We are independent & ad-supported. We may earn a commission for purchases made through our links.
Advertiser Disclosure
Our website is an independent, advertising-supported platform. We provide our content free of charge to our readers, and to keep it that way, we rely on revenue generated through advertisements and affiliate partnerships. This means that when you click on certain links on our site and make a purchase, we may earn a commission. Learn more.
How We Make Money
We sustain our operations through affiliate commissions and advertising. If you click on an affiliate link and make a purchase, we may receive a commission from the merchant at no additional cost to you. We also display advertisements on our website, which help generate revenue to support our work and keep our content free for readers. Our editorial team operates independently of our advertising and affiliate partnerships to ensure that our content remains unbiased and focused on providing you with the best information and recommendations based on thorough research and honest evaluations. To remain transparent, we’ve provided a list of our current affiliate partners here.

What Is Carrageenan?

Tricia Christensen
Updated May 31, 2024
Our promise to you
All The Science is dedicated to creating trustworthy, high-quality content that always prioritizes transparency, integrity, and inclusivity above all else. Our ensure that our content creation and review process includes rigorous fact-checking, evidence-based, and continual updates to ensure accuracy and reliability.

Our Promise to you

Founded in 2002, our company has been a trusted resource for readers seeking informative and engaging content. Our dedication to quality remains unwavering—and will never change. We follow a strict editorial policy, ensuring that our content is authored by highly qualified professionals and edited by subject matter experts. This guarantees that everything we publish is objective, accurate, and trustworthy.

Over the years, we've refined our approach to cover a wide range of topics, providing readers with reliable and practical advice to enhance their knowledge and skills. That's why millions of readers turn to us each year. Join us in celebrating the joy of learning, guided by standards you can trust.

Editorial Standards

At All The Science, we are committed to creating content that you can trust. Our editorial process is designed to ensure that every piece of content we publish is accurate, reliable, and informative.

Our team of experienced writers and editors follows a strict set of guidelines to ensure the highest quality content. We conduct thorough research, fact-check all information, and rely on credible sources to back up our claims. Our content is reviewed by subject-matter experts to ensure accuracy and clarity.

We believe in transparency and maintain editorial independence from our advertisers. Our team does not receive direct compensation from advertisers, allowing us to create unbiased content that prioritizes your interests.

Carrageenan is a product derived from certain types of red algae, a seaweed found throughout the coasts of North America and Europe. The product is most often used as a thickening agent in place of animal-based products like gelatin, which is extracted from animal bones. It is a common ingredient in many foods and gel-like products, and even has applications in biochemistry. Carrageenan is nearly identical to agar, another substance derived from several different species of red algae.


In food and other products, carrageenan works as a thickener, stabilizer, and emulsifier, meaning that it helps keep mixed ingredients from separating. It gives foods a smooth texture and accentuates flavor. It is often used in dairy-based foods, like ice cream, yogurt, and cottage cheese, because it reacts well with milk proteins. Carrageenan is also found in jelly, pie filling, chocolate, salad dressing, and even as a fat substitute in processed meat. Because it comes from algae, it can be used as a substitute for gelatin for vegetarian and vegan products.

Other, non-food items, like toothpaste, personal lubricants, and air freshener gels may also include carrageenan. It serves the same function as it does in foods — to thicken and stabilize the product, and make it smoother. Some types of fire fighting foam also use carrageenan, which thickens the foam and helps it become sticky and more effective. In chemistry, gels made with it can be used to carry microbes or immobilize cells.


There are three main classes of carrageenan — kappa, iota, and lambda — each of which have different gel strengths. The kappa class produces a solid, firm gel when mixed with water, and is known for reacting well with dairy proteins. The iota class produces a soft gel when mixed with water, and tends to gel more easily when combined with calcium. The lambda class does not gel in water, although it will in the right concentration in milk; it is more often used as a thickener than to cause a product to gel.

Traditionally, the species of algae used to produce carrageenan was Irish moss or Chondrus crispus. In modern times, the kappa class is mostly produced from the Eucheuma cottonii species, while iota comes from Eucheuma denticulatum and lambda from species in the Gigartina genus. Other types of red algae are also used, and yield various amounts of each class.


Carrageenan is produced in two forms: refined and semi-refined. To produce the refined form, the algae is cooked in an alkaline solution for several hours, then the solid parts of the seaweed are filtered out. The carrageenan is concentrated and removed from the solution, then dried. This method for extracting the substance has been used for hundreds of years, although it is slow and expensive.

To produce the semi-refined form, the algae is cooked in an alkaline solution that contains potassium hydroxide. The potassium prevents the carrageenan from dissolving in the solution, but allows most of the other parts of the algae — like proteins and carbohydrates — to dissolve. The algae is then removed from the solution, washed, and dried. What is left is carrageenan and cellulose, which is ground into a powder. Because it does not gel with potassium, the lambda class cannot be produced with this method.

It is possible to produce carrageenan at home by boiling Irish moss for about 20 to 30 minutes. When the mixture cools and the moss is removed, much of the carrageenan will have dissolved in the water, leaving a gelled substance.

Health Concerns

Several studies in the early 2000s suggested that a certain type of carrageenan — degraded carrageenan, which has been hydrolyed, or broken down by acid — could cause gastrointestinal problems, including cancers. The degraded type is not typically used in food. In fact, only the undegraded variety has been deemed safe for human consumption by the Joint Expert Committee on Food Additives (JECFA) and approved for use in foods by the Food and Drug Administration in the US.

All The Science is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Tricia Christensen
By Tricia Christensen
With a Literature degree from Sonoma State University and years of experience as a All The Science contributor, Tricia Christensen is based in Northern California and brings a wealth of knowledge and passion to her writing. Her wide-ranging interests include reading, writing, medicine, art, film, history, politics, ethics, and religion, all of which she incorporates into her informative articles. Tricia is currently working on her first novel.
Discussion Comments
By anon992830 — On Oct 06, 2015

I only buy nondairy milks without carrageenan.

By anon985533 — On Jan 16, 2015

Those who say "free glutamic acid" is the devil: you do realize that it occurs in lots of foods you eat after you cook them?

By anon359879 — On Dec 21, 2013

No carrageenan for me. I see a few other posters found and have read Dr. Joanne Tobac's paper on the subject on a web search. A great thank you and bravo to her for this work. I find I can make everything myself without all the additives. How did I forget that over the last thirty years? I guess like most people i got too busy and I wanted to believe "they wouldn't feed you stuff that was bad for you".

By anon352606 — On Oct 23, 2013

To say there is no MSG in carrageenan is splitting hairs. The question is how much "processed free glutamic acid" is contained in a product. If carrageenan doesn't have anything to do with MSG, then why not label the foods "NO MSG"? Why, because that is illegal and you can't label a product "NO MSG" if it contains "processed free glutamic acid".

We all have the right to find out from any food manufacturer if there is processed free glutamic acid. I repeat, the trick is to not ask if MSG is in the product, but to ask if "Processed Free Glutamic Acid" is present. Autolyzed yeast, Hydrolysed pea protein, carrageenan, sodium caseinate, "enzymes", "natural", etc. etc. etc etc. are all indicators of its presence. If you find they have no answer or do not know or are unwilling to say, report them to the FDA. Seriously, it's a cheap test -- less than a hundred dollars to find out.

A rose by any other name is just as sweet. MSG by any other name is not! Walk a mile in the shoes of someone who reacts to processed free glutamic acid. Read a study. Start with this one, for example: Holton KF, Taren DL, Thomson CA, Bennett RM, Jones KD. The effect of dietary glutamate on fibromyalgia and irritable bowel symptoms. Clin Exp Rheumatol. 2012 Jul 4.

Check out some stats from the FDA - random choice here. The following label violations(8) were observed in 1999 on or after April 1, 1999

Examples include names of ingredients that sometimes or always contain or create MSG:

Briannas Home Style Blue Cheese Dressing; "NO MSG," Contains: Cheese culture, Enzymes, Vinegar, Buttermilk powder, Natural flavor, Citric acid.

Campbell's Healthy Request Cream of Mushroom, "No MSG, " Contains: Modified food starch, Cornstarch, Whey protein concentrate, Disodium inosinate, Disodium guanylate, Maltodextrin, Mushroom powder.

Campbell's Healthy Request Chicken Broth, "No MSG," Contains: Chicken stock, Chicken flavor (dried chicken stock, gelatin, flavoring) Flavoring, Disodium inosinate, Disodium guanylate

Still not convinced? Well, just carry on. Fill your face!

I hear Pepperidge Farms products are a good choice (Commonwealth of Pennsylvania Plaintiff VS Pepperidge Farm, Incorporated Defendant Civil Action - Equity No 257 M.D. 1991 )

Then again, try reading the FDA rule. It's on their website.

By anon339867 — On Jun 27, 2013

After reading all the pros and cons, I have decided to change they way I eat.

From now on, I will eat no foods, or very, very limited amounts that contain any type of:additives, strange words, numbers, unreadable words, unpronounceable words, things in there that don't seem appropriate to the product, (e.g., chicken, carrageenan), (cream, Carrageenan), dyes, colors, preservatives, etc.

Read labels, folks. Take your reading glasses and magnifying glasses with you to the store and read what's in your food. In short, if there is anything besides cottage cheese in cottage cheese,or cream in cream, or chicken in chicken, think twice before buying it. Look for companies who care. There are many out there, and people should seek them out.

It's time to get back to the way Grandma did it with a few food items. Bake your own bread, make your own yogurt, have fruit trees in your yard, a few chickens, a goat and cook your hot cereal. I think a few homemade goods will do us all good.

By anon337125 — On Jun 03, 2013

For all those people out there taking vitamin pills, did you know that the capsule case is made from hydroxpropyl methylcellulose and that is another name for carrageenan? It's rather worrying. So instead of the vitamins doing you all this healthy good, it is also not doing you so much good!

By anon336728 — On May 31, 2013

I'm so glad to read the posts. I was diagnosed with a gluten allergy, but now I think that was wrong, but it's probably good not to eat it anyway, because of the laboratory manipulation of the wheat supply.

It was the rotisserie chicken that cinched it for me. I had an awful reaction, (but had eaten it in the past) so I didn't connect the dots. Then, I started having a reaction to dairy products, but not all of them.

I also developed a chronic cough from spontaneous mucous in my sinus cavity, running down my throat. The newest chronic symptom is muscle weakness and fingers tingling. I thought that was carpal tunnel, but it could also be a side effect. I'm curious to hear if anyone else experiences any of these symptoms. --RaeMarie

By anon331539 — On Apr 23, 2013

Carrageenan is regularly used as an inflammatory agent in toxicology testing. Just look it up and see what you find. It's injected in lab rats to cause inflammation in specific organs, limbs, etc. Which is why most toxicology researchers are quick to say "Do not eat anything containing carrageenan."

By anon328417 — On Apr 03, 2013

It simply baffles me, honestly. I couldn't even force myself to completely read all the posts. Come on people, carrageenan does not cause cancer, kill brain cells, contain MSG or any of the rest of these insane claims posted. Yes, there will be some people who are allergic to carrageenan; there are some people allergic to water for cripes sake!

The point is, the government is not conspiring against the consuming public, and carrageenan has been thoroughly studied and continues to be studied. If you are seriously interested in getting to the truth of the matter, stop just reading posts and do some real research.

By anon324945 — On Mar 13, 2013

Some people have severe reactions to carrageenan and it is most likely true that it should be removed from our food supply. But these sweeping generalizations are annoying and are not at all based on fact. The comments that some of you have made about the government is practicing eugenics or using things like fluoridation, vaccinations, etc to control the population is utter and complete nonsense. You conspiracy theorists need to find another hobby. We are all responsible for our own health and our own diets.

Every physician I have been to has promoted healthy eating habits and good nutrition. The corporations are out to make money yes, and that is why they use fillers, preservatives etc. They do not want to kill off their customers. What is wrong with people?

Just take responsibility for your own health and read the labels. If you know you have a sensitivity to an ingredient that is safe for the majority of the population, then just don't consume it. But stop accusing the government, which is made up of people, of trying to control or kill off the population. If you really believe they are all out to get you, then you should seek counseling. This is just my opinion, just like the previous posts were opinions.

By anon312341 — On Jan 07, 2013

After a cottage cheese snack one day, I was left wondering why every time I ate cottage cheese, my tummy felt queasy. I felt prompted to research every ingredient in the product, and was led to conclude that carrageenan was the culprit.

Carrageenan is a totally unnecessary ingredient in food. Like, am I really going to have to run to the store to get some if I am going to make home-made ice cream, eggnog or chocolate milk?

Of course the FDA has declared it safe. They are corrupt and were "influenced" by the manufacturers, which, by the way, are not exactly bosom buddy friends of the USA. Combine that with corporate greed. And don't be so sure that there aren't people trying to reduce the population in every way imaginable.

By anon307482 — On Dec 05, 2012

It causes: swelling of liver, joint swelling, limb pain, brain swelling (confusion, stutter, short temper, off balance), red lips, swelling and red ring around the mouth, increased appetite and thirst and bathroom visits.

It's a horrible poison and the USDA is ignoring all of these people's suffering, including my son! Why? Is it just money?

By anon301856 — On Nov 06, 2012

So much for the myths. Consider the facts on carrageenan for a change.

What is Carrageenan? Carrageenan is a naturally-occurring seaweed extract. It is widely used in foods and non-foods to improve texture and stability. Common uses include meat and poultry, dairy products, canned pet food, cosmetics and toothpaste.

Why the controversy? Self-appointed consumer watchdogs have produced numerous web pages filled with words condemning carrageenan as an unsafe food additive for human consumption. However, in 70-plus years of carrageenan being used in processed foods, not a single substantiated claim of an acute or chronic disease has been reported as arising from carrageenan consumption. On a more science-based footing, food regulatory agencies in the US, the EU, and in the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization/World Health Organization (FAO/WHO) repeatedly review and continue to approve carrageenan as a safe food additive.

What has led up to this misrepresentation of the safety of an important food stabilizer, gelling agent and thickener? It clearly has to be attributed to the research of Dr. Joanne Tobacman, an Associate Professor at the University of Illinois in Chicago. She and a group of molecular biologists have accused carrageenan of being a potential inflammatory agent as a conclusion from laboratory experiments with cells of the digestive tract. It requires a lot of unproven assumptions to even suggest that consumption of carrageenan in the human diet causes inflammatory diseases of the digestive tract.

The objectivity of the Chicago research is also flawed by the fact that Dr Tobacman has tried to have carrageenan declared an unsafe food additive on weak technical arguments that she broadcast widely a decade before the University of Chicago research began.

What brings poligeenan into a discussion of carrageenan? Poligeenan (“degraded carrageenan” in pre-1988 scientific and regulatory publications) is a possible carcinogen to humans; carrageenan is not. The only relationship between carrageenan and poligeenan is that the former is the starting material to make the latter. Poligeenan is not a component of carrageenan and cannot be produced in the digestive tract from carrageenan-containing foods.

What are the differences between poligeenan and carrageenan? The production process for poligeenan requires treating carrageenan with strong acid at high temperature (about that of boiling water) for six hours or more. These severe processing conditions convert the long chains of carrageenan to much shorter ones – 10 to 100 times shorter. In scientific terms, the molecular weight of poligeenan is 10,000 to 20,000, whereas that of carrageenan is 200,000 to 800,000.

Concerns have been raised about the amount of material in carrageenan with molecular weight less than 50,000. The actual amount (well under 1 percent) cannot even be detected accurately with current technology. Certainly, it presents no threat to human health.

What is the importance of these molecular weight differences? Poligeenan contains a fraction of material low enough in molecular weight that it can penetrate the walls of the digestive tract and enter the blood stream. The molecular weight of carrageenan is high enough that this penetration is impossible. Animal feeding studies starting in the 1960s have demonstrated that once the low molecular weight fraction of poligeenan enters the blood stream in large enough amounts, pre-cancerous lesions begin to form. These lesions are not observed in animals fed with a food containing carrageenan.

Does carrageenan get absorbed in the digestive tract? Carrageenan passes through the digestive system intact, much like food fiber. In fact, carrageenan is a combination of soluble and insoluble nutritional fiber, though its use level in foods is so low as not to be a significant source of fiber in the diet.

Summary: Carrageenan has been proven completely safe for consumption. Poligeenan is not a component of carrageenan.

The consumer watchdogs with their blogs and websites would do far more service to consumers by researching their sources and present only what can be substantiated by good science. Unfortunately, we live in an era of media frenzy that rewards controversy.

By anon277865 — On Jul 02, 2012

The word "additive" should give you a clue. I make homemade tomato soup at home that has no chemically bathed and extracted ingredients and it it perfectly creamy and rich. My homemade ice cream is also real, has no fillers or "additives", and is also creamy and rich.

The list goes on, but the point is this: if I wouldn't put it in there at home, why would I waste my health and money buying from some company that did?

By trufeather77 — On Jun 17, 2012

Carrageenan, without sufficient testing, is being used in many non-food applications, as well. Toothpaste has been mentioned, and another widespread use is in cosmetics! Almost all commercial foundation makeups and mascara now contain carrageenan.

It is known to re-texture proteins — hence its use in deli meats. And it makes dairy products feel creamy and rich, even if fat-free. The thing that concerns me is, we are made of proteins, too. What is it doing to my proteins? And though each exposure is small, when it's being put into such widespread use, the cumulative exposure is much greater.

One of the worst uses is in "gelatin", which used to contain some actual nutrition. Not only in stores, but also in hospitals, what passes for gelatin is now just sugary water congealed with carrageenan. So a recovering person is possibly being fed something that is making him sick, which might confuse doctors.

By anon275103 — On Jun 15, 2012

An eminent scientist discussed carrageenan's effects on health. Medical Researcher Dr. Joanne Tobacman says it causes inflammation.

By anon274946 — On Jun 14, 2012

My daughter kept getting sent home from school with the flu last year. Then, she was getting sick every time we ate out. I immediately took her to an allergist, who couldn't find a thing. Then she had an entire GI work up and still nothing. She continued to be constantly sick and we tried everything.

Like a good mom, I changed her to soy milk (avoiding milk products)and rice whipped cream, and she was never sicker. She had vomiting, diarrhea, fever, body pain. We were at a complete loss. My friend brought over some ice cream and that is when we were able to pinpoint the ingredient - my daughter went from fine to so sick in less than 15 minutes. Carrageenan is definitely the cause.

The sad part is that it is in so many things - like the milk at school and every special treat they serve at school. They sent her home just yesterday with the "flu". I'm sure she was given a treat by somebody at school and she just didn't know better. I was shocked to see it listed on the ingredients for chicken the other day.

By anon273077 — On Jun 04, 2012

After six months of red, swollen, painful lips and a red stain around his mouth, on and off, I finally took my son to an iridologist, who photographed and analyzed the eye/iris like a tree trunk and she immediately told me he had a carrageenan allergy. She could tell from his eyes!

We followed her diet and supplement suggestions, like MSM by MSN, Histblock, B-12, Field of Greens powder mix, Intestinew and zinc, and it began clearing up right away. It is challenging but it is almost gone. The good news is my nine year old knows he can be proactive in his health.

By anon264081 — On Apr 26, 2012

Research suggests that the food ingredient carrageenan contains degraded carrageenan, which negatively impacts gastrointestinal health and is recognized as a possible human carcinogen. Yet it is a common ingredient in foods, including organic foods.

While it is unlikely that the government will take action to protect our health and remove carrageenan from conventional foods, we do have a chance to see carrageenan removed from certified organic foods. At the end of May, the USDA’s National Organic Standards Board will be voting on whether carrageenan should be removed from the list of approved ingredients in organic foods.

If you agree that organic foods should be free from potentially harmful ingredients like carrageenan, please send a comment to the USDA. The more comments they receive, the more likely they are to vote to remove carrageenan (the carrageenan industry will fight tooth and nail to keep it on the list of approved ingredients).

By anon252255 — On Mar 05, 2012

Well, I've been drinking a lot of this different kind of brand of coconut milk for the past few days, and I thought the ingredients would be harmless, Coconut Milk, Xantha Gum (E415), Guar Gum (E412), Carrageenan (E407). I've been drinking a lot of coconut milk before, without these ingredients, and I felt fine. This brand was cheaper, so I thought, hey, I know these are all natural additives and they're all tried and tested, etc. etc. so I shouldn't mind.

Well, just this morning I had constipation, and a really hard and painful time in the toilet. As far as I know, this is the only thing that I've changed in my diet, a different brand of coconut milk. I've tried some coconut milk brands with Guar Gum in it, so that can't be the problem. The only thing new was "Carrageenan". I'm stopping while it's early!

By anon252240 — On Mar 04, 2012

It is time for the USDA, FDA, processed food industry, and the executive and legislative branches of the federal government to act in the best interests of everyone choosing to be healthy when it comes to food ingredients and packaging by settling on a single version of the truth.

By anon250114 — On Feb 24, 2012

Looks like there's not much info about the different issues carrageenan can cause, except for digestive complaints. My doctor thinks I may have celiac but I haven't gotten better on a girlfriend diet, or on a grain free, dairy free diet either.

I'm wondering if my malabsorption issues can come from carrageenan? Does anyone know this? I eliminated carrageenan about wo days ago when I found this article, although I don't eat much of it, only in restaurant food and my toothpaste. Can it even affect you in just toothpaste without swallowing?

Since eliminating it, I think my chronic swollen glands are subsiding. Can anyone talk about non-digestive issues they have from carrageenan? Or can you talk to any malabsorption or hormonal issues caused by carrageenan? Thanks!

By anon244517 — On Feb 01, 2012

Let's face it, it's just another fancy form of glorified iodine stuck needlessly in food.

They're placing thousands of forms of iodine in your food and health products every day, and it's so bad that people like me are becoming majorly allergic to the product.

If I come in contact with any form I can develop a second to third degree burn or have seizures from it, yet it's considered safe? Why not use berries instead for the dye?

By anon239449 — On Jan 09, 2012

For the creator of this site: many thanks go out to you. I have several allergies. My main allergy is to mold, so I have to be very careful of what I eat, like peanuts, fish and shellfish. because they can also produce mold. I have a tendency to read everything. While I was at work, the only safe food out of the vending machine was an energy milkshake. When I got to my desk, I shook my strawberry milkshake up and popped the top.

I went from feeling fabulous to having anaphylactic shock. It's a good thing I had Zantac and Benadryl with me that day. My supervisor and co-workers grabbed the container I was drinking from and started reading the ingredients. No nuts, no fish, no seafood, no mold. Why are you having an allergic reaction? So they started searching all the ingredients and came across carrageenan: seaweed from the sea and you know that you are allergic to everything in the sea. They were mighty shocked to find out what it was, and the different foods, and products that it is used in.

Since I have a major mold allergy, this was not good. Since I had the energy drink (it must have sped up my reactions) I can no longer eat the foods that I normally used to eat because they contain this dangerous product called carrageenan, which should be banned.

I hope that one day, doctors could include this in allergy testing along with my mold testing. I am learning while looking for carrageenan. I now have to look for carrageenan (Chondrus crispus).

By putriani — On Dec 25, 2011

Sorry, if I come out from the theme of the discussion, but how about carrageenan waste? I think not many people utilize of these materials, do they? What do you think?

By carrageenans — On Dec 15, 2011

I'm allergic to carrageenan!

By anon229305 — On Nov 13, 2011

Does anyone have joint or swelling problems after ingesting carrageenan?

By anon215934 — On Sep 19, 2011

Thank you guys for commenting about carrageenan. I realize that other people, not just me, get it. Yes, many people understand that it will make you sick, but there are also people that understand why they are putting cancer causing chemicals in your food.

Eugenics. Population control. Look at how they put it in everything now. Things that didn't need it before now are desperate to add the carrageenan. Toms of Maine only puts it in their non fluoridated toothpaste. They took out one poison and replaced it with another. It seems that for a company to be allowed to sell something legally in the United States, the product must kill you. Look how they raid people selling unpasteurized cheese and milk -- stuff that will help your body, with automatic weapons.

At least some people get it.

By anon211045 — On Sep 01, 2011

I notified Toms of Maine to ask about the carrageenan in their toothpaste.

I got the usual "Carrageenan is a safe product made from seaweed. Blah blah, blah..."

I quit using Toms toothpaste.

By anon205225 — On Aug 11, 2011

Seaweed derived and synthesized carrageenan are different!

People who talk about the bad effects of carrageenan often fail to mention that most food manufacturers are not using carrageenan from seaweed. They are making it chemically. The natural form does not behave the same as the synthesized form.

To my knowledge, no one has shown evidence supporting that the natural form is dangerous. You need to verify which one is being talked about or tested in any study.

By anon203065 — On Aug 04, 2011

I don't know much about carrageenan but I have been doing prep for an elimination diet for tummy problems. Anyone who thinks food could be causing them problems should investigate the RPAH (Royal Prince Alfred Hospital in Sydney, Australia) elimination diet/failsafe eating. It's the gold standard in working out if you have a food intolerance.

By anon196810 — On Jul 15, 2011

I am a pharmacist. As a child, I was extremely allergic to foods, but outgrew all food allergies. I have never had any major digestive issues as an adult, but did notice off and on that my stomach felt upset after I drank Silk Soy Milk. This really surprised me as I'm not allergic to any milk products or to soy products, including tofu, soybeans, etc.

I continued to drink soy milk putting up with the minor discomforts, thinking the benefits of better health outweighed the minor GI discomfort – until a few days ago. Apparently, my GI system had enough. After a day of drinking coffee with a little Silk Soy Milk, I had terrible cramping, the most foul smelling gas, etc. At one point in the night, I wasn't passing stools but bloody clumps of liquid diarrhea. I was extremely alarmed at seeing blood and I called the emergency room and talked with the nurse right away. I researched the ingredients in Silk Soy Milk and discovered that in animal tests, rats had extreme reactions to carrageenan, including bloody diarrhea.

I was extremely alarmed by these findings and called the company. The company was prepared to answer my concerns, so it appears that they are not at all surprised by these complaints which is really fishy. Their response was that the carrageenan in their products is "food quality grade" carrageenan as opposed to the carrageenan in the animal research studies. I am sorry, but that is insulting to even the average intelligence. You can purify rat poison until you turn blue in the face, but rat poison is still rat poison.

I will be contacting Starbucks upper management to remove this very harmful product from their stores, and replace it with soy milk not containing this harmful additive. I am aware of at least four other soy milk products that don't contain carrageenan. I was informed by Silk Soy Milk customer service that my concern would be "forwarded" to quality control, whatever that means. I strongly believe this company is acting unethically by continuing to produce a product with a harmful additive in it and not even putting a warning label on it for customers. Talk about corporate greed. It would be easy for them to remove this additive and replace it with something safer for consumers as other soy milk producers have done, but I guess the Silk corporation is more concerned with making short term profit than in doing the right thing for its consumers. Not surprising.

By anon185352 — On Jun 11, 2011

Just bought a big jar of MRM Whey Protein powder -- had to throw away entire jar and lose the money as it had Carageenan in it (they also put lecithin, which is likely to be from GMO soy). I definitely noticed intestinal irritation symptoms from carageenan. Apparently, it is also a cancerogen and causes benign growths in intestins. Horrible. These companies hide under the disguise of "all natural" and sneak cancerogens into foods of people who are about their health and protect it. Need to real labels carefully!

By anon184631 — On Jun 08, 2011

After many doctor office visits, a few ER trips, an ultrasound, a few CTs, and two colonoscopies, over a three year period, my third GI (my second GI's partner) figured maybe I had food additive sensitivities, since he also did (although with different symptoms). I asked what tests I could take to see which additives I was sensitive to, he said he wasn't aware of any tests for food additives (at least how they affected the intestines).

So I made everything from scratch and was finally symptom-free for over two weeks, until I began to slowly incorporate commercial foods to see which I could tolerate. Over time, I figured out carrageenan was my absolute worst sensitivity. I could feel the lower left portion of my intestine begin to inflame about twohours after eating carrageenan foods. The inflammation continued until I looked pregnant, and I was in considerable pain.

Other additives I've figured out are annatto (a seed used for flavoring Hispanic foods (like adobo sauce, chorizo), as well as a dye commonly found in orange cheeses; and nitrates/nitrites on a smaller level, but neither of these were as awful as my reaction to carrageenan.

Searching carrageenan on the web, it's easy to find that it bothers a small percent of people, often very adversely. So why is it so bleeping difficult to find cream and ice cream without carrageenan? It took me almost 30 minutes of surfing through food label sites to find Organic Valley's pasteurized cream without carrageenan (not the ultra pasteurized - the ultra does have carrageenan - I learned this from their product page, where many complain about carrageenan). So I used their zip finder for a store near me, and special ordered a bunch of cream to freeze (yes I know it won't whip, but I can use it for sauces that I've missed so much).

If Organic Valley starts putting that awful carrageenan in their cream, I will order goat milk from a lady in the next city to me, until I buy a goat for myself (my city allows milk goats if we obtain a permit first). We can also have chickens for eggs (not meat) with a permit, which I will also consider since I've read some chicken meat is now being perverted with carrageenan.

The food industry will lose me as a customer, because they cause me severe inflammation and pain. --Shreela

By anon174174 — On May 09, 2011

Food does not come from a manufacturing facility. Food grows. If the food you are about to eat wasn't grown, naturally, it is poison. The onset of our modern diseases was first documented around 1920. Food additives began being used in the 1890's. What made us think, and still think today, that a daily diet of chemicals would be okay is beyond me. Eat organic and help fight S 510. The government is worried about the safety of our food, but daily allows us to ingest a cocktail of "approved" chemicals.

By anon170351 — On Apr 26, 2011

@ no. 96: I too was never allergic to dairy or carrageenan. I had been drinking Silk Chocolate Soy Milk for years. Unlike you, I have never had a colonoscopy (not quite 50 yet) but I did have a terrible fall. My spine made a horrible crunching noise. But luckily I walked away with nothing more than one huge butt cheek bruise (and I mean the entire cheek was black and blue). As the bruise healed, I began to get a rash exactly where the bruise was. Then it all went away and for about two weeks things were fine. Then all of a sudden my entire back broke out in a rash. The itching was excruciating.

After six months of doctor visits and testing, they said I am allergic to casein (a dairy protein). So I cut out all dairy but still had the rash. So I cut out the Soy Milk (with carrageenan at the time. I think they may have removed it now. not sure, but not worth chancing again. Would love to try their Coconut Milk but that too has carrageenan) and the rash cleared up.

I have always been allergic to shellfish with a rash reaction, so I assume that means I may be allergic to seaweed as well. I did not test positive for a soy allergy but I guess they could have missed it. The soy milk is really the only soy I was ingesting. I have tried and tried to avoid all dairy and carrageenan. Almost impossible! The only way to avoid it completely is to never eat out and prepare only fresh vegetables for meals. Almost all meats that I eat, whether it be deli meat or meats from the meat market seem to cause trouble. I have read that grocers will inject casein as a preservative in the meat. Only organic will suffice but they are too expensive to eat all the time.

I have a small amount of rash left on my lower left leg. It took over two years for my back to clear up. I have to read and re-read labels every time I buy any packaged products and nine times out of 10, I put the item back due to dairy or carrageenan ingredients.

Maybe it is pure coincidence, but since the spinal cord is a column of millions of nerve fibers that carries messages from your brain to the rest of your body, maybe it could have triggered these allergies in my body.

I wish there was some way to know for sure. So far the doctors have not been any help. Telling me to avoid dairy and carrageenan is almost like telling to avoid breathing.

By anon165800 — On Apr 06, 2011

I have also noticed that i generally feel thirsty/gassy after consuming ice-cream (i am not lactose-intolerant). Carrageenan is a component of ice-cream.

How do you know for sure if an additive is good or bad? Surely, you cannot rely on the companies that produce these chemicals and their biased trials and "studies". I feel that it is better not to believe any clinical trials, no matter how fair they seem. Every person is unique and tests on 1000-3000 people do not have to hold good for the entire humanity. Moreover, these trials are conducted for short periods, so how can one measure the long-term side-effects?

The best thing to do is eat natural, homemade food, like milk, bread, rice, cooked veggies, etc. People with strong hunger will enjoy these foods easily. Those who do not will depend on such additives to encourage them into eating food. That way you reduce the exposure to suspicious chemicals.

It seems that younger generations have more intestinal and behavioral problems (the two can be related). Such additives could be one of the major contributors.

By anon162454 — On Mar 23, 2011

I have no food allergies whatsoever. Last week, after I ate rotisserie chicken, I suffered with a terrible burning stomach, so I searched up rotisserie chicken on-line to see if something in it could cause me such bad distress, and it was the first time I read about carrageenan. I immediately checked the ingredients of my chicken, and sure enough, it contained carrageenan. I continued to check everything I ate that evening, and I was shocked to find two other items also contained carrageenan: coffee creamer and cream puffs! I certainly will not purchase any foods with carrageenan on the label, and hope I don't ingest unlabeled carrageenan.

By anon156774 — On Feb 28, 2011

Carrageenan is a polysaccharide extracted from red seaweed. It seems to be a mystery ingredient causing lots of "allergic reactions". It is also a source of the excitotoxin glutamate. It's becoming impossible to avoid all the poisons because it's being fostered! It's a great rat race but there are just too many rats now. By the way, fluoride is rat poison?

"Somebody's poisoned the waterhole!" Woody, from Toy Story

There are new labeling laws in effect as a result of "Codex Alimentarius" which among other wonderful things, allows for food companies to be more deceptive with ingredients. Many of us are eating and drinking toxins we are unaware of. It is my understanding that now, "artificial flavorings" or even "natural flavorings" can really mean anything, including toxins, for you and me.

MSG, Carrageenan, hydrogenated soy/corn proteins, and there are many other names for "free glutamates" too. In fact, some foods are naturally high in glutamic acid like tomatoes, soy, mushrooms, seeds, legumes etc., and when they are cooked (esp. overcooked, or "processed") they become "free glutamates" which have toxic consequences, especially when eaten with other concentrated sources, and multiple other toxins too!

There are just too many toxins entering our bodies and it's not mere happenstance. Sure it's about industrialization and greed, but its also about eugenics. Excitotoxins, fluoride, heavy metals, vaccinations, etc are methods to control populations, and limit your lifespan. We're a bankrupt nation, and there are just too many baby boomers to care for. Our world is morbidly overpopulated!

"Survival of the fittest"? No, it's the opposite! We have "devolution". It's the poorest, least educated, most disenfranchised populations, that are reproducing the fastest! We'd better address the population issue fast because the "Bilderbergers", who are hoarding the world's power and wealth, already are! The real "Matrix" is here folks. Unplug from your TV (centralized corrupt media system)!

By anon148241 — On Feb 01, 2011

The list of complaints against carrageenan here surprise me. First it is the most thoroughly studied polysaccharide ever to enter the food world - listed as safe in Europe, America, Australia and all around the world. It has been studied to death.

Second, for thousands of years the irish have been using the extract by boiling fresh seaweed to make puddings and cough mixtures and I don't see high rates of allergy in that population.

Third, many of these posts also reflect on 'other' problems like lactose intolerance - and there is some evidence that carrageenan might moderate the effect of that - herewith a reason for thinking about introducing probiotics to the diet.

Fourth, it it used in such minute quantities and very little is absorbed - it passes straight through the gut. I'm not saying that there may not be some people who have sensitivities to carrageenan, but perhaps its worth getting some expert dietary advice that looks at other possible causes and solutions. Also, equating it with MSG is just nonsense. Completely different substances.

By anon147893 — On Jan 31, 2011

@96: Not a colonoscopy, but taking a powerful antibiotic without food (against indication--yes, I am an idiot) destroyed my once powerful gut flora. Result: GERD, an ulcer, and glucose intolerance.

Fun fact: they did a random study of Europeans and found 30-40 percent don't have the enzymes to break down glucose (or produce them in insufficient quantities) but they have bacteria that break the glucose down and bacteria that consume those bacteria's waste products (ie, methane) so they can eat bread, pasta, pastries, etc with impunity. I hate them.

By anon144481 — On Jan 19, 2011

After reading these posts I couldn't resist. I'm going to be condescending: Everyone is different. Some people have allergies and intolerances to different foods.

Yes, it's important to figure out what makes you ill. Even stress alone can give you IBS and make it seem like certain foods are the trigger (as for me). Carrageenan is from seaweed; you extract it by boiling the seaweed. That's it. No fancy chemicals. Some of you are probably genuinely allergic/intolerant to it. Others of you haven't isolated the real reason yet.

But as a marine biologist (and a PhD with a real science degree), I can say this for certain: a carrageenan allergy and a seafood allergy are totally unrelated. Because they both "come from the sea" is the most ignorant reason I've ever read. Can you not eat sea salt? Do you break out in hives when on the beach? Does the sight of a dolphin make tremble and sweat? It's like saying that if you have a corn allergy, you may also have a broccoli allergy because these come from the ground.

Check the ingredients on the labels, eat food from scratch, don't drink diet soda, or any soda for that matter; it is better for you in the long run.

But don't go around telling people that the government wants to kill poor people. It's all about consumer's choice. It's a business. Companies want to sell stuff with maximum profit so they use more preservatives, fillers, and less fresh ingredients. Don't buy this stuff and the crappy food may just go away.

By anon140955 — On Jan 09, 2011

We need pure foods. Pure - meaning, no additives. Why can we not buy 'just' whipping cream, cottage cheese, cheeses, yogurt, etc. that is what they were originally named? Then people like me would not get so sick? No wonder so many have osteoporosis. Strange, at least our foods should be what they are said to be.

By anon131033 — On Nov 30, 2010

I never had any problems with dairy or carrageenan until I had a routine colonoscopy last May. In fact, a frequent favorite lunch was cottage cheese and fruit. Cottage cheese contains carrageenan, and of course it's dairy.

A few days after the procedure I began to have cramps and diarrhea about 30 min after eating. After keeping a record of the foods ingested I figured I'd become lactose intolerant. I began drinking Silk soy milk. That worked for about a week and then that turned on me too. I'd been reading posts on the net about lactose intolerance and carrageenan, so I then eliminated along with dairy all things carrageenan from my diet.

My doctor doesn't seem to have a clue about this and can't believe the colonoscopy had anything to do with the condition, just says, "If it bothers you just don't eat it." So, that's what I do and it works.

I don't go to restaurants anymore, though. I fix and cook my own food and make things from scratch. Probably a better thing to do for all of us in the long run. Anyway, I have absolutely no problems as long as I'm in control of the food I eat. But, long story short I do believe that the colonoscopy triggered this thing.

I think that salt solution prep washed away a few of the enzymes and good bacteria in my gut that lived there before. I don't know if these things will ever come back. Now I'm handicapped in the ability to digest certain things. Carrageenan, though is not always listed in ingredients. Very tricky to avoid it. And I don't think it can be a good thing for anyone to ingest.

I'm interested to know if anyone out there in cyberland can identify the moment of their onsets to various gastric conditions and link that moment to a colonoscopy.

By anon130791 — On Nov 29, 2010

a couple of months ago i ate a free sample of some sausage and afterwords started itching now it is like two three months after it and i am still itching. i even have bumps from my allergic reaction. i still have the bumps and i do not know what i am allergic to and it is not sausage.

By anon129816 — On Nov 25, 2010

To # 78. I too have grand mal seizures from everything you listed. I was eating some left over JELL-O chocolate pudding my mom did not use and it tasted too good. I looked on the pack and saw carrageenan as I only ate two tablespoons of it. No more puddings for me.

Our politicians and FDA are all trying to reduce the world's population from 9,000,000,000 to 500,000,000 so the richest of the rich can live the best of the best life. What better way I guess to eliminate us poor people. Jesus did say though that the poor will help him in judging the world, so why should we worry.

By anon127652 — On Nov 16, 2010

I have recently been tested for allergy to carrageenan and am positive. I break out severely with the hives when I eat anything containing Carrageenan. I am trying to find out all products containing carrageenan. It has been six months of non-stop hives. Hope to get to the bottom of this.

By anon125344 — On Nov 09, 2010

Reading all your comments, convinced me I a also need to avoid carrageenan. I already must avoid msg as it gives me horrendous migraines. But even worse along the same lines as carrageenan is Nutrasweet, aspartame.

When it first began being used in products to replace saccharin I began getting serious migraines and tracked it down to the Nutrasweet. I learned from the Lancet medical journal that it was proven to cause a long list of side effects including migraine, but had been pushed through the FDA because so much money was to be made, and it is still being used and even added to things that also have sugar.

I am a teacher and have a theory that the rise in ADD, ADHD, Asperger's Syndrome and other learning disabilities in children is due to the mother consuming lots of things like diet drinks while pregnant.

For those of you who posted on this blog thank you so much. Looks like we can't trust the FDA to watch out for us so must do our own homework.

By anon119347 — On Oct 17, 2010

I walk as though I am drunk. My head feels as though I had been spun then let go and made to walk alone. I have explosive bowel attacks. Feel weak as a rag doll. There are so many names for carrageenan that I am unkowingly getting them into my system. What can a person do? By the time you realize what you have in your system you are unable to do anything. Even to my pills. I feel as though I am being poisoned.

By anon113787 — On Sep 26, 2010

My son is six and he has peanut and shellfish allergies. I bought him some play clay this week with no listing on it of what was in it, so we took a chance, and within an hour he was itching. I knew there was something wrong so i gave him his antihistamine. He stopped itching.

I phoned the company and they listed the ingredients with no warnings. The only one ingredient that i was unsure of was carrageenan. This now makes sense as he has a shellfish allergy.

By anon110954 — On Sep 14, 2010

Help! My dog has just gone through many blood tests to see what he is allergic to. First on the list is fish. I just found a new dog food, that has carrageenan as the fifth ingredient. Would this have the same effect as fish on doggie? I read it s a veggie, but since it comes from the sea, I'm confused, and need my dog's skin to get well, as he is a triple champion, and I can't stand to see him chew himself raw. Thank you.

By trufeather77 — On Aug 16, 2010

Yes, exactly - it triggers a shellfish allergy, or "seafood" allergy, because it's from the sea. If it's marine, it probably contains iodine, which is what they think is the root of a problem with seafood.

The other thing they're using a lot is "alginates". "Sodium alginate", and others, as ingredients in foods as common as mayonnaise. They're from algae, also a marine product, and hard to guard against.

People need to realize that these things are making people sick, and at least warn people in the allergy warnings at the end of ingredients lists on package labels. They have no idea how much misery they'd be relieving.

By anon104041 — On Aug 14, 2010

This is my problem: we know that carrageenan is what I'm allergic to, seeing as its the only commonality between the foods/medicines/drinks that set me off, but I don't get the IBS symptoms; instead I get an allergic reaction, i.e. hives and rashes.

So can carrageenan be linked to shellfish allergy? I've never touched shellfish in my life and I don't feel like trying now.

I'm not getting any help on this and my grandmother who was a nurse has never heard of carrageenan!

By trufeather77 — On Aug 04, 2010

This is exactly what bothers me so much. No one tests this, they let it out into the marketplace, and they cause a decade of misery and diminished health, as well as an actual threat to someone's life and happiness. All for greed of the people selling this stuff.

There are other such products as well: alginates used in simple things like soy mayonnaise and other non-seafood products. They change the ingredients in products you've been using for years, and don't warn you.

My health was affected for years, because carrageenan was put into my Crest toothpaste. Interestingly, they later removed it, also without altering the label. (They did change the ingredient list, but no one would check it after using that brand for years.)

I woke every morning with what felt like a hangover, and I don't drink. This affected me at my work, and affected people's perceptions of me. I eventually lost my job in a layoff, and election was affected by my appearance of low energy and ill-health.

There should be an investigation of the effects of any new food ingredient, and warn people that a product they've trusted for many years is now going to be poisoning them and undermining their health. Ben & Jerry's, for instance, started including seaweed, and didn't change their labeling, either. Apparently "Now contains seaweed!" isn't considered a great selling point.

Of particular concern is that "Jello" served in hospitals is often not gelatin at all -- it's sugar-water congealed with seaweed, which can cause misleading and contradictory symptoms. I was served it in an emergency room.

By anon101043 — On Aug 01, 2010

After 10 years of undiagnosed diarrhea, I finally figured out it was carrageenan. For people who are convinced it is safe, let them spend a few hours with me after a single scoop of ice cream. It didn't kill me and I never became so ill that I couldn't function. However, I was rundown and afraid to eat.

Now I read the labels and my life is better. This is a real problem. Maybe it is safe for many people, however to those of us with an intolerance of it, it hardly seems fair that we can't enjoy simple foods because they contain this one ingredient.

By trufeather77 — On Jul 15, 2010

That's kind of the point: Nobody knows what it does, because it's just approved without being fully tested. There are many factors in any disease. We're just saying that carrageenan should not be slipped into everything from toothpaste to deli meat, to ice cream and eggnog, to children's chocolate milk - even to the fake Jello that they're serving now to sick people in hospitals - without research and without warning.

I'm not even trying to make people stop using it, just warn me so I (and many thousands of others with seafood sensitivities) don't have to get sick.

The worst thing is that almost no doctors seem to be aware of it, and people who are getting sick from it will doubtless get treated for things they don't have, because of the confusing symptoms.

By anon96292 — On Jul 15, 2010

I have tried reading as many as the above posted messages as possible but i have no clue as to whether carrageenan is dangerous or not. Somebody mentioned Crohn's syndrome and that carrageenan was among the mentioned ingredients. Does it have to be only carrageenan? Is there any scientific proof?

By anon95595 — On Jul 13, 2010

It does get very discouraging, doesn't it, when they seem to be sneaking toxic stuff into the most innocent-seeming things.

Until recently, I felt safe if I bought something like whole chicken parts, instead of something processed (like sausage, patties, or deli meats). But I got a rotisserie chicken at the grocery store the other day, and hidden in the ingredients (how can you have 'ingredients' in a whole chicken?) was carrageenan.

But don't lose heart! As more people become aware, maybe they'll do something about this. And meanwhile, I've been trying to shift my diet to more plain fruits and vegetables, as a means of avoiding additives.

In Ireland, I'm told, they're against chemical fertilizers and even Genetically Modified Organisms, so they won't let in almost anything from the US. When I traveled there for about 10 days, I couldn't get enough of the vegetables (ate them copiously), and came home having lost a few pounds.

The fact that our foods are not nourishing us, and are in fact giving us problems like your seizure, has to be the reason that Americans are obese and obsessed with losing weight. I try to look for foods with very short ingredient lists, with words I can pronounce. You're not alone.

By anon94913 — On Jul 10, 2010

I agree with everyone who's been saying carrageenan is dangerous and bad for you. I can have a grand mal/ tonic clonic seizure from carrageenan. I was not aware though, it has been in lunch meats at stores.

Maybe there's no great amount of carrageenan to affect me but that is not saying my brain has not stored it until I get that right amount to trigger a grand mal seizure. What can I eat?

It's not just carrageenan because MSG, nitrates, soy additives and aspartame all could trigger a seizure. Yes, every food, even organic, now has these toxins in them. Maybe we're just part of God's plan to go home to him before he returns. The sooner the better for me.

By anon94811 — On Jul 10, 2010

Thanks for the information. I too, am sensitive to this ingredient. I reacted to a soy milk (with carrageenan) but not tofu (without carrageenan). I've found there are carrageenan-free milk alternatives; you just have to read all the labels to find them.

To anon38227: my frequent migraines are very rare now that hypothyroidism has been found and treated by my doctor. Ask whether you've been screened for this. It's a blood test. If you are young it is probably not part of routine tests. That might not be the cause of your migraines but it is worth ruling out.

Prescription meds are much better than over the counter meds for real migraines. Please don't just suffer through them like I did. Migraines are awful.

By anon93422 — On Jul 03, 2010

After dinner tonight I broke out in hives for the first time in my life. I ate what I thought was a meal of things I'd eat many times in my life. Actually, I'd had a no- meat hot dog (Yves brand-tastes just like the real thing). Tonight I researched the ingredients and the only thing I could come up with was this one. I'm not itchy but I can feel them on my face. It's a shame because I really enjoyed it and would have purchased them in the future.

By anon91464 — On Jun 22, 2010

I like carrageenan! I'm allergic to eggs so instead of eggs they sometimes use carageenan.

And it's great for marbling paper!

By anon91334 — On Jun 21, 2010

Good for you. Many people do, however, and my "issue" with it is that it's not sufficiently tested. They don't know what it does to human bodies, because no one's really bothered to look - the rush to profit by people who provide the seaweed.

I think we'll come to regret it, in terms of medical bills, health distress, and debilitation towards disease. People are also gung-ho about using seaweed as fertilizer, and I think that's majorly shoveling against the tide as well.

By anon91249 — On Jun 20, 2010

I never really had any issues with carrageenan at all. I don't understand. Am I the only one who doesn't seem to have a problem with this particular food additive?

By anon90131 — On Jun 14, 2010

I was diagnosed with Crohn's disease in the summer of 2009. However, a few years before when I was still experiencing symptoms of Crohn's, my mother looked up a list of foods that set off people with IBS and other bowel disorders. Carrageenan was on that list.

All of a sudden it made sense why I could drink milk and be fine, but drinking soy milk and eating ice cream gave me endless diarrhea and fevers.

The worst thing about this is no one knows what it is, and it's in so many things. You can't go asking at restaurants if a certain dish has carrageenan in it (normally miso soup, or ice cream from independent ice cream parlors) because the people working there have no idea what it is.

By trufeather77 — On Jun 11, 2010

P.S. Most of the meats sold at deli counters now has "carrageenan" in the ingredients list. Even if it doesn't, it gets sliced on the same machine as the meats that do, so you get it anyway.

Why is it in there? Because it re-textures the proteins - it takes little pieces of chicken and melts/glues them into a loaf that can be sliced. But has the FDA tested it effects on human proteins? By the time they do, many people might be gravely ill.

By trufeather77 — On Jun 11, 2010

I'm so thankful to find that other people have noticed this, too! Carrageenan has not been sufficiently tested, and it's in widespread use in the (always polluted) American food industry.

New low: I even discovered it in the ingredients for a whole rotisserie chicken! It's in some toothpastes, dairy products, lots of vegetarian 'meats', ice creams, and many more. Alginates are another, related item: they will have a word like "potassium" followed by "alginate", which I believe means it's related to algae. I can't even use most mayonnaise now (esp. soy mayonnaise) because of that.

Many people are dragging through their days feeling exhausted, suffering headaches and swollen eyelids, or other allergy symptoms, because the FDA is not protecting us the way it should, and the "ingredient" list in our foods looks like the formula for rocket fuel.

If we didn't have almost entirely fake foods (adulterated or produce sprayed to look ripe), Americans might not keep eating (and gaining), looking for the nutrients they need.

FYI - I don't think it is the same thing as monosodium glutamate, or MSG. Carrageenan is a seaweed, also known as Irish Moss. In many, many people, both of these cause multiple, diverse symptoms of distress which are therefore confusing to doctors.

By anon87929 — On Jun 02, 2010

this ingredient seems to be in everything. I'm glad I've read up about it though.

By anon87618 — On May 31, 2010

I've been diagnosed as lactose intolerant for 35 years and six months ago started having a bowl of cereal every morning with Silk Vanilla soy milk. Within a few days I had horrendous breakouts on my skin (cystic) after never having skin problems. Thinking I was allergic to soy, I stopped drinking it and was careful not to have soy products.

Last week I started eating Fresh and Easy Fudge bars. They are dairy but didn't upset my stomach so I was very excited. Within one day I was having the horrendous breakouts again (side of face, behind ears, scalp). I thought it was something else I had starting eating because I was trying to go vegetarian. Nothing else I cut out made it stop. So I downloaded the ingredients for the soymilk and compared them to the fudge bars and the only common ingredient was Carrageenan.

I've stopped eating them and the breakouts slowed down immediately. It seems like it takes a while to get this out of your system as well.

By anon84091 — On May 13, 2010

I discovered this allergy in 1998 after having problems with chocolate milk but not regular milk. It's in toothpaste! I am not allergic to small amounts so coffee creamers and toothpaste don't seem to bother me. Most Breyers ice creams do not have it.

On a vacation to the Philippines I had a fresh seaweed salad! What a mistake! I spend the entire next day in the bathroom! No hives, trouble breathing though. I have been having chest pains and thinking maybe this is related to some of the foods posted here that I had no idea carrageenan was in. I will have to start watching labels again! I tell everyone to keep a food diary as this is how I put two and two together!

By anon79957 — On Apr 25, 2010

Wow, I'm blown away by all the information others have posted here and grateful.

I'm 52 and learned only a few months ago from my sister who's battled horribly disabling migraines as well as intestinal issues for years that carrageenan is another name for monosodium glutamate.

That was a major revelation for me as I've had IBS symptoms, headaches, and arthritis for most of my life, had all the medical tests many of you mentioned and like so many, have shown no allergies to any of the usual suspects but am always told it's irritable bowel.

Upon learning of the msg-carrageenan link I've scanned labels for that as well and have had fewer problems. After learning that soy milk often had it, I found a Trader Joe's organic brand without carrageenan. Unfortunately, yesterday I purchased another Trader Joe's product, an 'organic' whole-grain milk. Never occurred to me to read the label so this morning I used it with a 'Namaste' gluten/corn/wheat free pancake mix. Since eating breakfast, I've had the worst tendinitis in my knees in ages. Not realizing the connection yet, I got out the whole-grain milk and poured myself a small amount to drink.

After downing it I read the label and what do you know? It has carrageenan in it. So now my digestive tract's doing its usual bloating, cramping and so on and I'm relatively certain I'll be spending a significant portion of my Sunday off in the bathroom eventually.

Yet another of life's lessons learned the hard way. Read the label, read the label, read the label.

It's also intriguing to note that there's a possible connection to shellfish. This rang a particularly clear bell for me, as just last weekend we went razor clam digging, and after eating two absolutely delicious fried clams for dinner on Saturday evening, I was laid low for the rest of that night, had intermittent bouts of bloating, diarrhea and cramping into Monday. I may never know if it was due to the clams themselves, the fact they were fried or some other culprit but my gut (literally!) tells me 'stay away from the clams!'

Yes, it's extremely frustrating to know that not enough is being done to promote the spread of information to the general public of just how much of a problem carrageenan has become to so many of us.

Along with high fructose corn syrup, which I've long ago learned to avoid, it's made dining a far too often unpleasant experience for those of us who are intolerant of it.

On a positive note, being sensitive to certain additives and choosing to avoid them at all costs makes for a pretty efficient weight loss plan. Keeps us out of the processed food aisles and eating fresh foods a whole lot more!

By anon79239 — On Apr 21, 2010

I have struggled with painful cramping, bloating, and other digestive problems for the last 25 years. Around a year ago, I began seeing a GI to determine the cause of my pain. After expensive and sometimes invasive testing, we thought I had lactose intolerance, then Celiac's, then IBS. After trying to cut out lactose, wheat/gluten, and other trigger foods, I was still in pain.

Finally, I took my diagnosis into my own hands. For 6 months I tracked everything I ate and when I had reactions. The final conclusion? carrgeenan.

I react immediately to this ingredient, and the pain can last from two hours to 24 hours. I have now eliminated carrageenan from my diet, although I am continuing to find it where I wouldn't expect it.

I have begun to compile my own list of offending foods. If anyone knows of a more complete list, please share!

Foods with Carrageenan:

Ice Cream (except for Breyers)

Sour Cream (except for Daisy)

Cottage Cheese (except for Old Home)

Flavored Coffee Creamers

Chocolate Milk

Soy Milk



Light Mayo & Mayonnaise

Salad Dressings

Slim Fast Shakes

Chicken (ex: pre-cooked chicken to put on salads, rotisserie chicken from the grocery deli, etc.)

Sandwich meat

Frozen entrees (ex: any entree with chicken, also random meals like Lean Cuisine's pumpkin squash ravioli).

Buitoni pastas

Chip and Veggie Dips (ex: french onion, dill dip, spinach dip, etc.)

By anon78690 — On Apr 19, 2010

The best thing to do if you want healthy food is grow it yourself if you can. If you can't, stick to one-ingredient foods, not processed foods. Carrageenan is poison in the amounts the average American ingests it and if anyone thinks the FDA or anyone else cares, they are 'dead' wrong. The only one to truly know and care what you or your children eat is - you.

By anon75813 — On Apr 07, 2010

carrageenan gives me horrible crippling migraines. I discovered it one day when i ate a take 5 and a pay day and was lying in bed for hours. if they took carrageenan out of commercial ice creams, the first thing I'd do is grab myself a big bowl.

Since i can't even make homemade ice cream anymore, they started putting the stuff in heavy cream (even organic kinds) how am i supposed to make a decent cream anglaise without heavy cream?

I'd probably grab myself a turkey sandwich too. I can't have those anymore, since it is in most deli meats.

I'd also really enjoy a take 5 and a pay day. Oh! and cottage cheese. It's showing up in that too.

Chocolate milk is something i miss too.

I can't have commercial hot chocolate mixes, so i have to make my own.

The list is growing. Pretty soon, i might not be able to eat anything?

By anon74539 — On Apr 02, 2010

Every Lean C frozen meal has carrageenan. My sister has been having unexplained intestinal issues and running a low grade fever for about a month now.

She drinks "delight" coffee creamer every morning in her coffee and it has carrageenan in it. She has also taken herself off all dairy and is presently on a self-induced food-elimination diet.

We have a history of allergies in our family - so this would be right up our alley.

I have had my allergies “come back with a vengeance” over the past few years. I know for a fact with tests I have done with my own foods that when I eat carrageenan I itch all night, have bloating, unexplained and immediate diarrhea, migraines and blemishes.

I saw a post that mentioned a baked chicken from a supermarket. I tried an off brand’s chicken the other day and had a very bizarre reaction to it! Now I know it was carrageenan!

But what a shame for all the big food production companies to be taking the easy way out and causing so much pain in so many people just to save a buck.

Discovering that kids these days have unexplained allergies from previously non-allergic parent could be explained by the fact that the babies receive all these new allergens gestationally and develop allergies!

By anon64832 — On Feb 09, 2010

Yes, carrageenan is extraordinarily dangerous. It is loaded with excitotoxins which destroy brain cells.

Russell Blaylock MD has a wealth of info the media is suppressing showcasing the deadly and debilitating effects of what were consuming on a regular basis, even those of us making a concerted effort to guard out health. Do the research, it'll infuriate you.

By anon64453 — On Feb 07, 2010

I discovered on my own after several doctors appointments and a diagnosis of irritable bowel syndrome, that the culprit was in my coffee creamer that I had been using for years. I know that carrageenan is also in soy, rice, and almond milk. I stopped using the creamer and feel much better now.

By anon58296 — On Dec 31, 2009

Please tell me if any form of carageenan is safe or if contains gluten, is non GMO, contains MSG or any MSG by any of its various names. Also, I am avoiding it, even in toothpaste, not just food like Food for Life or any supposed natural or organic foods.

Chemically, is there any difference between what is used in food or health care products or the grade or type, if there actually is a pure safe source of it or if it is actually beneficial to us at all? Thank you.

By anon55600 — On Dec 08, 2009

I was tested for Carrageenan. My allergist ran every food allergy test he had but that one is not available. However many labs can test for it via bloodwork.

By anon52384 — On Nov 13, 2009

anon25285 I am a medical student and I undertook a module on diet and colorectal cancer. I too was shocked to learn about the dangerous tumour promotion that carrageenan can cause.

By anon52292 — On Nov 12, 2009

For over the past five years I assumed I was allergic to garlic -- yes, garlic. I've not been to an Italian restaurant since assuming I was allergic to garlic.:-(

Yesterday evening I had a Swiss Miss Hot Chocolate dry drink mix. Within the hour I started having severe stomach pain. My wife had made a quiche for dinner and I assumed the sausage she used must have had garlic as an ingredient, but it didn't. Again today I had another Swiss Miss Hot Cocoa drink and again developed severe stomach pain. I called the manufacturer (ConAgra Foods) and found the ingredient carrageenan was in the mix. I'm not implying this drink mix is the culprit of all my pain, but time will tell.

By anon51880 — On Nov 09, 2009

Why does anon25285 worry about horse pee? After all many menopausal women take it. That is what they use to make estrogen hormone replacements from.

By anon51218 — On Nov 04, 2009

To no 49: About soy products; soy milk is rich on glutamate, and this is a toxin to the body. For more information read books of Russel Blaylock!

By anon49045 — On Oct 17, 2009

I may have had migraines as a result of consuming almond milk that contained carrageenan. I ate cereal with almond milk every day for three weeks, and over this time I noticed that I started getting headaches, and then had an itchy skin crawling feeling for two days, finally followed by a migraine. I can't be certain it's the carrageenan, but I keep meticulous food diaries and it's the only thing that changed in my diet. I also have a soy allergy which causes stomach upset and migraines, and now I will also avoid carrageenan at all costs! Thank you all for the information.

By anon48988 — On Oct 16, 2009

If your allergic to carrageenan, that is one thing, but how do you determine if it is safe, with all the biased information out on the internet trying to sell you their products?

By anon48529 — On Oct 13, 2009

I discovered today I am allergic to carrageenan and I have discovered in the last few years I am allergic to any soy product and perhaps to legumes in general (garbanzo, lentils). As a reaction I get a swollen throat or swollen tongue or swollen lip and sometimes skin rashes. There are scientific discoveries written on white papers that for some people soy is a toxin. I know this to be true.

By anon43843 — On Sep 02, 2009

Since using Kondremul for a laxative, I noticed I was having difficulty sleeping and suffering from more headaches than I would normally have. Is there any connection between carrageenan and these symptoms?

By anon41277 — On Aug 13, 2009

To the person who stated that soy is a toxin: please cite your sources. I have seen articles online touting such information. But if you research the bibliographies of some of these, tests are found to be inconclusive. I have been drinking soy milk for years, became pregnant and my son has been drinking soy milk since he was a toddler (after I stopped breast feeding). He is *very* much a boy - shows normal signs of testosterone levels, etc.

Please stop spreading propaganda! Dig a little deeper, if you will. Thanks.

By anon38705 — On Jul 27, 2009

I discovered I was "allergic" to carrageenan after getting sick drinking certain soy drinks, particularly Bolthouse Farms delicious protein soy chai. I would get gas, cramps, bloating, and sometimes diarrhea. I started thinking I had a soy allergy so I did research and found it may be the carrageenan.(Dr. Weil's website mentioned a link to esophageal cancer!) Sure enough, with C-free soy milk-no problem! I have been happily avoiding carrageenan ever since!

Carrageenan being added to so many things is similar to the mercury in the vaccines. A little might not be a problem, it's the cumulative effect that causes toxicity. If it were only in one food we ate once in a while (when people ate more whole foods and less packaged ones) we may not react the same. I think we all need to contact the food manufacturers and let them know the demand for C-free foods! One day, we will see that on the packages like we see "Gluten-free" today. Better yet, they will stop using it completely.

By anon38227 — On Jul 24, 2009

Through more than 2 years of trial and error, I am *certain* that I am alleric to carrageenan. The horrific migraines I get every single time I eat or drink something with carrageenan are telling. I avoid the things like dairy that I know contain carrageenan (as well as artificial sweeteners that trouble me, like ones in diet soda and Crystal Light), but every once in a while something will slip by me. Just the other day, I had a terrible one after having a turkey sandwich at Panera. Came home typed in turkey sandwich carrageenan and there you go. I had no idea it was in lunch meat. I had to give up my beloved coffee creamers, too. Through trial and error, I've found aspartame and other artificial sweeteners, carrageenan, and soy lethicin to be terrible triggers. Hope this helps save someone else the dabilitating pain Ive suffered for years. And, I am certainly appreciative of any feedback as I still suffer from migraines, although much less often now that I have eliminated those things.

By anon32649 — On May 25, 2009

Does anyone know if carrageenan is transmitted through breast milk from mom to baby? My baby is having digestive issues, even after I cut all dairy and milk proteins out of my diet (2 months ago).

By anon25285 — On Jan 26, 2009

Hello all. I am on here because I recently read in a book, "Health and Nutrition Secrets That Can Save Your Life" by Blaylock, that carrageenan (a food additive which is similar to MSG) actually increases cancerous tumor growth and causes inflammation. Also, this additive is "excitotoxic" which means it causes the body to produce glutamate or in other words releases free radicals into the body. I think this is a great book for anyone that is interested in MSG and carrageenan. The book also includes many other topics but I found this to be particularly alarming because this additive is everywhere. I am concerned because I recently bought my kids over-the-counter vitamins which contain this ingredient. If it was near the bottom of the list it might not be too much of a concern, but it is in the mid-top.

I know some of you have said that you have an intolerance, or are sensitive to carrageenan, obviously for those people it is best to avoid it. What about the rest of us? Is it still OK for us to consume, what about kids? Personally, I don't trust the FDA and knowing that this additive is in almost everything makes me very uneasy! How is it possible to avoid it, especially with kids who are bombarded with junk all day?

I think an important thing to remember with carrageenan is that just because something is natural doesn't mean it's good for you. If someone told me that drinking horse pee is OK because it is natural, I'd have to dispute that!

By anon24370 — On Jan 11, 2009

Thank you for this site. I found it to be very helpful. I doctored for about 8 months before I discovered on my own that my symptoms were related to eating foods containing carrageenan. During that time my first GI recommended removing my gallbladder. When my symptoms continued, I sought advice from a new GI and was diagnosed with celiac disease and Barrett's esophagus. After eliminating all gluten from my diet, I still had the same symptoms...horrible bloating of the abdomen.

Through a process of elimination and very careful label reading, I discovered it definitely was carrageenan. I did not have one attack since then, until last night when I used a package of dry onion soup mix which contained MSG. It felt as though something was burning a hole in my intestine. I searched online and found that there is a connection between MSG and carrageenan. Having eliminated all gluten from my diet has probably made me a bit more sensitive to food additives, but if this helps someone else who is having unpleasant reactions to eating carrageenan and/or MSG, it will be worth the time spent posting my message.

By anon24291 — On Jan 10, 2009

Hello to all, I had an intolerance test done 9 months ago called the ImmuPro 300, and Carrageenan (E407) was one of many intolerance (level 2) that I have discovered I have. I have always been extremely sensitive to everything that I eat, meaning that if it does not agree with me I will know quickly. Although when there are so many ingredients in everything we eat except for whole foods, it is so hard to diagnose. I would suggest to anyone who can afford to spend close to $1000.00 dollars for this test, to get it. It has helped me to unweave a lot of mysteries, and to those who have time and can put in the effort I would love to see that test become the norm for allergy tests, and paid by the Government in Canada, or by insurance companies in the USA if it is not. I am am so happy to see people put in the effort to help others. susan

By anon23747 — On Jan 01, 2009

Hello! I am 31 year old father of 3 that has been suffering with Dyshidrotic Eczema and digestive problems for almost 15 years until recently. After many attempts with different doctors - allergists, dermatologists, immunologists, gastro specialists, etc. - and many different diets and drugs with not even remote success, I had pretty much given up on finding what the trigger(s) were for my problems. The doctors I had seen threw every disease at me from a simple allergy, to Crohn's disease, irritable bowel syndrome and stress while never linking anything directly to my skin problems except an allergy, which according to the allergists, I was only mildly allergic to dust mites. It turns out they were wrong.

Recently, I had managed to get my skin and stomach under control. I had a fairly restricted diet (similar to that of a low-dairy diet) for quite some time when all of a sudden I had a major outbreak from only one new thing that I added to my normal foods, which was a new flavor of coffee creamer (from Nestle). The good thing about this was it had only a dozen or so ingredients so it was easy to compare to foods I had been eating for quite some time with no reaction and eliminate the common ingredients. One ingredient stood out - CARRAGEENAN. It is in Soy Milk, almost all dairy products, jellies and jams, toothpastes, and a myriad of other things. In some cases, it is also called AGAR and for most people, it is harmless and causes no problems for them. For others like myself, the stomach acid is a little stronger than other people and so their stomach breaks the molecule down further, allowing it to be passed into the blood when it normally wouldn't be, and as a result it turns into a carcinogen that the body attacks with an immune response, which in my case is inflammation of the digestive tracks and then inflammation of the skin (which is likely due to the area of my intestines that this substance passes through). Carrageenan is used in research labs to intentionally induce inflammation in the intestinal cells of lab animals. For me personally, when this substance enters my body, all hell breaks loose. First my stomach and bowels almost immediately react, then between 2-24 hours later, my skin as well as my lymph nodes would become inflamed and I was one miserable person. It also caused cysts behind my ears and patches of red, dry skin on other parts of my body that I was told would never go away, and they have. I have to admit, I was pretty skeptical at first, but could not refute the results of my own very thorough self-testing.

With some additional research, I also found that in these labs where they use carrageenan for testing, the interleukin-8 compound is found to be increased when testing with carrageenan on intestinal cells... coincidentally, that same compound is also found in the areas of the skin during an eczema outbreak when a biopsy is done. Is it just coincidence? Maybe... I'm not a doctor, but I did go to college (for something else) and was top of my class, so after testing myself by purposely consuming more amounts of this substance to see the effects, I was able to find the trigger for my stomach problems and my skin problems, both of which have completely gone away as long as I avoid that ingredient, which is still very difficult because of how many things it is in. What I also found interesting is that there are several people who have been diagnosed with IBS, Crohn's, lactose intolerance, Celiac disease, which still had problems after very restrictive diets of only Soy Milk and soy based products (which usually contain carrageenan) that as soon as they eliminated this substance, most if not all of their problems went away. The best diet so far has been all fresh foods and just making sure that I stick with brands I know don't manufacture or use this substance in their foods.

The tricky thing that other people need to be aware of is that this ingredient is not listed on every product that it might be included in, especially chocolate. I also found that several different chocolates cause similar yet milder problems, and it wasn't until I contacted companies and demanded that they find out what additional products might have been used but aren't listed (because of loopholes in the laws) that I found this same ingredient used as a thickening agent in chocolate processing. I found it in my toothpaste, my ice cream, my sour cream, my cherry pies, soy milk (from SILK), prescription pills, and several other cheeses and dairy foods. I'm sharing this information because I hope that you can pass this along to others and warn them about what kind of "natural" substances can also be harmful (carrageenan is made from Irish moss, or seaweed so it appeals to vegetarians and is used in many vegetarian foods like Tofu) and how to keep track of what you eat in a journal every single day for every thing you eat and drink. Write down all of the ingredients or keep wrappers and boxes. Immediately following an outbreak, look over the ingredients in the last 24 hours and compare them to everything else that has been safely consumed to find the ingredients that are upsetting the body. There is so much information available online, you just have to know where to look and find it.

Everyone has different allergies or foods that effect them, but this single ingredient is drawing a lot of attention, and I can personally testify to the fact that it is the one thing my body can't handle and have seen that others have had similar related problems. Even if carrageenan is not the problem for everyone, it is very easy to fully document every ingredient in every food you eat and keep track of them over time with outbreaks, and this was the key to solving my problems after 15 hard years. I hope this can help someone else and I will be sharing this with as many people as possible because I think it's a shame what companies will put into foods to save a buck, because that's really what this is about. It's cheaper to use less milk if you can use something to make it thicker that is "natural" because it came from the ocean, even though it is processed with acids that would melt the skin right off of someone's body - a.k.a. Carrageenan / Agar. Thanks for taking the time to read this and please keep the information flowing.

By anon22921 — On Dec 12, 2008

I was so thrilled to find this discussion, I discovered my allergy to carageenan a couple of years ago and I am anaphylactic, even hospitalized once. So many people thinks its harmless, I started to think I was crazy. Several people have asked for a list of things to be careful of, here's what I avoid in general: cream cheeses, sour cream, ice creams (except H-D thank goodness), puddings and custards, and ready made sauces. Read the label carefully if you have something fat-free or lite to make sure its absent. There are brands of all of the above that don't have carrageenan like H-D or Friendly Sour Cream, you just have to read the labels, if the ingredient list is short you are usually okay. The one thing that really surprised me was artificial-aspartame sweeteners, usually in the little packets, can have carrageenan so watch out for those. You can check the GFSA Online food additive index, somebody else said that too, you will see a pretty large list of potential products. I also discovered in my research that carrageenans are either classified as refined or semi-refined and that the semi-refined carrageenans have cellulose as a filler. This piece of information was valuable because I have trouble with some cheeses that come shredded, I put together that they all contained cellulose, and now I know why that's a problem. After I was anaphylactic last year, I was desperate for anything that might help. I read a research article about a study where Lifeway kefir (its a really strong yogurt that I get at my regular grocery store) blunted allergic responses, check it out on their website. I drink kefir everyday since I read that article and have not had a serious episode this year.

By anon20653 — On Nov 04, 2008


I have been researching Carrageenan for the past 3 years. I developed an acute sensitivity to it that I now can trace back 20 years or more. Go to " GSFA online food additives" and search out carrageenan. You will not believe how many foods it is added to. You have to now start with the assumption that it is in everything, contact the company and say that you have an allergy to Carrageenan and its salts. You must tell them that it does not have to be listed in the ingredients list, or they won't look into it carefully enough. It is also used in raw meats and chicken to hold the moisture after cooking (chicken feed as well), almost all off the shelf baked goods (keeps fresh and moist longer). All of this is easily found out if you take the time to contact food manufacturers. The government claims that a certain amount of Carrageenan in our diet is harmless, but in the last 3-4 years it is used in almost all prepared foods. Does this now shove us all over the limit of consumption.

It seems a case of the left hand not knowing what the right hand is doing. The medical world does not seem to know anything about problems Carrageenan causes when we are being silently over fed the product. And by the way: it is also in the Barium solution you get administered with a barium enema. It is not listed on the ingredients list there either!!

By anon20535 — On Nov 02, 2008

I had abdominal bloating and gas which started about 8 months ago. I had gallstones which were asymptomatic, but surgery was recommended. Since surgery in June, I continue to have the same symptoms. Doctors in my community were not able to find the problem, so I went to a new GI in a larger city. The first test he did was a blood test for celiac disease, which came back positive. I had an upper GI to confirm the diagnosis. Have faithfully eliminated ALL known gluten from my diet as directed. I continue to have painful bloating and gas in the middle of the night so I am up for hours at a time. After keeping a food diary and being an avid label reader, I think I have discovered the problem...Carrageenan! Not only is the medical community not familiar with celiac disease, but now I find out that food additives, which apparently are affecting many people, are another major problem that they are not aware of! When is the FDA going to start cracking down on all of the crap that is being put into our food supply? Everyone keeps saying, "Where is all the cancer coming from?" Duh! Why can't they connect the dots?!

By anon20502 — On Nov 01, 2008

Carrageenan is extracted from seaweed using alkali solvents. If you took high school chemistry, you probably remember the pH scale, 7.35 being neutral. 7.35 is alkaline. Alkaline will dissolve your skin as quickly and easily as acid. I check all labels now for carrageenan free products. No more gastric upset for me.

By anon19903 — On Oct 21, 2008

I had an allergic reaction to Baskin Robbins Peanut butter and Chocolate ice cream..tingling tongue, swollen lips, itching, shortness of breath. It was immediate and I ended up in the hospital...My Rast showed positive allergy for milk but I have noticed since going dairy free for 4 weeks I have had some mild reactions including severe GI problems and pounding heartbeat after eating soy milk and soy cheese. I tried Tofutti Ice cream and it severely upset my stomach...the only connection is Carrageenan.....I was not tested for this. I think it is the Carrageenan and not the milk. My RAST showed positive for moderate milk allergy and I have never had a problem with milk to my knowledge. It is all so confusing. I check for any dairy, milk or Casein but now will check for Carrageenan. There is lactose in many medications and now I will check to see if the Carrageenan is in any of my medications. Thanks for having this discussion.

By almond — On Oct 14, 2008

I appreciate this discussion because I have had some intestinal discomforts that I couldn't explain in the past. Carrageenan could well be the culprit if it is in lunchmeats!

My recent problem with ZonePerfect Dark Chocolate Almond nutrition bars is what brought me here. On two separate occasions I had the diarrhea after eating two of these bars in the same day. The first time, I blamed something else because I couldn't imagine ZonePerfect products causing me any problem.

I had eaten their Chocolate Almond Raisin bars for a long time with no problem. Carrageenan is listed as an ingredient in the Dark Chocolate Almond bar and not in the Chocolate Almond Raisin bar. I will be reading labels more closely now.

By anon16142 — On Jul 30, 2008

I am lactose intolerant. I have known this for some time. (Which is really very sad since I love coffee made with hot milk and not water.) It wasn't until my son started eating solid foods that I realized that milk wasn't the only problem. He would get hives, diarrhea, and blistering diaper rash from milk products. I removed all milk products from our diets (I was still nursing) I tried soy milk but that only helped the hives. I tried RiceDream plain and no screaming at changing time! By the time he was 2 I took him to an allergist for testing and told the doctor that he seemed to be allergic to milk, carrageenan and possibly dust mites (was taking Zyrtec nightly to prevent breathing problems). She tested him and it showed only a mold allergy. When I specifically asked about carrageenan she spoke to me like I was an idiot said that carrageenan is a chemical and it was impossible to have an allergy to it. If my son reacted to it, it wasn't because of allergy and there was nothing she could do.

Several people stated that they were positive for allergy, are they able to take medication for carrageenan reactions?

Are we talking about 2 different kinds of reaction? One an allergy and one an intolerance?

Things I have been reading on other sites make it sound like that most if not all people should have negative reactions to consuming carrageenan.

By anon16024 — On Jul 27, 2008

I have been diagnosed with food intolerances recently. I have an intolerance to brewers or bakers yeast and anything that is fermented including msg. I have found that carrageenan is actually another form of msg. So if any of you are experiencing any symptoms it is probably an allergy to the highly intolerant and toxic msg!

By anon14049 — On Jun 09, 2008

"How dangerous is carrageenan? Is it dangerous at all?"

It's not dangerous at all, if you're not allergic to it.

"Carrageenan is or can be from seaweed."

Carrageenan is ALWAYS from seaweed, not algae. Seaweed is simply a plant that grows underwater. There are many kinds of carrageenan-producing seaweed, similar to how there are many varieties of lettuce.

"...this horrible additive..."

The word "additive" makes it sound so chemical-y. and it's not horrible in and of itself, any more than peanuts are. Carrageenan is a completely natural product, and like many things from nature (nuts, shellfish, strawberries, tomatoes, bee stings, etc.) some people's systems cannot tolerate it. If you've never had an adverse reaction to a product containing carrageenan, don't think it's something you need to avoid on principle. But if you do know or believe you're allergic to it, the foods where you're most likely to find it are anything gel-like (from toothpaste to fruit filling) or liquids that would normally settle if you made them at home (like salad dressing and chocolate milk). You might also keep an eye out for "alginate" on product labels, as it is another seaweed-derived product.

By anon9297 — On Mar 03, 2008

I am really glad to have discovered this site in my quest to find validation for my belief that I am highly allergic to carrageenan. I also believe that I'm lactose intolerant (for, let's say, 55 years now, not to date myself...), but now this discussion group casts some doubt on that. I'm not sure that I want to test the theory, though, considering the violent cramps, bloating and explosive diarrhea that have always resulted when I consume any dairy product. However, I've noticed, as some people have said, that there are certain brands of ice cream that I've tried in the past that do not create the problem. A glass of milk, though, does do it, so perhaps I AM lactose intolerant. Anyhow, I digress...I have also been diagnosed with ulcerative colitis, after a horrendous 8-week episode of rectal bleeding. The gastroenterologist has prescribed six tablets of Asacol per day, 2 pills 3X daily. This, along with cutting out all dairy, seemed to calm down my digestive tract. Then, I had some flare-ups and was totally confused because I was simply using soy or rice milk. I purchased The book "Natural Health, Natural Medicine," by Andrew Weil, MD, in an attempt to try to figure myself out. Lo and behold, in the section about IBD, Ulcerative Colitis and Crohn's Disease was the advice "Avoid foods made with carrageenan." Additionally, the book says: "[Carrageenan] is suspected of causing ulcerations and possibly cancers of the gastrointestinal tract." Yikes! I had never heard of this ingredient, but I started checking my pantry. Yup, the seemingly "soothing" soy AND rice milk I was using contained carrageenan (Warning: it also can be listed as Irish Moss or Red Moss ~ it's the same as carrageenan ~ if you see it, run for the hills!!). Also, the salad dressing I thought was bland had the thickening agent carrageenan listed!! ALSO, a rotisserie chicken from the supermarket listed carrageenan as an ingredient in its poultry rub! I was crazed, but also felt like I was experiencing an epiphany! I wasn't "nuts," I was definitely allergic to this ingredient. Other people, including, at first, my husband, looked at me like I was wacky. they didn't have any problem with this seemingly innocuous item, what was the big deal? Hello! Try ingesting it and then suffering intestinal distress to the point where you're homebound! So, I started scouring the supermarket shelves and found that there definitely ARE soy and rice milks without the carrageenan added! They're hard to locate, but keep checking every container's ingredient list. Thank the Lord that it appears to be required to be listed! I've discovered that, most times, the soy/rice drinks noted as "organic" do not contain the carrageenan, a.k.a. "red moss" or "Irish moss." Also, I looked at cottage cheese, yup, carrageenan ~ haven't located one that doesn't contain it. Now I'm completely afraid to eat anything in restaurants that isn't just a straight, unadorned baked potato or vegetable. Also, as some people in the discussion have noted, lunch meats can contain it ~ where do we find the ingredients on the lunch meats sliced in the deli? I've just been avoiding any of them at all. Saves money ~ you just never eat out! :) also, I noted that one person mentioned that their child can eat a batter-coated product from one fast-food place but not from another. An educated guess would be that the thickening agent in the batter that upset the stomach was the dreaded carrageenan. On my next gastroenterolgy check-up, in April, I plan to bring this up with my doctor ~ I am hoping that he is aware of a test for carrageenan allergy, just to confirm my belief. He has tested me for celiac disease, with, thankfully, negative results. I am also hoping that he doesn't look at me like I'm nuts when I start talking about this.... Thanks so much for the opportunity to "vent" and share about my situation! I'm sorry that others suffer from this allergy, but I am glad to have found some outlet for discussion.

By anon7754 — On Feb 01, 2008

I thought this was interesting.

A new study by the National Cancer Institute has revealed that a seaweed extract called carrageenan can prevent human papillomavirus (HPV) -- a sexually transmitted disease linked to cervical cancer -- from entering human cells.

Researchers found that carrageenan -- derived from red algae -- strongly inhibits HPV from attaching to human cells, which prevents it from entering and infecting the cells. "We were floored by how much better it worked than anything else we have tested," said researcher John Schiller of the National Cancer Institute.

Carrageenan is already in use in sexual lubricants as a thickener, and researchers hope to eventually develop the seaweed extract into an inexpensive gel that could help curb the spread of HPV, which infects 50 percent of sexually active women between the ages of 18 and 22.

The researchers said carrageenan was shown to somewhat affect HIV and herpes, but that genital HPV was a thousand times more susceptible to the seaweed extract. While Gardasil comes with possible side effects including pain, swelling, erythema (redness of the skin), pruritus (itching) and fever, carrageenan is widely used in baby formula as a thickener, and is completely safe to ingest.

By anon7497 — On Jan 28, 2008

Washington, DC

About 2 years ago I determined, via at-home food-elimination dieting, that I was allergic to CARRAGEENAN. When I eat anything with even a tiny trace of Carrageenan I get horrible acne around my mouth within a few hours. So, please take note for those of you who may also be allergic -- that not only is carrageenan in most soy milks and soups, but it is added to almost every deli meat, i.e., ham, bologna, roast beef, salami, pastrami, pepperoni, corn beef, hot dogs, et al., and it is added to many other prepared foods like stews, meat & poultry rubs, salad dressings, etc. yikes!! Read those labels before you buy.

If you are allergic to carrageenan, as am i, then I thought you may be interested in learning some other items to which I am allergic ...

red & yellow food dyes -- I get diarrhea w/in hours.

legumes, ie., peas, beans, peanuts -- I get gas.

dairy & eggs (no mayo!) -- I get acne + gas + diarrhea.

citrus fruits (including tomato) -- I get diarrhea.

fish, i.e., tuna, salmon -- I get excessive gas

bananas -- the skin on my heels became hard & thick!

seeds & nuts -- I get a terrible rash on my back

As you may have guessed, all these allergies do present a problem, ie., I now have a very limited range of diet. but, I am now free of gas, acne, rashes and diarrhea!

In general for breakfast I eat instant oatmeal with water and some sort of pastry made w/o dairy. I also have tea or coffee with carrageenan-free rice milk.

I almost never eat lunch, but if I do, it's usually a burger or chicken.

For dinner, I'll have either steak, burgers, chicken, and/or pork chops. I also have some veggies, potato, and salad (w/o cheese or tomato).

Snacks: plain corn chips, rice cakes, et al.

Hope some of the above helps you figure out what's bothering you. Good luck!

By jliscar — On Jan 24, 2008

I too am severely allergic to carrageenan... It typically presents itself as hives, swelling of the hands, feet, lips, eyes and occasionally esophagus. The reaction is related to the amount that I consume. As a result of the allergy, I take Zyrtec everyday and scrutinize most everything I eat to ensure that it doesn't contain carrageenan. When a breakout happens I have to take varying amounts of Prednisone to counter the reaction. Milkshakes were my favorite snack until I discovered my allergy. since then I haven't had a shake... I find that Hagen-das doesn't use carrageenan as a thickener, since this discovery, we have become very good friends...

By anon6761 — On Jan 08, 2008

If you are allergic to carrageenan, you may be allergic to seafood(shell fish), and barium, which is used for gastrointestinal test. My allergist gave me a skin test after I suffered a severe allergy episode at a hospital. (I was short of breath, and had the itchy red eczemas after drinking barium). Prior to that I did experience terrible stomach cramps and explosive diarrhea any time I had some milk products. Now I read labels, avoid carrageenan and my problems have been solved. It is sad to say, but the health care community is not aware of carrageenan allergies. When I mention it at a hospital or even at my other doctors office, I'm ask "What is that".

Your allergist can give you a skin test for it, mine did.

By anon6707 — On Jan 07, 2008

I just experienced a "silent migraine". In past years, this was caused by estrogen meds but at age 78 I do not take estrogen any more. These usually last 20 to 30 minutes and cause distorted vision and intense "tummy pain". Trying to find the cause of this unusual occurrence, I realized I had eaten couple pieces of Hershey's Pot of Gold. They seemed too sweet and thankfully quit with 1 1/2 pieces.

In checking the ingredients I came across CARRAGEENAN. I have known for years that creme de menthe chocolate mints triggered migraines but why?? Perhaps years of diarrhea are related to carrageenan. Going to try eliminating soy products.

Never too old to learn new helpful things.

By Mgates50 — On Nov 27, 2007

I was just doing a search on ingredients of milkshakes and cappucinos for a common ingredient in both besides the milk factor. I found carrageenan in both and discovered this website. I knew I wasn't lactose intolerant since I could drink milk just fine but every time I drink a cappuccino or drink a milkshake I get terrible intestinal cramping and cold sweats accompanied by 3-4 hours of diarrhea. I saw the last posting and realized I was not alone in this allergy. Thanks for this great website. I will be watching for carrageenan in everything I eat and drink from now on.

By qwerty — On Nov 26, 2007

Re: soy is a toxin

I am Asian and I know for a fact that soy milk - unfermented and in all its beany goodness - has been in Asian diets since almost 2000 ago...long before it was ever introduced into Western diets. However, there has never been a strong correlation between soy milk consumption and breast cancer. In fact, you will find on Wikipedia that:

1. Plant estrogen intake, such as from soy products, in early adolescence may protect against breast cancer later in life.[23]

2. Plant estrogen intake later in life is not likely to influence breast cancer incidence either positively or negatively.[24]

See Soybean under Wikipedia for more information. The data is linked to some fascinating research on phytoestrogens.

Don't be fooled by internet myths. Always check your references for legitimacy.

By anon5402 — On Nov 23, 2007

I have done a personal study about carageenen and I have educated many coffee stands about soy. when asking for non dairy all they offer is Soy and the least expensive ones which are most have this ingredient in them. I know people that think their lactose intolerant and really its just caregeenen. I would love to enjoy sour cream and salad dressings in a restaurant but of course that not so great ingredient is in all. I think food companies and restaurants and coffee shops should have alternatives. Rice milk or almond milk instead of soy!! Keep educating as many as possible and keep reading labels to stay healthy.

By anon5317 — On Nov 20, 2007

I was having migraines a lot more than usual, then I started noticing that a lot of the food I was eating contained carrageenan. I started reading the labels more, and started purchasing items without carrageenan in it...ice cream, cottage cheese, yogurt and coffee creamers, just to mention a few, and my migraines decreased.

By anon5106 — On Nov 13, 2007

Over the years I've noticed an odd sensitivity after eating certain foods. First my teeth & gums hurt, my tongue itches and my insides quiver. I have a terrible nights sleep (tossing & turning & clenching my teeth). I was told by my doctor that I suffered from anxiety, but I was certain it was a food allergy, as it only happens after eating certain foods like ice cream & yogurt, and drinking certain types of beer & wine. I thought maybe it was sulfites, but after checking labels whenever I have one of these episodes, the ingredient that I kept seeing is Carrageenan. Thanks for the information on your site, now I know I'm not crazy.

By anon4422 — On Oct 17, 2007

Do an Internet search, and you will find a connection between carageenan and arthritis! It seems to cause it in lab rats!

By anon4275 — On Oct 10, 2007

Here it is Halloween again and trying to make it this year without my 3 year old having breathing problems from carrageenan - breathing problems that take nearly a month to clear after an incident. Does anyone have information on how candy is made because I believe you cannot trust the ingredient list. A teacher tried to give her candy corn today and although it was not listed as an ingredient I asked her not to try it since the package had a disclaimer that said may contain peanuts, milk, whey and listed every other allergen they could think of. So I guess that means some candies re-use machines and could contain any other ingredient used in any of their other candies, right? I know M&Ms are carrageenan free but don't trust any others yet. Poor baby what's the point of trick or treating...

By anon4247 — On Oct 09, 2007

First, this in in reference to the woman about how she cut her diet down when she was feeding. I noted that your diet included oatmeal...a wheat! Kick that out of your diet and see what happens.

Second, for all those soy-lovers out there, soy is a toxin! Please don't say, "well all the Asians eat it and they are healthy" because they only eat minimal amounts. And soy sauce is fermented, which is completely different.

Also, soy is a phytoestrogen- it mimics the hormone, estrogen. When a male eats large amounts of tofu and other food high in soy, he will begin to form mammary glands. Women, when they eat a lot of soy, they are ingesting the equivalant to 5 birth control pills!!! And the vegetarians wonder why they have a hard time getting pregnant and why they do not have a menses cycle!!!

Do a little research. Remember, the producers of soy will show you their research, not everyone else. They just want to sell a product!

Mothers! Please try and feed your babies a non-soy formula is you cannot breast feed. Breast feeding is best for your babies and gives them a better start. Also, you breast milk passes on antibodies from your immune system because your child cannot make is own right now.

By anon4174 — On Oct 05, 2007

I have been eating "Fruit by the Foot" and it has carrageenan in it. I have been experimenting with different food that I eat, because I was not sure what was causing me to itch all over. I stopped eating these fruit roll-ups and it went away. Just to make sure that it was the source of my itching problem, I ate another one today and within 10 minutes I started to itch all over. So I looked at the label to find out what was in the ingredients that could cause this and found that it contained Carrageenan. I googled this, which brought me to this website. Thanks for this information on this site, I think I may have found the source of my problem.

By anon4160 — On Oct 05, 2007

I just received the labs back on my daughter's blood work, which confirm an allergy to carrageenan. I'm now in the process of confirming which foods I think she has a problem with and which ones do contain carrageenan. She's had many problems with "jellied" type candies, especially Swedish fish. Any other lists that people know of?

By anon4022 — On Sep 29, 2007

Has anyone ever had migranes as a reaction to carrageenan?

By anon3730 — On Sep 14, 2007

I just realized tonight that carrageenan is the only possible ingredient I could be allergic to. I bought this ice cream that is little dots. I noticed that I was having to use my asthma meds more often since buying it, but tonight, my face is swollen, including my throat and I have small red bumps on my face, neck, and chest. this has never happened before, and I have eaten things with all the other ingredients before... goodness, just what I need, another allergy. thanks for all your sharing, that is how I found the information.

By anon3648 — On Sep 10, 2007

I went into anaphalaxis after drinking soy milk for the first time. The only things I can be allergic to are soybeans and carageenan. My tests for soy came back positive but not so severe that it should have put me in the hospital. My allergist said there is no way for him to test for carageenan but it seems that some of you have been tested for it. If you have, can you tell me where you were tested?

By anon3523 — On Sep 03, 2007

My 3 year old daughter is allergic to carageenan - it was an ingredient I suspected since she reacted to even a bite of ice cream - except Haagen Daaz, no carageenan :). My doctor found a lab to test for carageenan and confirmed it. She was adopted from China and previously only one other carageenan allergy I found on the web was also adopted from China. She also reacted badly to a mint once that did not list carageenan as an ingredient so I now worry about candies infected with it during its manufacture. We are sticking with m&Ms only for now. Anyone have other candies they reacted to?

By anon3435 — On Aug 29, 2007

What an odd allergy. My daughter gets violently sick when eating BW3 and Chickfila nuggets but McD, BK and Wendy's are fine. She also had problems with pre-made formula which contains this horrible additive. I am glad that I am not crazy.

By anon3412 — On Aug 28, 2007

I was diagnosed with a carrageenan allergy at the age of 30. I was misdiagnosed for many years before learning of this allergy and a peanut allergy. When I was first diagnosed, 5 years ago, it was not yet required that carrageenan be listed on food labels. Now, from what I've heard, companies do need to list it. Does anyone have a list of foods/products that carrageenan is in? I have some, but am often surprised when I have a reaction to something and don't find carrageenan on the label.

By anon3028 — On Aug 06, 2007

I had thought I was allergic to soy...as a vegan that would put me "up a creek." But I realized the only soy products that give me the horrible stomach pains and cramps are soy milk and soy ice cream. Tofu, tempeh, and other soy products (that do not have carrageenan) do not give me any problems. I have no other food allergies that I am aware of, so this is very surprising to me.

By apfischer — On Jul 30, 2007

My son is allergic to milk, eggs, beef, oranges but not soy. He can drink soy formula, but when I give soy milk, he gets diarrhea and a raw heinny, I believe it is the carrageenan, I am glad to have figured it out, but what do I feed him besides formula?

By anon2133 — On Jun 29, 2007

I think I am allergic to Carrageenan and/or seaweed. I am not sure which it is or both. At first I noticed it in foods with seaweed. My reactions increased in severity overtime with the worst being passing out and being sent to a hospital Emergency Room. Most recently I have had gum pain after eating ice cream. I checked the label and saw Carrageenan. I just recently learned that Carrageenan is or can be from seaweed. I have had allergy testing, but don't believe that they tested for Carrageenan. I hope one day it is added to allergy testing.

By anon2004 — On Jun 23, 2007

I think my 7 month old son may be allergic to carrageenan. He has confirmed egg and milk allergies, but something is still causing him very itchy eczema that disturbs his sleep. I am nursing him and cut my diet down to rice, oatmeal, lamb, turkey, and rice milk--and he is still reacting! I saw that one of the ingredients in the rice milk is carrageenan--Any other info on this topic would be much appreciated!

By anon1639 — On Jun 09, 2007

My son had a terrible time with formula (issue with breast feeding) and we went down the "hypo-allergenic" road of baby formula--less lactose, soy, chemical, highly chemical. He got better as we went back "up" the formula chain. The biggest change was the carageenan and where it fell in the list of ingredients. I have to assume that as we went to less carageenan he had fewer issues. I accidentally fed him some eggnog (lots of carageenan) instead of milk and he projectile vomited on me within a minute. Lots of carageenan.

I also believe that I am affected by it. Both my son and I can drink milk made with chocolate syrup but have a terrible time with pre-made chocolate milk. What's the difference? Carageenan.

I put it down as an allergy for him and people look at me funny. Heck, I'm allergic to rosin. No one knows how to diagnose and deal with the odd allergies.

By anon990 — On May 10, 2007

Looking for anyone that is allergic to the food additive carrageenan.

By anon254 — On Apr 19, 2007

I discovered about 7 years ago that what I thought for several years was lactose intolerance was actually a severe reaction to carrageenan. I could eat all I wanted of an ice cream that was carrageenan-free. But, even a small bowl of ice cream with carrageenan could be followed by cramps and diarrhea.

Whenever I tell anyone about this I am generally made to feel stupid or feeble. Anymore I just feel embarrassed and usually just try not to ever say anything to anyone about it. But, over the course of the last 7 years or so I have proved to myself over and over again that my reactions are carrageenan induced.

All I know for sure is that I can guarantee myself a massive stomach ache and often even hours on the toilet whenever I eat anything with much carrageenan in it. I had an episode several months ago and didn't even realize it was carrageenan until several days later when my wife pointed out that some lunch meat I had purchased contained carrageenan.

By anon220 — On Apr 18, 2007

How dangerous is carrageenan?

Is it dangerous at all?

Tricia Christensen
Tricia Christensen
With a Literature degree from Sonoma State University and years of experience as a All The Science contributor, Tricia...
Learn more
All The Science, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.

All The Science, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.