Carrageenan is a common food additive extracted from red seaweed. For the past four decades, scientists have warned that the use of carrageenan in food is not safe. Animal studies have repeatedly shown that food-grade carrageenan causes gastrointestinal inflammation and higher rates of intestinal lesions, ulcerations, and even malignant tumors.
Despite the evidence showing the risks in eating carrageenan, it’s still approved for use in organic food where it’s most often used as a stabilizer.
It’s an ingredient in many dairy products including ice cream, cheese, yogurt, sour cream, whipping cream and chocolate milk. You’ll also find it in nondairy milks including soy, almond, coconut and rice milk. Processed lunchmeats like chicken and turkey can contain carrageenan, and it’s often also found in canned soups, frozen dinners and frozen pizzas.
Where is carrageenan not found?
Well, first off, it’s not in most minimally processed foods. So if you can make something yourself, you greatly reduce your risk of exposure to carrageenan. Still, be on the look out for seemingly simple ingredients such as milk, sour cream or yogurt. The USDA organic seal is not protection from carrageenan.
Buyer beware! If you’re choosing nondairy milks due to allergy or sensitivities to dairy, you may be jeopardizing your digestive health if carrageenan is among the ingredients.
Shocked to find that so many organic foods contained carrageenan, we did a lot of digging to identify products and brands that avoid it. We put together a comprehensive shopping guide that gives you a detailed look at the organic products that contain carrageenan and those alternatives that do not.
If you’re looking to avoid this toxic food additive, we know how you feel. Check out our complete Shopping Guide to Avoid Organic Foods with Carrageenan, and read our full report, “Carrageenan: How a Natural Food Additive is Making Us Sick”.