Monday, December 02, 2013

carrageenan — just say no

I am becoming one of "those people." The ones who have to read every food label in the grocery store, who are banning certain go-to products from my shelves and refrigerator. You may think of me as a crank, but I don't care. I am getting sick to death of all of the processed crap that is being passed off to us in this country as food. How companies that we think we should be able to trust, because of their pledge to use "organic" or natural ingredients are just as bad as the ones who don't pretend to care. Case in point: carrageenan.

For decades, most organic food companies considered the seaweed-based “natural” food additive to be safe. The carrageenan industry lobby group had been effective in suppressing research. But since May 2012, no one in the organic industry can claim that they are not aware of disturbing research tying the food additive to serious potential health problems. — The Cornucopia Institute, "Carrageenan, How a 'Natural' Food Additive is Making Us Sick"

Carrageenan is classified as a natural ingredient because it is made from seaweed. It is used to thicken and stabilize a diversity of foods from milk to ice cream to meat products. It has also been linked to inflammation, especially of the digestive tract, which for someone like me who has tummy issues, is especially concerning.

So to avoid carrageenan should be easy, right? Just avoid most processed food and shop organic. Well, not as easy as one might think. The FDA considers carrageenan an OK ingredient to be included in organic food as well. After combing labels it is next to impossible to find almond or coconut milk without it. My cat has been having some gastric issues lately too. I expected Friskies and Fancy Feast and other main brands to employ the thickener in its products, but I was in for another surprise. Apart from the pricey Science Diet food that I can get at the vet, it was next to impossible to find carrageenan-free cat food. One of my go-to organic brands is now off my shopping list — Newman's Own, which uses carrageenan in all of its canned food. I am definitely writing them a letter.

Thankfully, after a little internet searching, I have found some information on brands to avoid/brands to buy regarding carrageenan. Some of the OK brands are a bit obscure, so I will still be reading and checking labels. As I hope, will you.


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