Carrageenan: Carcinogen Allowed in Organic Food

by Sarah TheHealthyHomeEconomist

USDA Organic and carrageenan dangersWhy would the average consumer decide to switch to organic food?

Typical reasons include food of higher quality that is hopefully more nutritious although conventional produce grown locally and picked at the peak of ripeness would no doubt rival the nutrition of organic produce picked early and shipped long distances.

Consumers also generally assume that any food labeled as USDA Organic will not contain any dangerous ingredients or chemicals.  After all, buying certified organic food is still the only way to avoid genetically modified ingredients as GMOs are regularly slipped into healthfoods labeled as “natural” and even those containing organic ingredients but less than 70% organic overall.

Based on these assumptions, consumers would likely be surprised and even shocked to learn that a likely human carcinogen that triggers massive gastointestinal inflammation and symptoms in many people continues to be allowed by the National Organics Standards Board (NOSB) for inclusion on the list of ingredients permitted in certified organic food – food bearing the USDA Organic label!

This dangerous ingredient, carrageenan, which most consumers are unaware is lurking in so many of their beloved organic products, seems harmless enough at first glance.

Derived from seaweed, carrageenan is a highly processed food additive that has no nutritional function whatsoever.

What it does do is act as a fat replacer or stabilizer in certain types of dairy products, dairy substitutes like soy milk, coconut milk, hemp milk, almond milk, and other processed foods.

As you can see, buying lowfat is not a good idea and not just for the fact that you are losing the valuable whole fats that satiate and steady the blood sugar.  By opting for lowfat or alternative dairy products, consumers are choosing instead to consume a toxic additive that is a likely carcinogen!

Even Dr. Andrew Weil has been telling people about carrageenan dangers since 2002.  Carrageenan is so toxic and inflaming to the human digestive system that this food additive is formally classified by the International Agency for Research on Cancer (part of the World Health Organization) as a potential human carcinogen.  Scientists first discovered that carrageenan causes gut inflammation as far back as the 1960’s.  Inflammation is a very serious condition as it is a primary symptom in IBS, Crohn’s Disease, ulcerative colitis, and colon cancer as well as dozens of other diseases.

The hype from the carrageenan industry claims that “food grade” carrageenan is different from the low molecular weight, i.e., degraded carrageenan that is toxic to human cells.

This spin fails to mention that not a single sample of products containing carrageenan that were tested could be said to be free of the degraded form. Some samples contained as much as 25% low molecular weight carrageenan. This testing was conducted as part of a 2003 ruling by the European Commission’s Scientific Committee on Food which required that a maximum of 5% degraded carrageenan be contained in a processed food which includes the additive.

Another problem is that research available since the early 1980’s indicated that even food grade carrageenan is probably converted during the digestive process to the degraded, highly toxic form.   More recent research sponsored by the National Institutes of Health (NIH), pinpointed the exact metabolic process by which carrageenan triggers inflammation.   Shockingly, this biological event was found to mirror the way pathogenic bacteria such as salmonella wreak havoc in the gut.

The takeaway for consumers from this very discouraging NOSB ruling is to not take anything for granted just because a product is labeled USDA Organic.  It still could be extremely damaging to your health!

Avoiding lowfat dairy and processed dairy substitutes is a very wise course of action.  If you have a dairy allergy, learn to easily make healthy nondairy beverages at home that are free of carrageenan dangers!

Sarah, The Healthy Home Economist


Sources and More Information

The Cultivator, News from the Cornucopia Institute, Summer 2012

Why Almond Milk and Coconut Milk from the Store Should Be Avoided

Choose Another Pet Food if Yours Contains These Ingredients


Comments (152)


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  4. JoAnne T Walsh via Facebook July 29, 2014 at 12:19 am

    I have an instant reaction to this ingredient as well as xantham and guar gum…Carrageenan is in everything…including toothpaste…

  5. Lisa Vaught via Facebook July 28, 2014 at 4:41 pm

    It is amazing how hard it is to avoid! I can only find one whipping cream in my area that does not have it. I make a special trip to that store when I want to make ice cream or whipped cream. I wish organize retailers like Whole Foods would wake up and stop selling products with it.

  6. There is also another ingredient in organic processed food that I look for – natural flavors. Natural flavors, according to Dr. Russell Blaylock, is msg. And I have experienced headaches the day following consumption of these products. Gluten free products sold in health food stores can contain natural flavors too. Always check ingredient lists.

  7. Beth Smith via Facebook July 28, 2014 at 1:22 pm

    I just checked my label on the Organic unsweetened almond milk that I love from Whole Foods (365 Whole Foods brand). It does NOT contain carrageenan. :-)

  8. Tabitha Carman via Facebook July 28, 2014 at 12:49 pm

    Yes, this is an awful ingredient! We found out the hard way when my daughter switched from soy formula to soy milk.(She was on soy due to an issue with regular formula, and I was unable to nurse her due to a medical condition I had.) I chose the organic brand thinking it would be better for her. I was so wrong! She had explosive diarrhea for several nights in a row along with what appeared to be a hive on her leg. Nothing else in her diet or environment changed. I switched her back to the soy formula for a time and the hive disappeared but the diarrhea did not. When we switched her to flax milk, all that went away! She is now on carageenan free almond milk, and has been for almost a year. But her body rejects soy now (all forms, even oils and lecithin), so I have to watch her intake of it.
    This is definitely something that needs more publicity!

  9. Dana Gibson Musick via Facebook July 28, 2014 at 11:19 am

    I’ve noticed several products have replaced carageenan with algin. Can you tell me if algin is safe or is it just the same product under a different name?

  10. good article, it seems there are dangerous ingredients added to too many foods. many of these ingredients are like to do us harm in the long run. and it seems that companies are simply in for the money they make.

  11. Well, Certified organic products are allowed to include this ingredient. You’d be hard-pressed to find organic soy milk that doesn’t have carrageenan on the ingredient list, for example. Great blog!

  12. Carrageenan is awful. I would never knowingly eat it. It causes my stomach to swell up. It also gives me esophagitis. It’s getting harder and harder to find good food. The food companies don’t care about people’s health. I wish I lived on a farm.

  13. Unfortunately, this sensationalism is hitting the presses again. Carrageenan isn’t a carcinogen. If you look up the real toxicology studies you would see there’s no incidence of carcinogenicity. Unfortunately many people read sensational articles like this and make issue with something they don’t know about. I guess you should all start to eat nothing but fresh foods and spare yourself the carcinogens.

  14. Ashley Vecheruk July 25, 2013 at 8:07 pm

    So, I read your blog very very often, but have never commented. I’m in transition to almost full WAPF. At any rate, below is my email communication with Horizon after a stomach upset from their whipping cream. Its long, but just proves AGAIN their “wolves in sheep’s skin” mode of operation.
    To Horizon:

    Dear customer service rep assigned to read this comment or question. In the last two years I have made the switch to organic milk products and recently began purchasing a (mostly) local unhomogenized low-temp past. milk to make kefir with. You see, I’m lactose in tolerant, and until I began making Kefir, milk was not an option for me. Well, I got the BRILLIANT idea recently to make kefired cream. So, I scurried to the grocery store and bought some Horizon Whipping Cream. I am a label reader, but since I have always TRUSTED Horizon (up until this point), why should I bother? After all, its the best option short of going to a farm! (Or so I THOUGHT!) Anyhow, I was very disappointed when my yummy kefired cream gave me stomach upset just like “regular” milk products!! UGH! I pushed through and thought it was just the high fat content (even though I can down butter oil and coconut oil with NO ill effect.) Round two, I bought more Horizon cream yesterday and made another batch of kefired cream. It was delicious on top of my peaches by the way, but I am currently experiencing stomach upset. SO, I googled your product and read the label, only to find out you put Carrageenan in it! I had no idea what this was, so I looked it up. Here is my question, do YOU people even know what this is?? Sure, it makes products nice and thick and keeps liquids from separating, but do you KNOW that it has been linked to all KINDS of illnesses?? It is extremely difficult to digest and can cause symptoms similar to LACTOSE INTOLERANCE!!! You can’t imagine the anger at Horizon I had at the same time as the relief that I probably CAN after all consume kefired cream as LONG as it doesn’t have Carrageenan in it.

    I am ever sadened by the state of food in the western world today. I just want real food, people! GOOD nourishing food! And I want to make the compromise of getting that food conveniently at the grocery store when I don’t have time to truck it to a FARM 30 miles away for $10 a pint!! So, please, please please. Tell me WHY you put Carrageenan in your products? And will you, for one person, stop it?

    Thank you,
    Ashley from Texas
    From: Horizon Organic
    To: —————
    Sent: Thursday, July 25, 2013 6:00 PM
    Subject: Our Response to Your Email

    Thank you for your recent e-mail to Horizon Organic®. We appreciate your interest in our products.

    Carrageenan is a naturally occurring thickener derived from red seaweed. It is also known as chondrus extract or Irish moss. There are two different types of carrageenan, food-grade and degraded. Silk® Soymilk uses only food-grade carrageenan as a natural thickening agent. It is used in many other food products such as cottage and cream cheeses, pie fillings, chocolate products, ice cream and salad dressings, among others. Degraded carrageenan is never used as a food ingredient.

    Recently there has been some negative press on the safety of carrageenan. An article published in 2001 by Joanne Tobacman, a researcher at the University of Iowa, claimed that carrageenan may cause lesions or cancer in the gastro intestinal tract (Tobacman: Env. Health Per., Vol. 109, No. 10, Oct 2001). However, the Tobacman study was performed using only degraded carrageenan, not food-grade carrageenan, an entirely different substance.

    A review of existing scientific literature indicates that food-grade carrageenan is safe for all food uses. It is neither toxic nor carcinogenic. Horizon products contain only the highest quality food-grade carrageenan available. We will continue to use only natural and safe ingredients in all of our products.

    We hope this information is helpful.

    Adrian Machuca
    Consumer Response Representative

    I’m thankful for your quick response, but I’m not buying it. Not buying your product OR your story that it is “safe.” I understand that science is behind your company’s decisions to use this additive, but science is sometimes faulty, and more often, subsidized and biased.

    On a side note, as a former customer service representative and current teacher, please make sure your response matches the original inquiry. I was referencing Horizon Whipping Cream. No where did I mention Silk soymilk.


    • Hi Ashley,

      The problem is that carrageenan is basically sulfated galactose.

      That’s why people with lactose intolerance may have problems with it. The costumer service’s answer was indeed bad, because they should know that.

      However, carrageenan isn’t a carcinogen, in fact it has even anti-carcinogen properties! But maybe the animal gelatine indutry likes to finance studies that carrageenan is bad. That’s dirty science, nothing else.

      Carrageenan is in fact very healthy, at least for people without lactose intolerance. The anti-cancer property of seaweed is in fact one of the main reasons for the low cancer rate in Japan (altough they eat a lot of fish poisoned with a lot of carcinogens, they don’t get cancer!).

      And no, there are no “unhealthy” seaweed, that’s BS. All edible seaweed is very healthy, and it’s most funny that the less healthiest seaweed is called “Chlorella” and sold for very high prices to sick people, while the most healthiest seaweeds like Nori or Kombu or carrageean containing red algae are often not even mentioned by the health priests, that’s indeed stupid, the same as this article.

      For some reasons mothers give lactose to their babies. However as adults we don’t need milk anymore, it has too much calcium. But seewead is still one of the most important and healthiest nurriture for adult humans, usually containing more magnesium than calcium and a lot of sulfated polysaccharides. In fact we all should eat a lot algae, many diseases would just vanish.

      So now you can go to the food store and buy all products containing carrageenan as much as possible. And take some prebiotics against the lactose intolerance. Lactobacillus acidophilus should do it. 😉


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  16. Mary Ellen Chilcoat April 15, 2013 at 6:07 pm

    I found it in Food Lion’s store bakery’s croissants. Unfortunately after eating one and I had throat closing event. What worries me is the fact that it’s a natural/inexpensive product so it’s being used like crazy. I never know if it is in restaurant food or wines in addition to it being in a product that is used in another food product……how far back in the process are food producers required to go to identify ingredients. I ate a ceasar salad at Panera Bread and within 10 minutes my tongue swelled. Is it carrageenan or yet another additive…..

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  19. Sarah – Can you please ley me know your recommendation on Applegates Turkey Bologna? The package doesn’t appear to have any toxic ingredient, but of course I could be missing something. As much I try to stick with wholesome traditional foods, I’m in search of an alternative. Thank you so much!

  20. There is no valid reason to be against organic food. This article makes it sound like you’re telling people this ingredient is in all organic foods, making organic food sound bad, when this ingredient is in both organic and conventional foods. The USDA organic is allowing this, which is bad. That is what should be pointed out.

  21. I refuse to buy Dean or any Silk products. – Silk soymilk (owned by the nation’s largest dairy, Dean Foods, which has contributed $253,000 to the effort to kill Proposition 37)

  22. Whew! I immediately checked my almond milk and thank goodness it doesn’t have carrageenan on it. Am now checking it on my favorite cream cheese brands. Thanks for this article.

  23. I just looked at my hormel package of turkey breast and it’s in there too. it says no additives..all natural…ugh.. I”m so disappointed in everything now a days.

  24. I haven`t read through all the posts so not sure if someone already suggested this brand..but I did find one almond milk without this in it : Silk Pure Almond Milk – unsweetened or vanilla with 30/60 or 90 choices.

  25. I researched the dangers of carrageenan a about a year ago. My family and I were drinking so delicious coconut milk which contained carageenan. I did not buy it again after finding the dangers of consumption. We now make our own coconut milk which tasted soooo good and I do not have to worry about additives. It is great I can only imagine how many non-biodegradable milk containers we have saved by just filling up mason jars instead:)

  26. Sarah- I’m wondering about your thoughts on Xanthan gum which, I sadly noted, appears in some (high quality) coconut creams. I noticed a direct correlation between eating those coconut products and stomach upset…

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    Q. What is Carrageenan??

    A. Carrageenan is a naturally-occurring seaweed extract. It is widely used in foods and non-foods to improve texture and stability. Common uses include meat and poultry, dairy products, canned pet food, cosmetics and toothpaste.

    Q. Why the controversy?

    A. Self-appointed consumer watchdogs have produced numerous web pages filled with words condemning carrageenan as an unsafe food additive for human consumption. However, in 70+ years of carrageenan being used in processed foods, not a single substantiated claim of an acute or chronic disease has been reported as arising from carrageenan consumption. On a more science-based footing, food regulatory agencies in the US, the EU, and in the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization/World Health Organization (FAO/WHO) repeatedly review and continue to approve carrageenan as a safe food additive.

    Q. What has led up to this misrepresentation of the safety of an important food stabilizer, gelling agent and thickener?

    A. It clearly has to be attributed to the research of Dr. Joanne Tobacman, an Associate Prof at the University of Illinois in Chicago. She and a group of molecular biologists have accused carrageenan of being a potential inflammatory agent as a conclusion from laboratory experiments with cells of the digestive tract. It requires a lot of unproven assumptions to even suggest that consumption of carrageenan in the human diet causes inflammatory diseases of the digestive tract. The objectivity of the Chicago research is also flawed by the fact that Dr Tobacman has tried to have carrageenan declared an unsafe food additive on weak technical arguments that she broadcast widely a decade before the University of Chicago research began.

    Q. What brings poligeenan into a discussion of carrageenan?

    A. Poligeenan (“degraded carrageenan” in pre-1988 scientific and regulatory publications) is a possible carcinogen to humans; carrageenan is not. The only relationship between carrageenan and poligeenan is that the former is the starting material to make the latter. Poligeenan is not a component of carrageenan and cannot be produced in the digestive tract from carrageenan-containing foods.

    Q. What are the differences between poligeenan and carrageenan?

    A. The production process for poligeenan requires treating carrageenan with strong acid at high temp (about that of boiling water) for 6 hours or more. These severe processing conditions convert the long chains of carrageenan to much shorter ones: ten to one hundred times shorter. In scientific terms the molecular weight of poligeenan is 10,000 to 20,000; whereas that of carrageenan is 200,000 to 800,000. Concern has been raised about the amount of material in carrageenan with molecular weight less than 50,000. The actual amount (well under 1%) cannot even be detected accurately with current technology. Certainly it presents no threat to human health.

    Q. What is the importance of these molecular weight differences?

    A. Poligeenan contains a fraction of material low enough in molecular weight that it can penetrate the walls of the digestive tract and enter the blood stream. The molecular weight of carrageenan is high enough that this penetration is impossible. Animal feeding studies starting in the 1960s have demonstrated that once the low molecular weight fraction of poligeenan enters the blood stream in large enough amounts, pre-cancerous lesions begin to form. These lesions are not observed in animals fed with a food containing carrageenan.

    Q. Does carrageenan get absorbed in the digestive track?

    A. Carrageenan passes through the digestive system intact, much like food fiber. In fact, carrageenan is a combination of soluble and insoluble nutritional fiber, though its use level in foods is so low as not to be a significant source of fiber in the diet.

    Carrageenan has been proven completely safe for consumption. Poligeenan is not a component of carrageenan.

    Closing Remarks
    The consumer watchdogs with their blogs and websites would do far more service to consumers by researching their sources and present only what can be substantiated by good science. Unfortunately we are in an era of media frenzy that rewards controversy.

    • I don’t think any of us is in a frenzy nor do most of us pay attention to things that are a trend. I personally was eating a whole foods diet, long before there was a name for it. Smoothies are not a new trend either. In fact, many things are just reintroduced from earlier decades/times.
      Thank you for posting this information. I’ll still have to say no to carageenan as it’s still not a natural product to me, causes me severe migraines which I no longer have, and I still have yet to see a full informative article on the exact processing of this product. I don’t think it’s used in it’s natural state hence why so many of us object to it. Many of us prefer our foods either raw, or as close to it’s natural state as possible. For example, milk. I prefer it in it’s natural raw state. Once it’s been through a “process” such as pasteurization, it’s no longer the original product of where it started, and it is no longer beneficial nor contributing anything I need in my diet to stay healthy. So, no matter what studies have been done, what other countries do, and what agencies have approved this product, I still feel it’s not a product I need to add to my food.

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  32. I wrote to Organic Valley regarding their PASTURED Heavy Whipping Cream and how disappointed I was that it had Carrageenan in it. Following is their response for those who are interested. In the meantime, I have changed to Kalona Supernatural organic whipping cream –

    Response (Nancy Bruland) – 09/13/2012 02:45 PM
    Dear Rachel,

    Thank you for contacting Organic Valley.

    For quite some time we’ve been actively seeking to reformulate our ultra-pasteurized heavy whipping cream, chocolate milk, eggnog and soy milks in order to eliminate the need for carrageenan. Please note that our traditionally pasteurized heavy whipping cream has always been produced without carrageenan.

    We want to let you know that we’re working very hard on the reformulation process and that we’ve engaged this effort not only because consumers want simpler foods with less ingredients, but because it fits with our overall philosophy of producing food the most wholesome way possible.

    Thank you again for your comments. Please be assured that we hear you and hope to give you what you desire very soon!


    The Consumer Relations Team
    CROPP Cooperative
    Organic Valley/Organic Prairie Brands

  33. I was diagnosed last fall with allergy to carrageenan after ten yrs of digestive issues. I don’t think this is a cure-all for me but avoiding it has gone a long way in preventing daily facial and lip/gum swelling along with some digestive problems. A few months ago, I was shocked that I swelled after eating a crossiant purchased at a chain food store and sure enough, the next morning I read the ingredients – there it was. Also, certain brands of toothpaste contain it. I am trying to research if a “product” has low or no-fat milk as an ingredient, do the ingredients of the “product” have to mention if carrageenan was used in creating the low or no-fat milk used in product. For example if I buy Lact-aid milk and it’s 2% not whole milk. Anyone know?

  34. Thanks for this subject. I stopped all dairy for a couple of years due to severe stomach cramps. Then I tried raw milk successfully. Then discovered carrageenan in cream or any dairy or ice cream would cause cramps again. It is not worth using. If I can’t get raw, Strouds brand doesn’t have it, and some Traider Joes is without it.

  35. wow i never knew that! can’t wait to move so i canget a cow and goats! can’t drink milk otherwise and cost to much to make almond milk myself.

  36. The stuff is even in “heavy” cream and half & half for crying out loud. Why would products normally high in fat need a fat enhancement?

    • Sheryl,
      Don’t be discouraged. My neice also has many life-threatening food allergies, namely dairy, peanuts, and tree nuts. A few things I’ve made at home for her are coconut milk yogurt, coconut milk, oat milk, rice milk, and dehydrated fruits in place of store-bought ready made snacks. She doesn’t like cheese substitutes so meals are very plain but she has found substitutes for almost anything (her favorite being Sunbutter). It takes very little time to process most of these homemade foods, the yogurt takes a little longer, the milks you soak overnight and blend in the morning after they liquefy. You don’t need a substitute food for everything you yourself eat, make it easier on yourself. Cut down to basics and it isn’t a hard transition.
      Much luck :)

      • Thank you, Brandy. My son wants to be able to drink milk and eat yogurt and cheese. I found The Healthy Home Economist recipe for Coconut Milk, so I should be able to make that myself. I also need a recipe for non-dairy yogurt, and non-dairy cheese. He is allergic to peanuts, tree nuts, soy, dairy, eggs, and cannot have gluten. I rarely have the patience to cook, but I guess I will have to learn, considering all the unhealthy additives in prepared food.

  37. Carrageenan is not only in plant milks, dairy substitutes, and processed foods it is also in beauty products, pet foods, and toothpaste. Read the labels, its use is widespread. The use of carrageenan should be right up there with GMO….gone!

  38. I am so glad you posted this article. I too have stayed away from it and was so upset a year ago to see that my almond yogurt contains it. You can easily make your own.

    Thanks also to the posters about Applegate. That stinks.

  39. Hi Sarah! Thank you, again, for such an informative and eye-opening article! Would you consider writing a post or two or three about how you do it all! I feel so overwhelmed, with two littles under the age of 4 1/2 and one on the way, everyday! I try to cook three meals a day from scratch, but between the laundry, washing and putting away dishes, and other obligations as a parent, I find it very intimidating every time I learn of a new thing that I need to avoid! I have access to raw milk, but sometimes I am so busy and between my kids naps, its impossible even to make the time to pick it up! Clearly…I need help with organization and a general idea of how in the world you do it all! :)

    • Understand your problem, we all do most likely. Just do the best you can. Meals don’t really need to be cooked 3 times a day, they can be simple. Plan your regular meals, then take some away and change them to a simplified version. Aiden’s carrots weren’t even cooked for dinner last night. He had baby carrots right out of a bag. We must not get too into perfect, the main concern is nutrition, and whether the child will eat it. Plus, when you do have time, make freezer foods, muffins, waffles, cooked meats, beans, burritos, chicken nuggets, etc. Or cook twice as much, eat half, freeze the other half for a busy day. If you do have to buy things, make sure it’s organic/whole foods. Things that come in a box, that’s what you should cook. Mac & cheese is easy. I can do it all in one pan.
      Yes, it does get overwhelming at times with our newfound knowledge. Just incorporate new things slowly, unless as in my case, it’s imperative to do immediately.

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  41. So frustrating! It seems nothing can be trusted. Carageenan is an ingredient in many Applegate products, which I thought were safe to consume because they’re nitrate-free. I’m really not sure what lunchmeat, bacon or hot dogs are considered “okay” to buy then! Any recommendations from your readers?

  42. It is also added to aloe vera juice and aloe gel which, ironically, is used to heal inflammation in the gut. Sad, very sad.

  43. I have spent a bit of time shopping and reading labels looking for heavy cream. Even with checking out health food stores, and organic and pastured brands, I was unable to find a commercial heavy cream without carrageenan, so I’m waiting to satisfy my whipped cream urges until I can get some raw heavy cream from the farm.

  44. Your title to this blog, “The Ingredient Allowed in Organic Food That Can Cause Cancer” is very misleading and one of the reasons people like you should be taken with a grain of salt. Nowhere in your article and nowhere else is there evidence that carrageenan causes cancer yet you clearly say it can. There’s slight evidence that it *may* but to this point it hasn’t. Your title, while completely wrong, appeals to the people who think, no WANT, to believe that there are evil things out there that the government is allowing to be put in our food, or maybe worse yet, actually putting it themselves into our food. Most of these people are very capable of independent thought and will take what you and other nutrition extremists write as gospel and that frequently isn’t the case. I can’t do much for them, but I can express my ire toward the people such as yourself who continue to instill fear in people for no good reason. You should be ashamed of yourself.

    • Thank you for this post it was exactly what i wanted to say, this article tricks people who are or are trying to start a healthy eating habits into believeing that they are sick or going to be sick.

    • Thank you for this post it was exactly what i wanted to say, this article tricks people who are or are trying to start a healthy eating habits into believeing that they are sick or going to be sick.

  45. Does anyone know where I can get a full fat cottage cheese? My husband likes to have cottage cheese for lunch because it is as to eat on the road and gives him protein, fat, etc. But every cottage cheese out there has carrageenan in it! I don’t think I have ever seen a full fat cottage cheese anywhere so I don’t even know if it exists!

  46. I took carageenan out of my diet many years ago. I didn’t discover it for awhile, but just knew I needed all chemicals out of my food. Keeping these things out has been good. I’ve no longer been bothered by aural migraines. I had to track down all forms of msg, which took awhile. It is no longer an issue as far as what I want in my diet. It is more difficult to shop though, even organic foods since it involves label reading if I choose a product I’ve never tried.
    People laugh at me and tell me it’s only seeweed. I remember many years ago an entire display at the fair on how wonderful it was, and the kids got to go through a colorful display of items, toothpaste, ice cream etc. and how this product made it so much better for them. That it was so safe, it could be used in your food.

  47. I’ve been working on Trader Joe’s to get them to dump carrageenan from their foods. I was told yesterday that TJ’s doesn’t use any chemicals on their carrageenan and so it’s safe. Oh boy! I explained to the woman while it’s nice they don’t use chemicals the problem is still with the carrageenan itself. Please help me out here and land blast them with the dangers of carrageenan. We need to change the outlets because it seems most people are unaware of this harmful useless additive.

    • Lisa, I completely agree with your comments and feelings, but I scratched my head at the expression “land blast.” What does she mean, I wondered…”land blast, land blast…” and then it struck me: you must mean “lambast”! I hope you don’t mind me pointing this out. I see more and more of these grammar LOLs because people don’t read much any more, and write what they think they’re hearing. Like my friend who used the expression “pur say,” which, again, had me scratching until I realized she meant “per se.” =) That takes the prize so far.

      • I guess I won’t make that mistake again. It was a little hurtful though that since I made an error that you assume that I’m not an avid reader. My wonderful dyslexic husband gave me the best advice in life; it’s not all about punctuation and correct spelling but it’s more about getting your point across. What was your point? Shaming me in a public forum? Getting a good laugh?

        PS. My husband was made to feel stupid throughout his formative years because he had difficulty reading and writing. Our own children also suffer from learning disabilities and that is what has lead me on this path of health. Even though my hubs can’t spell worth a darn or put a paragraph together very well, he has still managed to become COO of a relatively large company.

        • Very sorry…shouldn’t have said anything. I should have known it would probably cause offense. I don’t mind if people correct my grammar, since getting it right and also knowing other points of view are very important to me, but I do know I’m in the minority in not being bothered by correction. I proofread and edit almost daily at work, so I don’t see it as an issue of sensitivity. I didn’t really assume you weren’t a reader–I just know that fewer and fewer people like to read now, and it becomes obvious in public forums. That was just a general comment.

          Yes, anyone can make a mistake, and I did truly find it funny when I came across an expression I’d never heard before, and puzzled and puzzled over it until finally it hit me. But if I could delete the comment, I would. I consider these comment threads to be quite anonymous, and shaming someone in public is the last thing I’d think of or ever do. However, this exchange will make me resist all future impulses to be helpful with grammar when nobody’s asking. Again, sorry for hurting your feelings.

      • Diane, I find it remarkable that you would make Lisa’s mistake a point of discussion, and in the manner that you did. I would wager money that you are manipulative and mentally abusive to your loved ones.

        • David, it’s hard to know how to respond to such an accusation, but I have never heard those words applied to me. You can’t know and judge a person by one short paragraph in an anonymous online forum. I made a mistake, I learned from it, and I will keep all such comments to myself in the future. I really did intend to be humorous and helpful, but I see now it was very naive of me to think it would be taken that way.

          • Diane, I think the key here is to not “scratch your head” so much over other people’s comments. It could very well be causing the female-pattern-baldness and oozy head warts you said you have under another blog post.

  48. Thanks for posting this, I have always wondered… I used to use almond ‘milk’ because dairy causes some minor upset for me. However, after awhile I grew tired of the creepy ingredient list and decided to just deal with the repercussions of dairy consumption. I find that if I include cultured dairy products throughout the day (a little bit of yogurt, a little bit of cultured cream) then I can enjoy a small amount of raw milk without worry. Now I wonder if my sensitivity to dairy was exacerbated by inflammation from consumption of things like carrageenan in the first place!

  49. Slightly off topic… I have read that USDA organic does allow GMO foods. I haven’t found any good report one way or the other. Where did you find your information?

  50. Organic Valley does actually have a heavy cream that is just pasteurized (NOT the ultra-pasteurized one) that has just one ingredient: “Organic Grade A Cream (Milk).” I actually handle that pretty well.

    But I found out when I picked up my milk last week that my farmer is gonna be offering raw cream now! And it’s an awesome price. YAY!

  51. Pingback: The Ingredient Allowed in Organic Food That Can Cause Cancer | CookingPlanet

  52. So if this carrageenan is found in seaweed – does eating seaweed negatively affect the person? Or is it only a problem in it’s processed form?

      • There are two common species of nori: Porphyra yezoensis and Porphyra tenera.The first contains abundant amounts of bonafide vitamin B12, but the second contains large amounts of non-bioavailable pseudovitamin B12 (when dried). So the first nori is good, but the second nori is potentially harmful.

  53. Julie Pinkston via Facebook September 11, 2012 at 10:08 pm

    I had read some time ago that carrageenan was not good for you, but it sort of faded into the background—thank you for the reminder! I will have to be more vigilant in reading labels…and cross a few more things off the list.

  54. Grace Parker Flanders Scott via Facebook September 11, 2012 at 10:02 pm

    Thank you so much for this post. Even this former Home Ec Teacher did not know about the toxicity of this ingredient. I am a 14+ year Stage 4A Lymphoma survivor, and am careful about my diet, and now I will screen this out as well. Blessings!

  55. Thank you for raising the alarm about this horrible garbage, Sarah. It is so important for people to know this.

    Shame on the organic board for allowing this to be used in organic foods. Come to think of it, it should not be use din any food.

  56. We were living in WI and had wonderful raw dairy always on hand. We recently moved to Alaska and have no access to raw milk of any sort. I have found eggs from locals but that is it. Our children always had real issues with pasteurized dairy to the point that we didn’t eat dairy at all until we were in WI with the raw milk available. It was truly amazing; the difference in the kids (all of us) enjoying milk with nothing but pure benefits and no horrible rashes, etc.

    Since moving to AK, I have been purchasing almond milk and Organic Valley whole (ultra-pasteurized) milk and use it sparingly. I don’t know what to use anymore. I hate that the whole milk is pasteurized (“ultra” at that) and see no benefit to it. Our youngest can’t drink it at all and he loved the raw milk in WI. I’m upset that this junk is found in almond and coconut milk. We have no access to coconuts and almonds will cost a small fortune to ship here but I’m willing to do it if necessary. I’ve never made almond or coconut milk before so I’m not sure where to start with that; will have to look online.

    What to you suggest is best if raw milk isn’t an option at all and the stuff on the store shelf isn’t up to par? Are store-bought almond and coconut milk beneficial anyway? They seem too thick to be ‘real’ in the first place.

    More of a sidenote question… We do have access to KerryGold butter and can order grass-fed ghee online. Is one better than the other? (I was making our own raw milk butter…. *sigh*)

    Thanks so much for all the articles and information you share with us. It’s greatly appreciated!

    • I would suggest finding pasteurized cream (not ultrapasteurized) and diluting with some filtered water. You can also make the coconut milk tonic if you click on the second link in the post above. Canned whole coconut milk with no additives can be found fairly easily.

      Good luck! I did notice on my trip to Alaska this summer how expensive everything is at the grocery store. My heart goes out to you. Do the best you can and I’m sure you will find a way.

    • Heather, I don’t know what part of Alaska you are living in, but there are sources of raw milk available. Since it is illegal to sell raw milk here there are places that have cow shares and also those that sell for animal use only. At this time of year the milk is dwindling, but keep checking around. The Mat-Su valleys have quite a few farmers and also down on the Kenai Peninsula. There are homesteaders all over really, but I don’t know about Southeast. I belong to a food co-op that orders from Azure Standard. (Our freight costs about .50-.60 per pound.) You can contact them to find any co-ops in your area. People who order from them may have more sources local to you where you can find some of theses things. A few years ago I spoke with someone at Matanuska Creamery and she told me they feed their cows on pasture and then grain in the winter. It is just regular pasteurized. It’s not the best, but certainly better than the Organic Valley ultrapasturized junk. (The only time I ever got sick on dairy was from some of their half&half). They were selling the cream only at their store in Wasilla by the gallon. I also believe the milk was being sold in the Fred Meyer stores in Anchorage. I haven’t checked in quite a while. (I am hardly ever in that area). There are also many people who raise goats. You might be able to find goat milk somewhere. Check the Real Milk website too. I don’t think the co-operative extension service could help you since it is illegal, but they might direct you to some 4-Hers or to some feed stores that might have some information. Check the bulletin boards up at stores. I hope this is helpful to you.

      Where did you find Kerry Gold butter??!!!

    • The coconut milk powder has maltodextrin in it. Isn’t that a sugar?? It also has sodium caseinate added (to keep the oil in the follicle). Not sure what that is but if its from dairy then I can’t have it! I was about to purchase this from my health food store until I saw those to ingredients.

  57. Pingback: Homemade Toothpaste : The Polivka Family

    • You can make coconut milk at home very easily with some coconut manna from nutiva and water. :) Best if you have a vitamix or blendtec blender though. You can also just used dried coconut and water. Same can be done for nut milks at home. 😉

  58. Jennifer Holdridge Black via Facebook September 11, 2012 at 3:09 pm

    Sarah – Have you used coconut milk powder like what is sold Wilderness Family Natural to make your tonic? I am choose what I have time to make and thought skipping the whole coconut piece would be a time saver for me.

    • @ Jennifer: I looked up the coconut milk powder at Wilderness Family Naturals: They list 95% dried coconut milk, 2% sodium caseinate and 3% maltodextrin. On another of Sarah’s posts:

      The commenter “Nevra” says that in the book Excitotoxins, sodium caseinate is listed as another name/form for MSG. I think Sarah has also villified maltodextrin, but I don’t recall for sure. Maybe you could write WFN and ask them about this and post their response here, such as what is the source of sodium caseinate and is it just a form of MSG?


  59. Hi Sarah, THANK YOU! Wow…now what do we do? I of course just ran to the fridge to look at our milk options in the fridge. So disappointing! Do you know of any brands out on the market that are not cow’s milk that DON’T have it? Thanks for this article…one more thing we need to adjust in our shopping/eating.

  60. Shannon Riddle Neda via Facebook September 11, 2012 at 1:53 pm

    Well, as I mentioned on your blog, it is now in the full fat heavy whipping cream at a well-known “healthy” store. I can’t get raw cream and I live far from some health food stores where there is vat pasteurized cream. So there was one final place I could get standard pasteurized cream (instead of ultra-pasteurized) and now the ingredients are “cream and carrageenan.”

  61. I have a very bad sensitivity to this. I couldn’t figure out what it was for the longest time because you usually don’t think about anything in almond milk being terrible. After a bout of gastritis, dairy really bothered me, so I substituted almond milk for a bit. My stomach was a mess. After I tolerated dairy again, my stomach problems went away for the most part (mostly because I stopped drinking almond milk with this in it). When I do have something with this in it, I get abdominal cramps. Recently, I was really upset to find some heavy cream I had been using now has this in it. I couldn’t figure out why I was getting sick after making something with it. In the past, it didn’t contain it and I never got the cramps. When I looked at the side of the bottle and it said “cream and carrageenan,” I was so angry! It was the only cream in my area I couldn’t find ultra-pasteurized and now I can’t use it! This stuff can really mess up an already sensitive GI tract for sure.

    • Drink fresh, raw milk, from your local specialty market, or from a local farm that sells fresh raw milk. We all drink raw milk, and our kids are SO healthy. If you don’t have access to raw milk, check the WAPF website and see where the closest pasture raised dairy farm is to you. Raw goat milk is also very good for you!

  62. Jennifer Grimes Waters via Facebook September 11, 2012 at 12:45 pm

    I wish you would publish more positive things? Like where to find a good grade of meat if you don’t have a local farmer who raises beef on pasture.

    • I had no idea. I’ve been using their whipping cream because of their “pasture raised” cows. Isn’t anything safe anymore. Not all of us have time or energy to make our own everything!

    • Organic Valley does have a heavy cream that is just pasteurized that has just one ingredient: Organic Grade A Cream (Milk) – (not the ultra-pasteurized), and they are working on reformulating the items that do have it. There is a comment above that has a copy of a letter from Organic Valley stating this. We are farmer/owners of Organic Valley and have encouraged them to make products with “simpler” ingredients.

  63. And it is not just in dairy products! The one deli meat that I have found that didn’t have added sugars or anything; the closest one that I can come to as far as consumption, still has “less than 2% carrageenan!” Ugh. :( It seems impossible to get away from. It’s sneaking its way into everything.

    • You are so right! I just discovered it’s in Applegate Naturals turkey Roasted Turkey Breast lunchmeat. The label says Applegate Naturals, Changing the Meat We Eat. I guess in this case, changing it by adding a carcinogen. Boo-hiss Applegate!

      I guess it’s time to write to Applegate.

      • Applegate is even slipping chemicals to us ~ there’s just nothing we can trust anymore unless we raise our own animals too. It’s just disgusting ~ guess we’ve all got to write to these companies and get the chemicals out of our food! & tell them we’re not buying any longer ! ! Rebel ~ Rebel ! ! !

    • My husband and I have been buying Applegate Organics deli meat for our kids for the past two years. It says in parenthesis “(from seaweed)”, and we just figured they were doing that because it was a better source. I knew about the dangers of carrageenen in dairy, but now I’m right where you are, Mrs. Madel. So disappointing. Sarah – Thank you for posting this article and improving our family’s health.

    • Sarah, The Healthy Home Economist September 11, 2012 at 11:54 am

      Yes it is. Click through to first link in the post and see the labels for various coconut and almond milks from the store which list carrageenan.

  64. Amy Yardley via Facebook September 11, 2012 at 11:42 am

    I learned about this ingredient a few months ago. It’s in practically every commercially produced dairy (or dairy-like) product. Blech.

  65. Amy Yardley via Facebook September 11, 2012 at 11:42 am

    I learned about this ingredient a few months ago. It’s in practically every commercially produced dairy (or dairy-like) product. Blech.


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