Since you may have read countless articles regarding carrageenan because it is one of the highly talked about additive in the entire food industry; talks have been conducted whether it’s good, bad for you, reasons to avoid it and explanations that it become confused with other harmful ingredients. In reality, we have used carrageenan in our food for decades, centuries even since it’s an effective stabilizer and thickener of certain foods. Currently, the FDA has rejected public demand to ban carrageenan, they backed up their denial with studies that confirmed carrageenan had no connections with the stated ‘negative effects.’
Why All the Talk?
Carrageenan is used in various products including chocolate, cheese, bread and jam. It’s basically just a stabilizer, especially for drinks that tend to separate when stored long enough; it has no nutritional value or does it enhance the product’s shelf like, taste or safety. Carrageenan is extracted from natural sources like red seaweed; acids or alkali are used on the seaweeds to extract the carrageenan.
When manufacturers use acid, the carrageenan is degraded to a lower molecular weight when compared to seaweeds process with alkali. The seaweed processed with alkali, since it high a higher molecular weight, is considered food grade. On the other hand, the one processed with acid is called the degraded carrageenan.
But according to some experts, regardless whether the carrageenan is food grade or degraded, it still presents health issues and is likely to cause inflammation. But we may never know it’s full effects on a person’s body through research since that is unethical and goes beyond everything that doctors stand for. If you have read some research and experimentation on animals, you’ll be shocked at the overall negative effects that carrageenan caused, but if you looked closely majority of the experimentations used the degraded kind.