GUT WRENCHING! Tell FDA to remove carrageenan from all food and the NOSB to vote to remove it from organic food


Rates of digestive diseases are rising—ranging from widespread digestive discomfort (“belly bloat,” “spastic colon,” Irritable Bowel Syndrome) to serious and sometimes life-threatening diseases such as ulcerative colitis and colon cancer.

For decades, scientists conducting laboratory animal experiments using the common food additive carrageenan have found higher rates of gastrointestinal inflammation, colitis-like disease, and even colon cancer.

The National Organic Standards Board (NOSB) will be voting this fall on whether or not to continue to allow carrageenan in organic food at their semi-annual meeting in St. Louis, Missouri, November 16-18. The Cornucopia Institute will be there to highlight the public research that the carrageenan industry lobby is attempting to discredit.

Carrageenan can be found in many foods, even foods labeled “natural” and “organic.” It is widely used in dairy products (chocolate milk, whipping cream, ice cream, nonfat sour cream), frozen dinners, dairy alternatives (soy milk, coconut milk, almond milk), prepared poultry and cold cuts, nutritional drinks, and even infant formula.

Carrageenan is a cheap and convenient food additive for the food industry, and selling carrageenan is a profitable enterprise for a handful of chemical corporations. For decades, these companies have spread misinformation—often, outright lies—about carrageenan’s safety. They have also funded smear campaigns against researchers that publish on the harmful effects of ingesting food-grade carrageenan.

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has been more than willing to listen to the industry-sponsored “scientists” rather than to public researchers, some of whom are funded by the National Institutes of Health. That’s right: the FDA rejected a citizen petition from the nation’s preeminent, publicly-funded scientist and carrageenan expert, who was formally requesting that carrageenan be removed from our food supply. The last time carrageenan was up for review, The National Organic Standards Board voted to authorize its continued use in organic food — let’s not allow that to happen again.

Sign the petition below, and let the FDA and NOSB know that it’s time to act in the interest of our health and safety. Carrageenan is a dangerous food additive, and should be removed from the list of allowed additives in organic foods, and in all food! We will hand carry this petition to the NOSB meeting on November 16 to support the vote to remove carrageenan from certified organic foods. We will also mail the petition to the FDA to call for removing carrageenan from all food.


Dear Dr. Robert M. Califf, FDA Commissioner:

The FDA is responsible for protecting public health by assuring the safety of our nation’s food supply. When a body of publicly funded/independent scientific literature points to harm from consuming a common, widely used, yet unnecessary food ingredient, the FDA should act in the interest of public health.

Yet in the case of carrageenan, an ingredient found in a wide variety of food products, the FDA sided with the food industry by ignoring the vast body of publicly funded scientific literature pointing to serious harm from consuming food-grade carrageenan. Rather than act on the citizen petition by the nation’s preeminent publicly funded expert on food-grade carrageenan, the FDA denied the request to remove carrageenan from our food supply.

A Chicago Tribune investigative journalist challenged the FDA to show her a single scientific study—not funded by the carrageenan industry—that indicates carrageenan is safe. As reported in the Tribune: “They agreed to look but provided no examples after three weeks.”

Meanwhile, a team of scientists at the University of Illinois Medical School has published over a dozen peer-reviewed scientific studies indicating that food-grade carrageenan leads to gastrointestinal inflammation and disease.
Laboratory animal studies have even identified food-grade carrageenan as a promoter of colon tumors.

Rather than consider these scientific studies, most of which have been funded by the National Institutes of Health, the FDA pointed to poorly conducted corporate-funded studies that claim carrageenan is safe. This is yet another example of industry lobbying power in Washington, with a government agency unwilling to take action to protect American public health.
We urge the FDA to revoke the regulations permitting the use of carrageenan.

[Your name — listed here along with others who signed the petition]

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