My online vegan support forum recently blew up with talk about “carrageenan.” What is it, and should we be concerned about eating foods that contain it?
Carrageenan is a food additive derived from red seaweed that is used as a thickening agent. It’s in a lot of different foods–everything from Silk brand soy and coconut milks (but not almond milk) to Fig Newtons. There’s a huge list of foods (and other household products like toothpaste) that contain carrageenan here.
Big picture, though–should we avoid it? The two sides to the argument can be found in “Demeaning Carrageenan” and the VegSource response, “Rebuttal to Cohen’s Latest Nonsense.” The reason I care is because I currently have Silk brand soy and coconut milks in my fridge and feed them to my children.
A search for articles in Google Scholar yielded a mixed bag of results. One study stated that due to carrageenan’s highly inflammatory nature, it causes tumor growth to explode in animal experiments. However, I also read this, from “A Critical Review of the Toxicological Effects of Carrageenan…“: