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Why You Should Not Eat Foods that Contain the Ingredient Carrageenan

Updated on September 18, 2013

Silk soymilk

Silk brand soymilk contains Carrageenan
Silk brand soymilk contains Carrageenan | Source

Caramel Dessert Topping

Caramel Dessert topping containing Carrageenan
Caramel Dessert topping containing Carrageenan | Source

Foods That Could Contain Carrageenan

  • Baby formula
  • Cottage cheese
  • Diet sodas
  • Frosting mixes
  • Hershey's Chocolate
  • Ice cream and Sherbet
  • Jams and Jellies
  • Liquid Coffee Creamer
  • NesQuik Liquid Chocolate Milk
  • Oscar Meyer Lunch Meats
  • Pet food
  • Pie fillings
  • Processed cheese
  • Processed meats
  • Processed fish
  • Puddings (without dairy)
  • Purity Brand Chocolate Milk
  • Silk brand soy milk
  • Snickers Ice Cream bars
  • TruMoo Chocolate Milk
  • Yogurts

Nesquik Vending Machine


A Real Life Story

One couple's child had an undiagnosed metabolic disorder as an infant, resulting in stunted growth. Doctors performed emergency surgery on the child, inserting a G-tube into his stomach. They force fed the baby formula which happened to contain Carrageenan.

According to the parents: "The more they insisted we pump through him, the sicker he became, the more mucous his body produced, and he nearly died. Rapid improvement occurred when we stopped feeding him the formula under a new doctor’s care, who wanted him breastfed and self-selecting his diet (all whole foods) while his gut healed. It was then we started looking into food additives, most of which trigger our son’s gastro-reflex issues. After complete avoidance of food containing Carrageenan, he quickly recovered.”

Story from TotalHealthMagazine by Dr. Gloria Gilbere, Dahorn, PHD

Harmful Side Effects of Carrageenan

You May Be Eating Dangerous Things

Very recently, I reached into the freeze and pulled out an Ice Cream Snickers bar. As I was about to eat it, I notice one ingredient on the label: Carrageenan.

After doing research on the ingredient Carrageenan, I may never buy Snickers Ice Cream bars again.

Did you know Carrageenan is also found in Oscar Meyer lunch meats?

The next time you go to the grocery, look at the label. I just recently noticed that Carrageenan was in the Oscar Meyer brand ham and turkey lunch meats. Was this meat originally a liquid, and then turned into a solid before sliced? It makes me think twice before buying processed lunch meats.

That's because I don't need to de-ice my internal organs.

Carrageenan is also used to de-ice planes on the runway, which I have experienced as well, as I sat in the Minneapolis airport.

When it comes to food, they say "ignorance is bliss" -- but once you learn of the chemicals going into your body, only an ignorant person would continue to put toxic things into their body.

How is it Harvested in Nature?

Carrageenan is taken from red seaweed with a chemical process using an alkali solvent.

In nature, Carrageenan is considered healthy for you, and safe to eat. That is, if you eat it naturally in red seaweed. But after chemical extraction, it is considered harmful to consume.

Why do they put Carrageenan in Foods?

Carrageenan is used as a food thickener, and it is also used to de-ice planes sitting on a runway.

It is often used in processing foods because it is low-calorie, and gives food a thicker texture. The only downside is that it can cause digestive problems, diarrhea, and has other harmful side effects (more details in the next section).

Non-food uses of Carrageenan: pharmaceutical products, cosmetic products, pesticides, toothpaste, deodorizers, shampoos, & air fresheners.

What does Carrageenan do to the Body?

Carrageenan is linked to a variety of gastrointestinal disorders, as it coats the stomach with a thick layer (think Honey). Since carrageenan is also in soy products, a person could be having a reaction to the carrageenan, and mistake the reaction to be connected to soy.

One researcher is concerned it is linked to cancer. (More on that in the next section)

Resulting Symptoms: Carrageenan also glutamate production in the body, which increases thirst, headaches, and "hangover-like" symptoms.

What it does to little children is even worse:

In children, Carrageenan can increase temper, diarrhea (or loose bowels), and hyperactivity.

Commentary: This is particularly worrisome, since Carrageenan is in many ice cream products marketed to families with children.

Is Carrageenan Cause for Concern?

I'd say so.

Researchers* are concerned that high quantities of Carrageenan stored in the gut are linked to cancer, as they are already positive it contributes to digestive disorders.

*Research was conducted at the University of Iowa College of Medicine by Joanne Tobacman (MD).

Dr. Tobacman published her findings in the October 2012 issue of Environmental Health Perspectives.

Government Agencies are Not on Board

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in the U.S. still considers Carrageenan "safe" for human consumption "when used in the amount necessary as an emulsifier, stabilizer, or thickener in foods."

The National Organic Program (NOP) re-evaluated Carrageenan in 2008, and includes it on its list mainly due to the fact that it is "critical to organic production and handling operations."

The European Food Safety Authority stated "there is no evidence of any adverse effects in humans from exposure to food-grade Carrageenan, or that exposure to degraded Carrageenan from use of food-grade Carrageenan is occurring."

Are these government agencies really looking out for real people, or are they operating with political agendas?

Sources of Information on Carrageenan:

  1. Gilbere, DAHom, Gloria PhD. "Carrageenan Food Additive and Aircraft De-Icer." TotalHealth Magazine
  2. Carrageenan entry. Wikipedia
  3. Tobacman, Joanne. Environmental Health Perspectives. October 2012.

© 2013 zeke2100


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    • zeke2100 profile image

      zeke2100 2 years ago

      Thank you for pointing out this. The soy milk from Silk does.

    • Sharon McConnell profile image

      Sharon McConnell 2 years ago from Gilbert, Arizona

      Silk Almond Milk does not contain carrageenan.

    • zeke2100 profile image

      zeke2100 4 years ago

      You are very welcome. Thank you for reading and commenting.

    • CraftytotheCore profile image

      CraftytotheCore 4 years ago

      Wow! I learn so much on HP every day that I have never heard of, and this fits in to one of the top things I've learned about food.

      This hits home because I have two children and we are always trying to be careful about what they eat. I had never heard of this before! Thank you for posting this! Great article!

    • zeke2100 profile image

      zeke2100 4 years ago

      Glenn that is interesting about the history of arsenic in rice and the implications of it today. I bet that would make a great read in a Hub. Thanks for following up on it.

    • Glenn Stok profile image

      Glenn Stok 4 years ago from Long Island, NY

      Zachary, I'm back to let you know I finally found a non-dairy milk that does not have Carrageenan -- Rice Dream. The only problem is that Rice, itself, tends to have arsenic since it was used to control beetles on cotton fields in the past. And rice is grown today on many of those same fields in the USA. So I wonder how much arsenic might be in Rice Dream due to that. Seems that nothing in completely safe.

    • Pamela N Red profile image

      Pamela N Red 4 years ago from Oklahoma

      It's scary the things they put in food without our knowledge. I'm convinced that the increase of cancer is in part due to the chemicals they put in foods.

    • zeke2100 profile image

      zeke2100 4 years ago

      Let me know what you find.

    • Glenn Stok profile image

      Glenn Stok 4 years ago from Long Island, NY

      Zachary, I just came back to let you know that I had discovered the coconut milk I was using also has Carrageenan. So it's not only used in Soy milk. Looks like it's difficult to stay away from this chemical. Now I'm going to start researching to try to find a safe non-dairy milk product.

    • zeke2100 profile image

      zeke2100 4 years ago

      Thanks for reading, Glenn. We all need to be conscious about what we are putting into our bodies.

    • Glenn Stok profile image

      Glenn Stok 4 years ago from Long Island, NY

      This is important information. There are so many additives in our processed foods that are bad for us. I didn't know about Carrageenan, and I'm glad I discovered your Hub. I am going to watch out for it now.

      I started using soy milk recently when I discovered that I have an allergy to diary. Sometimes I had bought the Silk brand. I generally prefer Coconut Milk, but I can't find it all then time. I'll have to check if that contains Carrageenan too.

      Thanks for a great article with an important warning.