Tag Archives: Carrageenan

IFAC Commends USDA for Upholding Organic Principles and Maintaining Carrageenan in Organic Food

On April 4, 2018 the US Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) announced carrageenan will continue to be allowed in organic foods and beverages, thus rejecting a recommendation by the National Organic Standards Board (NOSB) to remove the substance based on a claim it is not essential to organic production. This decision turns back a potentially precedent-setting proposal that would have permitted an advisory board to discontinue the use of a substance based on inaccurate information and was not in line with organic principles.

Carrageenan has been permitted in organic food production since 2003, and was relisted based on recommendations from the NOSB in 2007 and 2011. While NOSB members raised questions in recent years about carrageenan safety, its November 2016 vote to remove carrageenan was based not on safety concerns, but on a perceived lack of essentiality in organic production. This, despite clear and substantive examples provided by the organic food industry that removing carrageenan would have significant impacts on the organic market and result in products that are less nutritious, less appealing, and more expensive, and in some cases removal of some products from the market altogether.

The AMS decision to keep carrageenan in organic food is not only good news for formulators and consumers, it represents sound scientific policy and demonstrates USDA’s commitment to making organic decisions based on science and technical evidence rather than manipulative opinions and misperceptions. Carrageenan has long been an additive of interest, despite its history of use in foods and repeated positive safety determinations by regulatory authorities worldwide. Upholding the NOSB’s vote and removing carrageenan from organic foods based on flawed arguments would have set a bad precedent for reviews of future organic materials and could have led to a drastic reduction in the options organic formulators have to make innovative products that meet consumer expectations and continue to grow the organic market.

IFAC strongly supports USDA’s sound, science-based decision to keep carrageenan in organic foods and, by doing so, avoid setting a dangerous precedent of delisting additives based on a perceived lack of essentiality. IFAC and its members will continue to work with regulators and the food industry to provide accurate and high quality scientific evidence to support the use of ingredients in organic food.

About IFAC
The International Food Additives Council (IFAC) is a global association representing manufacturers of food ingredients. Founded in 1980, IFAC strives to promote science-based regulation and the global harmonization of food ingredient standards and specifications.

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New study proves no adverse effects of carrageenan in human cells

WASHINGTON, D.C. (August 10, 2016) – A new study on carrageenan, an ingredient key to delivering stability, texture and nutrients in many foods and beverages, clearly demonstrates that the ingredient does not induce inflammation in human cells as claimed by carrageenan critics.  The study, which was conducted by internationally recognized toxicologist and carrageenan expert Dr. James M. McKim, Jr., was recently accepted for publication by the peer-reviewed journal Food and Toxicology. This pivotal study represents the culmination of two years of research that was unable to replicate any of the findings of carrageenan critics, including Dr. Joanne Tobacman, who claim the food ingredient contributes to certain adverse health outcomes.

Publication of McKim’s study raises major questions about the validity of Tobacman’s conclusions and underscores the importance of replicating scientific results in different laboratories and by multiple researchers. McKim’s research was carefully designed to investigate several recent studies Tobacman has cited as evidence of her claims that carrageenan causes inflammation and is harmful. Not only was McKim unable to replicate the negative effects Tobacman has reported, his research showed carrageenan has no measurable effects on cells and provides strong evidence that carrageenan consumed in foods and beverages would not cause inflammation in humans.

“Dr. McKim’s research confirms what we have known for decades—carrageenan has no impact on the human body when consumed in food,” said Robert Rankin, Executive Director of the International Food Additives Council (IFAC), which commissioned the study. “Carrageenan producers have taken very seriously claims that the ingredient is unsafe, thoroughly investigated the research supporting those claims and found them to be baseless.”

Carrageenan is a common food ingredient used in many foods, such as ice cream, chocolate milk, yogurt and soy milk, for its stabilizing and thickening properties. It is also an approved additive for use in infant formula, where it is ensures that essential nutrients remain mixed throughout liquid products. It occurs naturally in red seaweed that is grown and harvested sustainably by tens of thousands of family farmers around the globe. Carrageenan is popular as a plant-based, eco-friendly alternative to animal-derived thickeners and has been used safely in foods for hundreds of years.

McKim’s study comes just months before the U.S. National Organic Standards Board (NOSB) is expected to vote on whether to reapprove the use of carrageenan in organic foods sold in the United States. Groups touting Tobacman’s research have lobbied the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to ban carrageenan in all foods and the NOSB to remove it from organic products. Despite these efforts, regulatory bodies around the world have repeatedly reviewed and dismissed their claims, finding carrageenan to be safe for use in all foods.

McKim’s research exposes fundamental flaws in Tobacman’s evidence, adds to the vast body of scientific research demonstrating carrageenan safety and thoroughly debunks certain groups’ claims that carrageenan is harmful and should be removed from foods. For more information about carrageenan and other ingredients and additives used in food production, please visit www.foodingredientfacts.org.

About IFAC

The International Food Additives Council (IFAC) is a global association representing manufacturers of food ingredients. Founded in 1980, IFAC strives to promote science-based regulation and the global harmonization of food ingredient standards and specifications.


Randy Spoon



To view the complete study, click here.

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