Carrageenan joining the ‘Villified Ingredients’ list?

America’s WhiteWave Foods Co, citing consumer feedback and not safety concerns, plans to remove carrageenan from its Silk and Horizon Organic products. Carrageenan, a purified extract of red seaweed, is used as a natural and approved thickener and stabiliser in many food and beverage products.

High-profile activist food blogger Vani Hari, also known as “The Food Babe,” applauded the move and urged her readers to avoid all products industrywide that include carrageenan on the ingredient list.

An announcement on carrageenan appeared Aug 21 on Facebook pages for the company’s Silk and Horizon Organic. Soy milk, almond milk and coconut milk are sold under the Silk brand. Organic milk is sold under the Horizon Organic brand.

“Even though it is safe, our consumers have told us they want products without it,” the Facebook postings said.

The decision to remove carrageenan from Silk and Horizon Organic products was made months ago, the postings said. “This change will occur gradually over the next two years, as it takes time to work through the many formulations of our various products.”

Hari heard about the planned carrageenan removal before the Facebook postings and wrote about it in her Aug 19 blog.

“Let’s help to be part of this sweeping change to remove carrageenan from our food supply by avoiding all products with carrageenan and ask companies who are still using it to drop it,” she wrote.

In a blog in February of this year, Hari wrote about Subway using azodicarbonamide (ADA), a dough conditioner, in its bread. Subway at the time said it had been planning to remove ADA from its bread. Since then the restaurant chain has done so.

The latest attack on carrageenan appears to stem from a March 2013 report from NGO, The Cornucopia Institute, titled, “Carrageenan, How a ‘Natural’ Food Additive is Making Us Sick”. The Cornucopia report said animal studies have shown food-grade carrageenan causes gastrointestinal inflammation and higher rates of intestinal lesions, ulcerations and even malignant tumours. The NGO has the mission of “Seeking economic justice for the family-scale farming community”.

The FDA allows carrageenan’s use as a direct food additive.