'Food Babe' applauds carrageenan removal

by Jeff Gelski
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WhiteWave Foods said it plans to remove carrageenan from its Silk and Horizon Organic products.

BROOMFIELD, COLO. — The WhiteWave Foods Co., citing consumer feedback and not safety concerns, plans to remove carrageenan from its Silk and Horizon Organic products, according to Facebook postings for the two brands. Blogger Vani Hari, also known as “The Food Babe,” applauded the move and urged her readers to avoid all products industrywide that include carrageenan on the ingredient list.

An announcement on carrageenan appeared Aug. 21 on Facebook pages for Silk and Horizon Organic. Soy milk, almond milk and coconut milk are sold under the Silk brand. Organic milk is sold under the Horizon Organic brand. Carrageenan, a purified extract of red seaweed, is used as natural thickener and stabilizer in food products, according to the postings. The Food and Drug Administration allows its use as a direct food additive.

“Even though it is safe, our consumers have told us they want products without it,” the Facebook postings said.

The decision to remove carrageenan from Silk and Horizon Organic products was made months ago, the postings said.

“This change will occur gradually over the next two years, as it takes time to work through the many formulations of our various products,” the postings said.

Ms. Hari heard about the planned carrageenan removal before the Facebook postings and wrote about it in her Aug. 19 blog.

“Let’s help to be part of this sweeping change to remove carrageenan from our food supply by avoiding all products with carrageenan and ask companies who are still using it to drop it,” she wrote.

In a blog in February of this year, Ms. Hari wrote about Subway using azodicarbonamide (ADA), a dough conditioner, in its bread. Subway at the time said it had been planning to remove ADA from its bread. Since then the restaurant chain has done so.

In writing about carrageenan, Ms. Hari cited a March 2013 report from The Cornucopia Institute, Cornucopia, Wis., titled, “Carrageenan, How a ‘Natural’ Food Additive is  Making Us Sick.” The Cornucopia report said animal studies have shown food-grade carrageenan causes gastrointestinal inflammation and higher rates of intestinal lesions, ulcerations and even malignant tumors.

Carrageenan has been allowed as a natural, non-organic substance in organic processed products since 2003 and is on the National List of Allowed and Prohibited Substances, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. To qualify for the “organic” labeling category, at least 95% of a product’s content must be certified organic. The other 5% may be composed of specifically allowed non-organic substances like carrageenan.
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READER COMMENTS (2)

By FOOD PERSON 9/2/2014 9:30:39 AM
Why would the Food Business News support or propagate anything coming from "The Food Babe?" It is important to know what we are consuming however the fear based and un-educated attacks using social media arent the way to do it.

By Ingredients Solutions 8/29/2014 2:15:00 PM
The scientific community at large continues affirmation that carrageenan is safe for even the most vulnerable populations. The esteemed and independent scientific body that reviews food additives for the World Health Organization, the Joint Expert Committee on Food Additives (JECFA), announced this June a scientific review finding carrageenan safe even for use in infant formula. The International Agency for Research on Cancer is the body which advises the World Health Organization on cancer risks for substances and their findings for carrageenan clearly state that “Native (undegraded) carrageenan was tested for carcinogenicity in rats and hamsters by administration in the diet; no evidence of carcinogenicity was found” JECFA’s thorough review considered the entire body of available scientific research on carrageenan safety for all population, incorporating the most relevant research into its final decision. This major finding was only vaguely referenced in a photo cutline, while Dr. Tobacman’s outdated petition from 2008 was highlighted. JECFA and the FDA ultimately rejected that petition because the research it rests upon is not applicable to the way carrageenan is consumed by people. All dietary studies intended to simulate the conditions of actual human consumption of carrageenan have found carrageenan to be safe, including a recent study of neonatal pigs that replicated the conditions of human infants consuming carrageenan in infant formula and found no safety concerns even in this most vulnerable population. Long-term studies of rodents and primates fed carrageenan (including infant baboons) have also found no indication of harm, carcinogenicity, or negative effects from carrageenan on the intestinal tract or other organ systems in test animals. There is no lack of information on the safety of carrageenan. There is simply continued mischaracterization and misapplication of science regarding this important additive.