Food for Thought: Carrageenan is everywhere, but may not be for everyone

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Seaweed. Red algae. The ocean’s harvest also known as carrageenan.

Some folks, however, would rather not see the seaweed come ashore.

We use carrageenan for coughs, bronchitis, tuberculosis, and intestinal problems. It’s also used as a thickening agent, for weight loss, and for pain reduction and inflammation.

It’s in toothpaste and mouthwash. And you’ll find it in dairy products, like milk and ice cream.

Heck, it’s even in the food you feed your furry friends, your pets.

So, what’s all the fuss?

On one side you have the food police saying carrageenan may cause severe stomach and intestinal problem.

On the other side are the World Health Organization and the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations who say carrageenan is safe for humans, even infant humans who drink it in their baby formula.

And the Food and Drug Administration says there’s no problem with carrageenan when used under certain conditions, and when properly labeled.

But a report from the non-profit Cornucopia Institute says folks who consume carrageenan regularly run the risk for constant inflammation linked to more than 100 diseases, including cancer.

And, in a letter to the F-D-A, Cornucopia pointed out that some of the studies used to support the F-D-A claim that Carregeena is safe “came from industry-associated or industry-funded research.”

The folks at White Wave Foods are removing carrageenan from its Horizon milks and Silk beverages because customer complained after drinking the supposedly healthy products containing carrageenan.

So, what do you do? That’s up to you, but if you have any doubts, you probably should check the label, just to be safe. And that’s also some food for thought.