks are not necessary for life. To be healthy, it is worth giving up some of our favorite ways of eating, like cereal with milk. If you want the benefits of almonds or beans, just eat them, and drink something else! Plus it costs less. I do best without dairy milk, but I can live just fine without any substitutes.

  27. To add my own experience with carrageenan:

    I had used to drink hemp milk containing carrageenan (Tempt Unsweetened Vanilla) and then feel very tired afterward. I similarly feel tired whenever accidentally eating anything gluten-contaminated, since I have Celiac, and many medical professionals would agree that this is due to damage to the intestinal lining from the immunen reaction. Was carageenan irritating my colon, causing inflammation, in turn causing tiredness while the tissue is healed? I don’t know, but I was diagnosed with lymphocytic colitis (a mild form of colitis). Recently, Tempt has replaced carrageenan with gellan gum, and when I drink their hemp milk now I don’t feel tired afterward.

  28. I had sudden onset of atrial fib. Could been hundred reasons,but i was drinking lots of almond milk which was new to me. Cardiologist thought i was crazy. Recently been using lots of can milk, havinf difficulty getting to store for cow milk. Atrial fib n dysrhytmia back even with my meds.
    New is the carigeen in can milk. I have immune problems already. I think i have an alergic reaction, n my heart goes nutty…. could i be right

  29. Thank you for the insight. It should be noted that carrageenan is also one of the most acnenic ingredients in the market, causing severe cystic acne in those who are already predisposed to breakouts. While largely cosmetic in effect, it can be socially debilitating and a cause of depression, given the severity of the symptoms. For those folks who avoid dairy for its potential to cause skin distress, non-dairy beverages containing carrageenan are often no better solution.

  30. @ Mike: Peanuts are poison to me. They cause all kinds of histamine issues including anaphylactic shock. Run from that crap.
    Long version: When a person has an allergy to a substance, it isn’t correct or fair for them to suggest that it’s harmful in the same way to everyone. I have gluten intolerance, but I wouldn’t say that no one should eat spelt or couscous, just as somebody with an allergy to eggs would never say I shouldn’t eat omelettes.
    Disclaimer: I don’t actually have a peanut allergy, I was just using it as an example because it’s the type most people have heard of.

  31. I was having some real gut pain due to carrageenan in my almond milk. The only milk I found without carrageenan is Whole Foods 365 Almond milk. No gut pain anymore. I Also advise eliminating anything (like most stevia) with silica in it for the same reason. Sweet Leaf stevia is minus silica.

  32. Im always quite careful what I am eating…. I check ingredients on everything and yesterday I had some MACARONI SALAD and it tasted pretty good……. THANKFULLY I DIDNT HAVE ALOT!!!

    IT HAS THIS GARBAGE IN IT!!! (This morning I am all achy,etc)

    NO REASON TO PUT THIS CRAP IN ANYTHING!!!!! (This and aspartame)

    I SWEAR THEY WANT TO HARM PEOPLE!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    • This stuff is poison to me. Causes all kinds of histamine issues including anaphylactic shock. Run from this crap.

  33. thank you for the article!! I have been trying to research carrageenan recently because a vitamin supplement I take uses carrageenan to make their gel capsules. From the article I got the feeling that it is okay to take them since there is such a small amount of carrageenan in a single capsule. Is that a safe assumption? Or should I try to avoid them?

  34. Wow, great article. When I learned of this issue, I started researching it because I am 17 weeks pregnant and nervous about how a fragile baby would process such an ingredient, as a fetus doesn’t even have a way to properly metabolize caffeine. I felt alarmed about the rat studies linking lung birth defects with carageenan “only slightly above normal human daily intake.” However, I was never able to find any info on whether researchers used degraded or undegraded carageenan, and whether they were giving tiny rats human-sized quantities, or if they adjusted for the rat’s size. So I really hated reading all the alarmist articles that never clarified any of these important details and just kept raising my anxiety. Your article however made me feel much calmer, and synced with my gut feeling that 1 to 2 cups a day of my almond milk is not the end of the world. That said I have given up my favorite brand of almond milk for now due carageenan content and still feel nervous about the 16 weeks I ignorantly consumed it while pregnant. I would rather be safe than sorry. Going to check out your other articles. Thank you for being a voice of both health AND reason. That is the kind of science I’m looking for and will come back to read your articles again and again.

    • No need to be nervous about the other 16 weeks that you consumed carrageenan. Any issues with carrageenan are isolated to the gut (intestines). This would not affect the baby in any way.

    • Thanks for that info – good to have an option that is carrageenan-free (and made in Canada-wonderful!). Still have to try making my own almond milk, though.

  35. would you say its safe to pick fresh carageenan from the shore to eat? I use seaweeds in my cooking quite a bit, carageenan included.

    • Nothing is side-effect free, its all about risk % vs value(in whatever units one can qualify “value”).
      Guaranteed that most ANYTHING consumed for nutritive value will have components that range from toxic to irritating.
      Whether its your spring water, tap water, animal flesh, cooked foods, fruits, vegetables, etc….they virtually ALL have toxins in them.
      the total impact on quality of life is what is important. Substituting significant saturated fat in place of carrageenan is NOT a rational choice from purely a HEALTH angle. In fact you’d be advised to do the OPPOSITE in light of the totality of impact as determined by the totality of scientific evidence.

  36. Now I’m scared to death. I didn’t know anything about this poison and since May, have been giving my son, who has GERD, and is autistic, Aloe Vera Gel with this in it. 20-25 oz. a day. 1-3 oz. per glass of water…even worse from what I read. I as so happy that I found the Aloe to reduce the inflammation in his esophagus and now I may have harmed him even more. How much of this does a person have to have before they get cancer? Right now I feel like having a nervous breakdown….

    • Poor Phyllis! I really don’t think you need to worry, just finish off your current bottle and find a different brand that doesn’t have carrageenan. Most of us were eating lots of products with this ingredient for many, many years before we read the alarmist articles saying to avoid it. Chris’s article did a lot to alleviate my concerns about occasional use…so read it again and see if you might have misunderstood him.

      Note his conclusion: “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.”

      Best wishes for you and your son…may your lives become happier, healthier, and less stressed this year!

    • I love how he was defending it the entire time and then all the sudden at the very end says he doesn’t eat it. The 5% is contaminated!! What if one in every 20 meals you ate was poisonous? And he clearly states that when administered with a carcinogen this will devolop a lethal cancer. Umm CIGARETTES!!!!! Which have every f****** carcinogen in them, and all you need is a trace amount and amount caught by inhaling a puff of smoke exhaled by another. Seems like you think inside the box Chris be smarter…

      • Will, you clearly misunderstand his statement. The carrageenan, that is likely 1% of a milk alternative, may be contaminated up to 5% with poligeenan. That’s .00005%. Not as you’ve stated, 1 in every 20 meals poisoned.

        This is the most even-handed take on carrageenan I’ve seen yet. Most of what is circulating online about this substance is overly dramatic fear-mongering. The science doesn’t support the attacks. The author draws the most REASONABLE conclusion you can based on the existing research. It is likely that you can consume the amounts most people do safely. BUT, subsequent research needs to be done to verify this.

        In vitro studies, i.e. in a Petrie dish or test tube, don’t prove anything conclusive. Especially designed as the author describes. They are not real world. Ditto to trans-species studies. You are not a rat or a guinea pig! Studies on rabbits were used to justify the “dangers of eggs” and cholesterol. Turns out we are pretty resilient to dietary cholesterol, rabbits not so much. But, the studies that are known to be garbage are still used to justify the millions of unnecessary statin scripts written each year.

        Put down the torches and pitchforks! READ THE ARTICLE AGAIN without hunting for the tidbits that support your anti-carrageenan stance.

        • Thank you so much for actually having read the article, wish others would do so and stop acting like Chicken Little. Seems that folks are many times more willing to make themselves hysterical over pseudo-scientific claims about a substance than to look at the actual science. Guess actual science is too boring.

    • Phyllis,

      You might want to check out the ingredients in all foods we eat, the products used all around, candles that you might burn, vaccines, etc.

      Carrageenan might not seem so bad after all that research. One step at a time and knowing that knowledge is power and that you can make a change by choosing to purchase other products. Good luck.

  37. My son has been lactose intolerant from the day he was born. The only formula he was able to digest was the “predigested” form…

    He is now 2 1/2 years old and is still lactose intolerant but if he has a steady feed of lactaid he is able to eat other dairy products in moderation.

    He LOVES the organic vanilla and chocolate milk from Starbucks and vanilla almond milk. I let him have it as a treat but the vanilla milk from Starbucks and the vanilla almond milk causes major digestive problems but he doesn’t seem to have as much of a problem with the chocolate milk.

    All three have carrageenan in it. Does anyone know why he is having more problems with the vanilla vs chocolate milk??

    Thanks for all of your help! He has been tested many times and tests negatives on just about any test that could help identify “stomach issues”

    • Maybe the type of sweetener used? Do you have a full ingredients list – I couldn’t find anything online. Vanilla flavored drinks are usually sweetened with something, and in the case of Earth Balance brand, with Corn Syrup. Chocolate milks are often sweetened with Inulin (aka Chicory Root) which gives me a lot of problems, same with Corn Syrup. Or it could be the quantity of the carrageenan added – chocolate adds its own texture whereas vanilla would need more carrageenan to provide texture. Bottom line, sometimes we just have to avoid products without knowing why!

    • Starbucks uses a low quality form of coconut, almond and soy milk. I would avoid it [Starbucks] altogether.

  38. Is carrageenan safe to use as a cosmetic ingredient in formulations for external use only? I just purchased an Aloe Vera Gel that has its primary ingredient as carrageenan. I use aloe Vera gel in most of my homemade creams, lotions, body washes, shampoos and soaps.

    If carrageenan is unsafe for internal use I’m concerned about using it topically on the largest organ; the skin. Is topical use a major concern also?

    • Why not make your own fresh aloe gel? Aloe can be found at any supermarket or even in people’s yards. That would solve your concern.

      • Aloe extract literally IS on the World Health Organization’s Class 2B “possible Carcinogen” list.

        Regular Carrageenan is not.

        Who wants to give up Aloe?

  39. Even though Chris focused on Almond & Coconut milks here, most Soy Milk brands – including the entire range of ‘365’ brand from Whole Foods – contain carrageenan. Of the few that are carrageenan-free my favorite used to be Earth Balance (any variety). I say ‘used to be’ because they just announced that they are dropping all Soy Milks from their product range as of January 2015. I just stocked up on a dozen cartons!

    As always, Chris’s article was very well informed, balanced and objective. For me, eliminating carrageenan was the last piece in the puzzle for resolving a 10 year battle with IBS. 2 years ago I made a huge step in the right direction by going ‘wheat free’ (many thanks to Dr Davis, of ‘wheat belly’ fame) but still had problems. It wasn’t until I read articles about carrageenan, and realized it was in practically everything I consumed (as was wheat!) and proactively eliminated it, that my IBS and other digestive issues went away completely.

    I plan on writing to Whole Foods Market to see if they would consider introducing carrageenan-free soy & other milks into their range, perhaps even purchasing the rights from Earth Balance for their formula.

    • That’s very interesting and I’m so happy for you! I assume you are aware of the risks of soy, so I won’t go much into it except to recommend that if you haven’t researched it, please do. 🙂 I was raised on many different types of soy products, but when I found out they can damage the thyroid, I started avoiding them about 15 years ago. Now I do have a thyroid condition, so I’m glad at least I did that much.

    • There is an organic coconut milk available with no sugar and no carrageenan. It’s called “So Delicious Dairy Free and Albertson’s carries it.

      • Albertson’s sold their stores to Publix in my area. Thanks for posting about a better alternative with “So Delicious Dairy Free”, I was able to locate their products at WINN DIXIE.

  40. Here’s how I make my own tall glass of oat milk, for its vitamin-B-soothing qualities, and general tastiness.

    1/2 cup old fashioned rolled oats into dry blender.
    Grind for a minute or less.
    Add 12 oz filtered water (no ice).
    Blend for a minute.
    Use a nylon strainer (I have an old nylon re-usable coffee filter) to strain the ground up oats out of the liquid. I put the filter over a wide jar and stir the liquid quickly with a spoon to encourage quick filtering.) This step takes a minute or two. Be patient.

    Your finished product should be around 10 oz of oat milk!
    I add a tablespoon good quality maple syrup, and a few ice cubes. Fantastic for calming my nerves/body before bed!

    p.s. I do not make oat milk to store in the fridge, as the oats settle and the whole thing separates and thickens. This type of milk is best made up fresh and served immediately.

    • Whole Food “365” brand (their own brand) has Organic ALMONDMILK unsweetened. It’s also calcium enriched. It’s the only organic one I’ve found to date without carrageenan in it.
      I just read today, that WhiteWave Foods (Silk and Horizon products) will be discontinuing use of carrageenan, 2015, due to customer pressure, so that’s a good thing.

  41. I have been using Almond Breeze Almond milk in everything requiring animal milk products. I have been so ill ever since. Had no idea until after reading this article that some alomond milk brands contain carrageenan. I can not return to animal products due to lactose problems. Does anyone have a particular brand I can try that does not contain carrageenan?

    • I don’t know where you are, but if you have a Wegman’s or ShopRite near you, they sell organic almond milks without carrageenan.

      • Yes. And inexpensive if you have a 99 Cent Clearance Center near you. I live out in the country and buy 10 cartons per trip. Organic soy, no sugar, no carrageenan.

        • Oops! I looked again. Front says plain but ingredients list says evaporated cane syrup and nutional list says 6 gm of sugar per cup. In case any are avoiding sugar and carrageenan.

    • If you have access to HEB, they have a house brand of Almond Milk I have found that I like a lot, particularly the sweetened vanilla, that does not have carrageenan in it. Even my 10 year old son likes it.

    • Try the Whole Foods “365” organic almond milk. You can find the 1/2 gallon package in their refrigerated section as well as smaller packages that need not be refrigerated until opened. They don’t have carageenan in them.

    • Lactose free products (milk, sour cream, etc) are often in the market now. Plus there are lactase enzyme pills. (If the pills haven’t worked for you in the past, it might have been that they were stored outside of the required temperature range which degrades the protein’s effectiveness. You can’t keep them in your pocket or car.)

  42. This morning on an empty stomach I drank coffee with heavy whipping cream. I must have been desperate when I purchased the cream, because I normally check for carrageenan. I know I have problems with whey, so I avoid half and half. 15 minutes after I finished my coffee I began to have low to mid grade pain in my gut. I have/had ulcerative colitis, resulting in the loss of my colon. Therefore, I try to be very tuned in to my body and it’s reaction to foods and additives. I am attempting to heal my remaining gut with broths, home-made kefir (pre and probiotics), non GMO products, etc., in order to avoid further damage to my remaining intestines. Carageenan is now officially off my list.

    Thank you for you research on carrageenan.

    • You might want to try making your own yogurt. If you buy the Yogourmet yogurt cultures and follow the directions, especially letting it “cook” for 24-30 hours, the yogurt can be very helpful in reintroducing the healthy bacteria back into your system to help reduce inflammation. Most store-bought yogurts have bacteria that can cause inflammation (read up on the SCD on the web, lots of info there) but if you make your own, it can help a lot. Best of luck!

  43. I contacted Organic Valley today regarding carrageenan in their heavy whipping cream which is what I use in my daily coffee. Carrageenan is not listed as an ingredient on the cream I buy. I was informed that there are two types of heavy whipping cream, traditional pasteurized and ultra-pasteurized. The traditional has no carrageenan, the ultra-pasteurized does. I buy the traditional cream at Whole Foods.

  44. This is so upsetting. I have been eating cottage cheese for years. Everyday of my life. I’m not sure what damage has been done. Can I even fix it? I’m want to give up dairy all together. I was looking at milk alternatives and they all have negative ingredients. Soy, folic acid and now this. Ugh! I can’t take how we are being destroyed by food manufacturing.

    • For a great milk alternative, try organic almond milk without carrageenan (hard to find but they do exist). Make sure you get the organic almonds as I read that non-organic ones may contain high levels of pesticides.

      By the way, what’s so bad about soy (esp. non-GMO soy) and folic acid?

      • The soy question is easily answered by googling “dangers of soy.” The concern about folic acid is most likely due to MTHFR, which you can also google or look up Ben Lynch. There are some YouTube videos to make it somewhat understandable. 🙂

    • I know how you are feeling. I was buying Horizon Organic Cottage Cheese and looked at the ingredients. Sure enough carrageenan was in it. I now buy Daisy brand that is not organic but has skim milk, cream, salt, and cultures in it. (I am hoping the cultures is not something bad!!

  45. I have grown children that jump into the latest food fad every time a new one pops up. When will they learn that advertisers are using their fear to sell their products at exorbitant prices with little or no added value at all, not to mention the risk of potentially compromising the very health that they are trying so hard to preserve. They are so preoccupied and obsessed with eating healthy that I wonder how mentally unhealthy they are! These are educated, intelligent people but their fridge and cupboards are filled with prepackaged snacks, sauces and ‘heath’ foods. They think that adding a package of prepared sauce full of chemicals to a can of beans is cooking or that baking prepared sweet potatoes makes fried food ok. They don’t really know how to cook anymore and they think because it says ‘Gluten Free’ on the label or whatever the latest health fad is, that it is good for you – even if it’s a bag of chips! Yes, I’m serious! It’s so simple people – Eat Food, Not Too Much, Mostly Plants – if you care about being healthy!

  46. Anyone can have an allergy or intolerance to anything in food. It’s very individual. I don’t have problems with carageenan, but have to avoid chicory root extract (inulin) which companies are putting into everything now to boost the fiber content. I am also allergic to cow’s milk, eggs, tomato, pork, and probably seafood but that doesn’t mean everybody else has to avoid those foods. I’m a chemist and a pharmaceutical translator, and there are limits to lab tests for such things. Elimination and reintroduction is the best way to find out if a food is a problem for you personally.

    Animal studies are required for marketing approval but really are not representative of human responses – every species is too different and studies introduce the test drug or food in ways that are very different from how humans ingest them (and with what else we ingest them). My cats can’t eat some things I can eat (kitty livers aren’t so efficient). People can also easily leap to wrong conclusions – the furor over aspartame started because a man died who a few years later would have clearly been recognized as a victim of a slow virus (prion) disease. His wife thought it was the aspartame, the coroner had never seen such brain damage before. Then later Mad Cow’s Disease (a prion disease) hit and every coroner would have recognized the signs by then. I don’t like the taste of aspartame, but I’m not afraid of it turning my brain to sponge. But if you do get reactions to aspartame, look up other foods high in glutamate/glutamic acids and check out others on the list. You may be sensitive to the levels of that particular amino acid in free form. If you can’t tolerate MSG (which is just monosodium glutamate), you likely can’t tolerate aspartame either.

    If you do track down an offender, check out foods in the same food family. Sometimes people react to food families, sometimes to just individual members. But take animal studies with a huge bucket of salt. I know people are anxious to avoid potential carcinogens, but there are a lot of false positives in such studies as well as false negatives. It’s an extremely complicated issue. Better to focus on boosting your immune system so it works the way it’s supposed to work, keeping tumor formation and pathogens (both inevitable) under control.

  47. I’m in the UK and am interested to read about the other effects of Carageenan. I suffer with cluster headaches and whilst these can’t be prevented in a bout, they can be triggered by certain substances – it turned out Carageenan was one of these such substances, and having gone dairy free for health reasons I was ingesting it daily!!! (Even MacDonalds fries contained it????). I switched to Rice Milk which was the only non-dairy milk at the time without carrageenan and reintroduced some dairy where necessary.
    The interesting fact here is that Carageenan seems to have quietly been removed from most products in the UK (I stumbled on your site trying to find out why). MacDonalds UK no longer list it as an ingredient and most of the soft chesses / soya products use alternatives now. I’m just wondering what else the food industry discovered for them to remove it without any fuss being raised in this country.

    • They might not have discovered anything new. But if people are worried about an ingredient (whether or not the concern is justified)- they will remove the ingredient just to avoid bad publicity. They add ingredients for the same reason, as a marketing gimmick. Or add labels, such as “Gluten Free!” on products that have never contained gluten and never would be imagined to contain gluten. I expect to find tiny “gluten free” labels on apples and oranges any day now…. But enough people like to avoid gluten entirely or partially nowadays that it’s become a selling point.

      I don’t think problems with carageenan have become widespread enough for them to worry about losing customers because some can’t tolerate it. There are always people who can’t eat their products because of allergies/intolerances or religious/ethical beliefs. Although usually higher exposure is more likely to trigger allergies/intolerances. That’s why the major allergens vary in different countries. We’re inundated with soy and corn in everything here in the U.S., so they are at the top of our common allergen list along with peanuts and wheat and dairy and egg. Our labels now mention if the major allergens are in the ingredients, so you will see “contains soy and egg”, for example, in bigger letters after the full ingredient list. So if more people are reacting to carageenan, it is likely due to increased exposure. Just another reason to eat a variety of mostly simple foods, avoiding eating the same types over and over.

  48. The worst dis-eases we all suffer from is is convenience-itis, and trust-ophobia. We want everything now, and we trust government agencies to protect us. Duh!! stop buying foods, from companies that do not care about you concerns. Period!

  49. Hi, I’m in a little bit of a pickle, I have been recently been diagnosed with Thyroid and Adrenal fatigue issues. I’m not sure if the Thyroid is autoimmune, my doc did not specify, but he felt my TSH was slightly elevated and I have another autoimmune condition…. so I am guessing it’s possible. I am normally quite careful with supplements as my AI is triggered by yeast/mold/fungi (amongst other things). And I keep finding new and interesting versions of these in diff things from B-vit to, most lately, my adrenal support complex. I have also just listened to a Robb Wolf podcast where it was mentioned how iodine supplementation is possibly bad – if my thyroid issues are autoimmune…. which led me to read up on the kelp and seaweed in my thyroid sup. I now discover it has ‘Irish Moss’ which seems to be a form of carrageenan. Do I need to stop taking my thyroid glandular support because I might be aggravating my AI via messing up my gut (which I’m trying so hard to heal) and can this be aggravating my insomnia, which is off the charts since starting my thyroid/adrenal/testosterone protocol.
    Thanks!!!
    P.S I’m in South Africa, so have very limited access to US suppliments or meds.

  50. I worked in pharmaceutical research in the 70s and 80s. We injected rats with carrageenan to cause arthritis. Their legs would swell 50-70%. We measured the change, then looked for a compound that would prevent the inflammatory response. About 18 months ago, I remembered this and stopped eating almond milk and ice cream with carrageenan. The large, hard arthritic bump on my knuckle disappeared. It took about 3 months to disappear. I ate ice cream with carrageenan as a challenge, and my finger throbbed for about a day. Haven’t eaten it or had a problem since. I can’t give you a study, but it was standard practice to use it as an inflammatory agent in the lab.

  51. Was at the store today. Now I can add buttermilk and heavy cream to the list of items off my diet because of carrageenan. 🙁 What’s left?? Plain old milk seems to be the ONLY dairy product left without this additive!

    • trader Joes organic sour cream has no carrageenan in it, I travel from Canada to US just for this. Costco ice cream had none but it has disappeared from the shelves. The only ice cream I buy is Haagen Daz as it doesn’t have any. I have invested in an ice cream maker as my kids like fancy ice cream and it’s too expensive to buy at nearly $8 for a small tub.
      Making every thing ourselves is the only answer. Remember every time you shop you are voting with your dollar, don’t but processed food.

  52. Carageenan–this additive presents a life threatening response after ingesting. The esophagus spasms and constricts, for as long as 13 hrs after consumption, mimicking heart attack systems. Additionally, mucus thickens , blocking the airway, and can only be relieved after vomiting. This requires an epipen on hand at all times. Eating out is quite challenging. Deli meats are thickened with carrageenan, as are frozen “healthy” meals. Most diary products, even the organic ones, contain it as well. This includes refrigerated Starbucks seasonal products, ice cream cones, even soups. **a warning should be included on labels in light of the fact that seaweed is used in some carrageenan. I’m allergic to seaweed and shellfish. Those without this knowledge could unknowingly consume products that could result in a life threatening event.

  53. 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!)

    • The stabilizers are used in place of traditional ingredients for various reasons. Some stabilizers are more effective than traditional ingredients and reduce the bulk of the food (xanthan gum has more thickening power per gram than flour or corn starch), others are cheaper than the traditional ingredient, and some are safer, healthier, or tastier than the traditional ingredients.
      I’m sorry that you experience painful repercussions from eating certain emulsifying/thickening agents, but most people don’t have the same acute reaction to these chemicals. I can’t imagine trying to eat low-calorie foods while avoiding all of the ingredients which you have reactions to (I like to eat rather large portions so I eat low-cal to compensate….. like, seriously low-cal… I don’t eat grains, flour, dairy [except light and fit greek yogurt… I have cravings for the stuff], nuts, beans, meat, anything with added sugar, anything with added oils, and sweets in general. Of course, I do have days where I splurge).

        • In my case JR, if I have any dairy products, my body becomes inflamed. I can barely walk. My joints ache. I’ve experimented many times, and it always is the same. I think I have a problem digesting the casein in dairy. Cheese is the worst for me because of it’s concentrated casein. That’s why I have to use alternatives, otherwise, I feel horrible.

      • I’m not “most people” – I’m me, and I have the same symptoms given in the original letter in this chain when I ingest carrageenan or MSG (seaweed is seaweed). My abdominal distress includes simultaneous nausea and/or vomiting, “projectile” diarrhea, and excruciating pain, with lesser repeats, lasting up to 3 hours and leaving me limp, exhausted, and no good for the duration – debilitating, in short. Although I need to restrict fats and calories for cholesterol and weight reasons, I cannot now buy any “lite” groceries or many regular products or eat in any but the most chef-proud (i.e., expensive) restaurants – am now having to cook everything from scratch out of raw materials, after carefully reading any labels. I’m sure long-term effects like cancer are overriding to most scientists and politicians, but the short-term is just as much a reason to ban both of these substances for food use, and I WISH TO #$#!!?* THEY’D GET ON WITH IT! I figured out MSG in 1980 – 45 years is enough.

  54. 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! 🙂

  55. 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.

    • Carrageenan use in all foods should be prohibited. Write to your U.S. legislators to get the FDA to ban use in foods. The FDA only considers limited, low-level use in qualifying any food or personal use product as “safe for human consumption” or use. This is absurd. Chronic intake must be considered.

      Imaging living in a place with one of the world’s largest carrageenan factories supplying a large number of jobs and paying the highest taxes.

    • Some time ago, after reading about carrageenan, I made the same decision to make my own ice cream, even though I haven’t had any problems I can identify as a direct result of ingesting it. In my self-pride at taking that action, I neglected to carefully check the labels of the ingredients. When I got home, I discovered that the heavy cream that was called for in the recipe contained carrageenan! Next time I become ambitious, I’ll search more carefully for a different recipe!! (Just a caveat note!)

      • Yes I’ve become ambitious with my ice coffees too lol I no longer take them with soy and with just a little sugar. I didn’t realize ice cream was like that but due to my lactose intolerance i have sorbet. Should I be worried with sorbet?

        Suzie

      • Most dairy products contain it, so you need to read labels carefully. My recipe calls for whole milk and heavy cream. I use whole milk, but my local store carries light cream, which doesn’t contain it. If you can’t find light cream, you can use half-and-half. It works just as well.

  56. 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

  57. 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.

    • 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?

    • Pola, I have had an experience similar to yours. I never really thought about it much before, but now that I’m thinking about it, since I cut carrageenan out of my diet I have not had any episodes of acid reflux (which I used to get all the time in the middle of the night), or ocular migraines/migraines (which I also used to suffer from on a semi-regular basis.) I went to several doctors about the ocular migraines and was told they have no idea what causes them, and no way to treat them, so I had to learn to live with them. I think I can, now!

  58. 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!

  59. 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.

    • 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.

      • 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.

    • Silk chocolate almond milk does not contain carageenan. It’s in the refrigerator section in most grocery stores. Tour my knowledge, none of the silk almond minks contain carageenan unless they’ve changed that recently.

      • Yes, there are one or two varieties of SIlk that do not contain carrageenan. (If they can make those without it, why not ALL of them??) But the chocolate almond milk is not that great. It really doesn’t taste like chocolate milk, and I didn’t finish the carton before discarding it. I may try the cocoa or chocolate bar suggestions.
        Does anyone remember PDQ? It had the consistency and easy dissolving in milk quality of Ovaltine, but a wonderful chocolate flavor. I’d give an arm for a jar of that these days.

  60. 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

  61. 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.
    [email protected]

    • 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.

  62. 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?

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

    • 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.

  64. 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!

    • Regarding Aspartame, I read where they believed it may cause brain lesions that mimic signs of Altzheimers. Both my parents, in an effort to lose weight, used to consume gallons of aspartame-laden diet drinks all the time, thinking they were ok because they were zero calorie. Both my parents suffered dementia-like symptoms, which may or may not have been caused by their drinks, but I will always wonder. My husband is diabetic and I refused to buy him any diet sodas containing any of these artificial sweeteners. Instead I will only buy drinks that are sweetened with Stevia. It’s an all-natural sweetener. I am trying to start growing my own stevia plants as well, so we can make our own no-calorie sweetener.

  65. 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

    • You don’t think this had anything to do with caffeine?
      Ever drink coffee on on an empty stomach?

      Dizziness, stomach cramps.

  66. 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.

    • 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.

  67. 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.

  68. 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.

    • 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!

    • 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.

      • Organic Valley 2% chocolate milk (1/2 gal.) does not contain carageenan. It’s the only chocolate milk I will let my children drink.
        Silk chocolate almond milk doesn’t have carageenan in it either.

  69. 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…

    • Did you ever find out what the problem was, Roger? I have coronary micro vascular disease and had the same type symptoms as you.

  70. 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.

  71. 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

    • 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!

  72. 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

  73. 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!

  74. 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.

    • 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.

      • 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.

        • 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.

        • Oh, best avoid eggs and bananas then, since they contain formaldehyde and all. Seriously, have you even checked the naturally occurring substances in organic food? And no self-respecting manufacturer would ever use propylene glycol. What they use is propylene glycol alginate, an ester of alginic acid, which is derived from kelp. First some research, then some honesty, please.

    • 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.

    • 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.

    • 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!

    • James, I’m so sorry to read your post and discover that Almond Breeze is unwilling to consider removing or replacing the carrageenan in the almond and coconut milks you produce. I have been drinking several boxes of various varieties of the unsweetened ones for years, and I thought that perhaps that was okay if they didn’t contain the “bad” form of carrageenan, but I just read several recent studies which show that carrageenan promotes both insulin resistance and diabetes. I am dealing with the former, and my boyfriend has the latter. We will immediately be returning all our unopened boxes and purchasing a different brand that does not contain carrageenan. I’m very sorry I will no longer be able to enjoy Almond Breeze — especially the unsweetened chocolate almond milk, which is hard to replace — but my health is just much more important than my palette.

  75. 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.

    • 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!

  76. 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.

  77. 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.

  78. 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!

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

  80. 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.

  81. 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.

    • 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.

      • 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.

  82. 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.

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

    • 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.

  84. 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.

  85. 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…

    • 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!

  86. 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!

    • 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.

  87. 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.

  88. 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!

  89. 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!

  90. 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

  91. 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?

    • 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.

  92. 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.

  93. 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!

  94. 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

  95. 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.

  96. 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.

  97. 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?

    • 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.

    • 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.

      • 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. : )

    • 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.

  98. 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.

  99. 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

  100. 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.

    • 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!

      • 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.

    • 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.

  101. 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!

    • 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.

      • 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.

  102. 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?

    • 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.

  103. 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?

  104. “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?

    • 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.

    • 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?

    • 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….

  105. 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!

    • 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.

        • 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.

  106. 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.

    • 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 🙂

    • 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.

  107. 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.

  108. 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.

  109. 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.

    • 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!

  110. 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!

  111. 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!

  112. 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.

  113. 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.

    • 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).

  114. 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!

    • 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.

  115. 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.

    • 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

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

      • 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.

        • 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.

  116. 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!

  117. 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.

  118. 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).

  119. 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.

    • 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.

    • 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.

  120. 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.

  121. 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.

  122. 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.

    • 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.

    • 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.

  123. 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.

    • 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.

      • 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!

  124. 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.

    • 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.

    • 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.

      • 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.

      • 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…

    • 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.

  125. 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.

    • 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.

    • 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.

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

        • 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.

          • 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.

          • 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)

          • 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.

        • 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.

      • 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?

    • 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!

      • you are shopping with ingredient BLINDERS on!

        ALL cocoa (and chocolate) are full of HEAVY METALS. they are all made in africa and are polluted. if you could only KNOW the health standards of the average african laborer. hah!
        now that is NOT some new-agey idea or controversial ingredient. It is 100% certainly bad for EVERY mammal and that’s been know for a long time.
        they screw up brains and nerve cells, cause permanent brain damage.

    • 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!!

    • 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.

  126. 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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