The use of Carrageenan has been a controversial subject for many years. While some studies have suggested that it may be a potential health risk, others have indicated that it is safe for use in food products.
To understand the safety profile of Carrageenan, it is important to understand how it is made and what its potential health risks are. This will provide an overview of its use.
What is Carrageenan?
Carrageenan is a natural substance derived from red seaweed, which is commonly found in the waters off the coast of the nation of the Republic of Ireland and other parts of Europe.
The red seaweed is harvested, dried, and then ground into a fine powder. This powder is then processed using a variety of chemical reactions to create carrageenan.
Global sales of Carrageenan are believed to be around $700million per year. This sums up just how popular it is. But this popularity means that it is understandable for there to be concern.
Where is Carrageenan found?
Carrageenan has been used for centuries. In this time, its popularity has increased, with its use also rising significantly. Now, it is a key ingredient in many markets.
For instance, it is common in desserts, milkshakes, vegetarian foods and yoghurts. Moreover, it can be used in alcoholic beverages and some sugar-free carbonated drinks.
It also has uses in the medical and healthcare field too. It is used in some kinds of toothpaste and as an excipient in the creation of tablets in the pharmaceutical industry.
What is the safety profile of Carrageenan?
The safety profile of carrageenan is complicated. While some studies have suggested that it may be a potential health risk, other studies have indicated that it is safe for use in food products.
For example, one study conducted in 2017 found that Carrageenan did not appear to be a carcinogen, meaning that it does not cause cancer. However, the same study also found that Carrageenan may cause inflammation in some individuals.
In addition to this, Carrageenan has also been linked to a number of gastrointestinal issues. Studies have suggested that it may cause gastrointestinal inflammation, as well as an increase in intestinal permeability. This increase in intestinal permeability may allow toxins and other harmful substances to pass through the intestinal wall and into the bloodstream, which can lead to a number of health issues.
Given the potential risks associated with Carrageenan, it is important to understand how it is used in food products. Carrageenan is commonly used as a thickening and stabilizing agent in many food products. It can also used as an emulsifier in some products, such as margarine and salad dressings.
Regulation of Carrageenan
In light of the potential health risks associated with Carrageenan, it is important to understand how it is regulated. Interestingly, most countries adopt the same approach.
In the United States, Carrageenan is considered to be Generally Recognized as Safe (GRAS) by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). This means that it is considered to be safe for use in food products, as long as it is used in the appropriate amounts.
It is widely accepted throughout the world. The European Food Safety Authority have considered it safe, with low exposure showing no signs of causing adverse effects in humans.
Indeed, the World Health Organization have also considered Carrageenan to be safe, and have recommended its use. Again, low quantities of Carrageenan have been put forward as being okay.
In some fringe circles, Carrageenan’s use is questioned. As is typical of this day and age, some have pointed to it actually doing harm to us. But the science (which can’t always be trusted of course), suggests it is safe.
In conclusion, Carrageenan is considered to be generally safe for use in food products, as long as it is used in the appropriate amounts. It is important to be aware of any potential allergic reactions that may occur when consuming products containing Carrageenan.
But for the majority of people, Carrageenan is safe for use, and will play a role in the background, without us even being aware of its presence.