"Food can be a force that brings people together to mobilize change" graphic with an image of a meal

Advocating for kids with an allergy to carrageenan

By Michele Marchetti

Food Service Director Amanda Warren first discovered carrageenan on the cartons of strawberry milk served to kids in her school lunch program. After some digging, she was quickly inspired to remove the milk from the menu.

Four years later, carrageenan’s problematic nature has become personal.

“I suffer from Alpha-Gal allergy,” she wrote on the back of Cornucopia’s carrageenan proxy.

Alpha-Gal syndrome or AGS is a tick-induced allergy to red meat. Although carrageenan is derived from seaweed and not mammals, it contains the same allergen.

“The research on Alpha Gal is so new that many of us are left on our own to piece it all together,” Warren wrote, addressing the CEO of Costco. “We should be afforded the right to safe foods. If this was your loved one at risk, I know you would take action.”

Warren isn’t waiting for industry to make changes on their own. Taking matters into her own hands to protect herself and the Staunton, Virginia kids she’s charged with nourishing, Warren highlighted Cornucopia’s carrageenan research in an industry publication for school nutrition employees.

She also partnered with the child advocacy group Life Time Foundation to add carrageenan and mammal byproducts to a software program with a searchable list of harmful ingredients and allergens in school foods. And she made comments to the federal Tick-Borne Disease Working Group that reports to Congress, advocating for changes in child nutrition standards, including adding carrageenan as an ingredient of concern.

“Food can be a force that brings people together to mobilize change,” Warren said in her testimony.

It’s time that the USDA, Costco, and the entire food industry get the message.

The Cornucopia Institute has been tracking research on the inflammatory effects of carrageenan for nearly a decade. Learn more about our research and advocacy work by visiting cornucopia.org/carrageenan.

This article was previously published in the summer issue of the Cultivator, Cornucopia’s quarterly newsletter. Donate today to protect organic integrity and receive our fall issue in print.

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