The Truth about Carrageenan

9 Jun , 2017 Carrageenan

This interesting ingredient has been used in foods for many years for its properties as an emulsifier and safe food additive. Over the recent years, it has received much criticism regarding various unfounded facts about its safety. As a matter of fact, this one happens to be one of the additives least likely to cause allergic reaction in most sensitive and highly allergic individuals. Though anyone can become allergic to anything, this is hardly a common allergen. The use of carrageenan in foods is so extensive that real safety of it has been clearly established. Who know why it has now come under fire as an unsafe additive?

There are probably several reasons that any additive could come under fire as some sort of negative entity to health. To start, many of them are very bad for health and, over the years, we have learned this about so many of the things we eat in our foods. However, the ingredient in question is from a completely natural source. It is derived from a special type of seaweed and it is simply a complex starch which acts like a thickening fiber. For lack of a better term it is fiber because dietary fiber is not digestible, it is bulking and necessary for the health of our digestive systems and bowels.


One of the arguments against carrageenan is that it is not digestible and therefore should not be eaten. Such arguments make no sense at all considering the fact that all dietary fibers, by definition, are not supposed to be digested. Not everything we eat gets fully digested or nothing would ever come out of the other side. This argument against a very practical food ingredient is not sound at all. You will find other supposed facts to the same effect. While there may be some validity to some reports, it is important to remember that information is not always accurate and sometimes it is slanted in the favor of certain industries.

The most reliable sources will show you that there is often confusion with a byproduct called poligeenan. The problem with that ingredient is it is used in certain preparations which are not safe for human consumption. The original compound is severely altered and becomes a harmful compound. Sometimes the poligeenan is used in place of or mixed with the original compound and this is where some physical harm can come in.

As long as the real ingredient is as in the title of this article, it is the right one and you have no reason to be afraid of consuming it or using it in your culinary arts. It is, in fact, one of the best food thickeners around and you will easily find some of the most outstanding vegan and vegetarian recipes with it. You will also find use in meat preparation and many other dishes including casseroles and soups.

The bottom line is that you can find negative information on any food ingredient. Usually, however, if it is not altered chemically and it comes from a natural and safe source, you can use it freely like you wish.