Regulatory authorities in every region of the world including the United States, Europe, China, Japan and Brazil have found carrageenan safe for use in food. This includes a July 2014 review by the Joint FAO/WHO Expert Committee on Food Additives (JECFA), which “concluded that the use of carrageenan in infant formula and formulae for special medical purposes for infants up to concentrations of 1000 mg/L is not of concern”. The committee based their decision on the results of a new safety study that will be published in early 2015 and the results from numerous dietary studies that replicate the way humans ingest carrageenan to come to its conclusion.
In addition, experts from the World Health Organization have placed carrageenan in the best possible category for any food additive, noting it “does not in the opinion of the committee represent a hazard to health.” The International Agency for Research on Cancer has found carrageenan to be non-carcinogenic.
There’s decades of scientific research that shows carrageenan is safe for use in foods and personal products and does not contribute to the development or formation of tumors. And while these studies prove carrageenan’s safety, there is still misconception. Here’s a sampling of the body of work that supports carrageenan’s safety claims.
Myra L. Weiner, Toxicological Properties of Carrageenan. Agents and Actions 32, 46-51, (1991)
This paper summarizes and references the major toxicology studies that support the use of carrageenan in food.
S. Cohen, N. Ito, A Critical Review of the Toxicological Effects of Carrageen and Processed Eucheuma Seaweed on the Gastrointestinal Tract. Crit. Rev. Tocicol. 32(5): 413-444 (2002)
In this study, scientists review the effects of carrageenan on the gastrointestinal tract and dispel erroneous conclusions that had suggested carrageenan could cause cell proliferation or tumor formation. The study was submitted to and reviewed by the Joint FAO/WHO Expert Committee on Food Additives. The conclusion: carrageenan is not a carcinogen, not a tumor promoter, nor a tumor initiator.
M. L. Weiner, Nuber D., Blakemore W., Harriman J., and Cohen S. A Ninety-Day Dietary Study on Kappa Carrageenan with Emphasis on the Gastrointestinal Tract. Food and Chem. Toxicol. 45: 98-106 (2007)
This study was specifically designed to evaluate carrageenan on the gastrointestinal tract. The sample of carrageenan used in this study was characterized for the low molecular weight fraction. After ingesting this carrageenan in feed for ninety days, no adverse toxicological effects on the gastrointestinal tract of the rat or any other organ system or tissue were observed.