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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Safety of Carrageenan


Carrageenan, a naturally occurring gum derived from red seaweed, is used as a thickener, stabilizer, and emulsifier in food products such as chocolate milk, infant formula, and pie filling. In 2016, because pesticide residues had been discovered in some carrageenan imported from the Philippines, a citizen group that advises the U.S. Department of Agriculture voted to remove carrageenan from a list of foods labeled “USDA Organic.” The controversy surrounding carrageenan is not due to ill health effects caused by carrageenan itself. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has evaluated carrageenan as “generally recognized as safe.”

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