The use of carrageenan as a food ingredient has been the source of some concern in recent years based on inferences drawn from studies conducted on human cell cultures.

  • Carrageenan is an ingredient obtained from seaweed that is used widely in foods and beverages to perform gelling, thickening, and stabilizing functions.  Although many long-term studies support the safety of carrageenan consumption, concerns have been raised in recent years regarding its potential to cause gastrointestinal inflammation.  In 2012, the FDA rejected a petition seeking to ban the use of carrageenan in food, effectively validating the safety of the ingredient.  Further, in 2015, the Joint FAO/WHO Expert Committee on Food Additives (JECFA) concluded that the use of carrageenan in infant formula is “not of concern” at levels of up to 1,000 mg per liter (see our previous blog coverage on the JECFA findings here).
  • A recent study led by internationally recognized toxicologist and carrageenan expert Dr. James M. McKim, Jr. lends further support to the safety of carrageenan, finding that carrageenan did not induce inflammation in human cells as claimed by carrageenan critics.
  • This recent study should enlighten any continued debate about the safety of carrageenan.