More and more people are asking us about carrageenan so we thought we’d help you out with list of commonly asked questions. This should help you understand more about this natural product that is used in many food products.

What is carrageenan?

Carrageenan is a seaweed extract that has the texture of gel. It is commonly used to thicken products such as soy milk, almond milk, yogurt and other pudding or creamy products. Because it is a seaweed extract it is naturally occurring and sustainably sourced. To extract the material from the seaweed, the seaweed or Irish Moss is boiled and then strained.

Can we eat carrageenan?

Yes, we can eat carrageenan – it is safe to eat. Numerous scientific studies and research have shown that carrageenan is safe to eat. For use in both organic and non-organic products, studies have proven that this product does not cause any ill health effects. The National Organics Standards Board and the Joint Food & Agriculture Organization/WHO Expert Committees on Food Additives have concluded in separate studies that carrageenan is safe for us to eat.

How is carrageenan regulated?

Because carrageenan is a safe food additive, it has been approved by governments through-out the world for use in our food. In the United States, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) oversees the use of food additives in food and sets the standards. The USDA  has approved the use of carrageenan as a food additive. Additionally the International Agency for Research on Cancer has stated that carrageenan does not cause cancer.

What kind of products use carrageenan?

Because it is a thickener and has a gel-like consistency, it can be used in a range of products. For example, most brands of soy and almond milk include carrageenan as an ingredient. Many puddings and desserts also include carrageenan. It makes these products thicker and creamier. Some people boil Irish Moss at home and then add the gel themselves to smoothies, soups and puddings.

Is carrageenan vegan?

Yes, because carrageenan is not derived from animal products it is vegan. Unlike gelatin, which is an animal product – it can be used in both vegan and vegetarian food.

Is it safe for people with digestive disorders?

Yes, it is safe for everyone. It does not cause inflammation in the digestive tract. Numerous studies have been conducted to ensure that carrageenan does not cause inflammation in the digestive tract.

Is carrageenan environmentally-friendly?

Seaweed farming is one of the most environmentally-friendly types of farming. This kind of aquaculture does not require fertilizer, has no ill effects on climate change, and it does not require fresh water. In fact this type of aquaculture farming actually captures carbon and removes harmful nitrogen and phosphorus from the water.