March 2013


  • Sign the FDA petition to remove carrageenan from the food supply
  • Read The Cornucopia Institute’s full report on the dangers of carrageenan
  • Protect yourself and your family with Cornucopia’s carrageenan buying guide
  • Many individuals experience significant improvements in their gastrointestinal health after cutting carrageenan out of their diet. If your health improved after eliminating carrageenan from your diet, please let us know about it by filling out a questionnaire developed in collaboration with medical researchers.

Research links the controversial food ingredient carrageenan to gastrointestinal inflammation, including higher rates of colon cancer, in laboratory animals.

Yet it is still found in many foods, including some certified organic foods.

Cornucopia’s report, Carrageenan: How a “Natural” Food Additive is Making Us Sick, compiles scientific studies pointing to harm from consuming food-grade carrageenan.

Why is Carrageenan in Organic Food?

At the USDA’s National Organic Standards Board meeting in May 2012, Dr. Joanne Tobacman, a physician-scientist at the University of Illinois College of Medicine and the nation’s foremost independent expert on carrageenan, presented her research and urged the NOSB to remove carrageenan from organic foods.

The carrageenan trade lobby group fought back hard, and found allies in companies like Group Danone (Stonyfield), CROPP (Organic Valley), Dean Foods (Horizon and Silk), Hain Celestial (Earth’s Best, Rice Dream and Westsoy) and Smucker’s (Santa Cruz Organics and R.W. Knudsen).

Their lobbyists convinced enough corporate-friendly NOSB members, including employees of Whole Foods, Organic Valley and Driscoll’s, to ignore the disturbing findings of dozens of independently funded and peer-reviewed studies, including several that found higher rates of colon cancer in lab animals given a diet containing food-grade carrageenan.

For decades, most organic food companies considered the seaweed-based “natural” food additive to be safe. The carrageenan industry lobby group had been effective in suppressing research. But since May 2012, no one in the organic industry can claim that they are not aware of disturbing research tying the food additive to serious potential health problems.

Choose Organic Products Wisely

Cornucopia developed a guide to help consumers avoid foods with carrageenan.

Some companies, like Tofu Shop Specialty Foods and Straus Family Creamery, unlike many of their competitors, have always offered foods without carrageenan.

Since our report was published, several companies, including Julie’s Ice Cream and Annie’s, have removed carrageenan from their product lines. So Delicious and Eden Foods have committed to removing it from all products, having reformulated many already.

Kalona Supernatural, Clover Stornetta, Stonyfield Farm, Orgain and Natural By Nature have committed to removing carrageenan from their product lines as well.

Take Action – Protect Your Health

Given its effect on gastrointestinal inflammation, Cornucopia urges anyone suffering from gastrointestinal symptoms (irritable bowel syndrome/IBS, spastic colon, inflammatory bowel disease, chronic diarrhea, etc.) to consider completely eliminating carrageenan from the diet to determine if carrageenan was a factor in causing the symptoms.

If you have eliminated carrageenan from your diet and have found relief from gastrointestinal symptoms, please let us know the results by filling out a questionnaire developed in collaboration with medical researchers.

Your participation in this questionnaire will help scientists better understand the severity and degree of carrageenan-related gastrointestinal disease in the general population. Experimenting with a carrageenan-free diet has already resolved uncomfortable conditions for many, so if you suffer from gastrointestinal symptoms, cutting out carrageenan is certainly worth a try.

Cornucopia is Taking Action Too

On March 15, 2013, The Cornucopia Institute sent a letter to Dr. Margaret Hamburg, FDA Commissioner, requesting that the agency reconsider their June 2012 decision to deny the citizen petition by Dr. Joanne Tobacman, which requested the removal of carrageenan from the FDA’s list of approved food additives.