I saw this new product today in Whole Foods by So Delicious, Coconut Milk Beverage. I looked at the ingredients and saw carrageenan listed. I didn’t know what it was, but after looking into it, I’m second guessing whether or not it is something to try.
What are your thoughts or food additives such as this one?
We asked So Delicious for information about this additive and this was their response on Twitter:
The Joint FAO/WHO expert committee on food additives states “that based on the information available, it is inadvisable to use carrageenan or processed eucheuma seaweed in infant formulas”. There is evidence from studies performed on rats, guinea pigs and monkeys which indicates that degraded carrageenan (poligeenan) may cause ulcerations in the gastro-intestinal tract and gastro-intestinal cancer. Poligeenan is produced from carrageenan subjected to hightemperatures and acidity. The average carrageenan molecule weighs over 100,000 Da while poligeenans have a molecular weight of less than 50,000 Da. A scientific committee working on behalf of the European Commission has recommended that the amount of degraded carrageenan be limited to a maximum of 5% (which is the limit of detection) of total carrageenan mass. Upon testing samples of foods containing high molecular weight carrageens, researchers found no poligeenan.
A recent publication indicates that carrageenan induces inflammation in human intestinal epithelial cells in tissue culture through a BCL10-mediated pathway that leads to activation of NFkappaB andIL-8. Carrageenan may be immunogenic due to its unusual alpha-1,3-galactosidic link that is part of its disaccharide unit structure. Consumption of carrageenan may have a role in intestinal inflammation and possibly inflammatory bowel disease, since BCL10 resembles NOD2, mutations of which are associated with genetic proclivity to Crohn’s Disease.