Coronavirus: Thread

grarpamp grarpamp at
Mon Aug 21 20:24:32 PDT 2023

The Vax, Carrageenan, and "Meat Glue",
among many things they try to stuff you with...

Carrageenan—The Thickener That’s a Sickener
How a common food additive has been causing serious health implications
FEATUREDFood Additives

Epoch Health Bookshelf
Jun 30 2023

(Colleen Michaels/Shutterstock)

Editor’s Note:

Believe it or not, most of the processed food we eat contains a
thickening agent called carrageenan. Studies suggest this food
additive is a toxin that contributes to food intolerances and
allergies. In the book, “A Consumer’s Guide to Toxic Food Additives”
authors Bill and Linda Bonvie introduce the many additives in our
everyday food and ways we can identify and eliminate them from our
diets. In this book excerpt, we will be looking at carrageenan.


Judging from the number of commercials on television for drugs
designed to relieve various gastrointestinal ills, one can easily
conclude that millions of Americans are afflicted with a variety of
such problems, ranging from bloating and discomfort to serious
conditions such as irritable bowel syndrome and ulcerative colitis.

Could it be, however, that many of these maladies are the result of a
single “badditive”, one that’s long been considered so safe by virtue
of being “natural” that it’s even allowed in organic food, despite a
growing body of scientific evidence that it’s anything but?

The answer is a resounding “yes.” If you’re among those who suffer
from chronic stomach issues, it’s quite possible that they might be
alleviated simply by removing from your diet any processed foods that
contain the ingredient carrageenan.

Carrageenan is used in a wide variety of processed foods and
beverages, ranging from coconut water, low-fat dairy products, and
dairy substitutes to nutrition bars, deli meats, and precooked
chicken. It serves as a thickening agent, giving food a nice texture
and fatty “mouth feel.”

However, this tasteless, non-nutritive seaweed derivative has long
been shown to cause harmful gastrointestinal inflammation and
intestinal lesions.

It can also be replaced with safer ingredients that serve similar
purposes, such as guar gum (which FDA researchers back in 1988 found
did not produce colon damage in lab rats, whereas carrageenan did).
[1] In some instances, all it takes to achieve the same effect is
simply to shake a product’s container before consuming its contents.
Yet carrageenan continues to be used by many food companies, including
some that claim to have only “healthy” ingredients in their products.
How Regulators Muted the Alarm Set Off by Carrageenan Research

Concerns about the safety of carrageenan date all the way back to
1969, when researchers linked its use in food to gastrointestinal
disease and colon cancer in laboratory animals.

In 2013, The Cornucopia Institute, a non-profit farm policy research
group based in Wisconsin, detailed the scientific studies and other
evidence against this ingredient in a report titled Carrageenan: How a
“Natural” Food Additive Is Making Us Sick, which strongly urges
consumers to avoid foods containing it. The report noted that “[f]or
individuals who consume carrageenan on a regular or daily basis, the
inflammation will be prolonged and constant, which is a serious health
concern since prolonged inflammation is a precursor to more serious
disease,” and pointed out that there are over 100 human diseases,
including cancer, associated with such constant inflammation. [2]

The Institute also sent a letter to then-FDA Commissioner Margaret
Hamburg requesting reconsideration of a citizen petition filed in 2008
that asked the FDA to ban the use of carrageenan in food, which was
turned down by the agency in 2012. The petition had been submitted by
Dr. Joanne Tobacman, a physician-scientist at the University of
Illinois at Chicago, who had spent almost two decades studying the
effects of this additive and published 18 peer reviewed papers on the

“When a body of publicly funded scientific literature points to harm
from consuming a common, widely used yet unnecessary food ingredient,
the FDA should act in the interest of public health,” said the letter,
which was signed by Charlotte Vallaeys, the Institute’s Farm and Food
Policy Director, who noted that every claim that supports the safety
of carrageenan in foods and beverages “can be refuted, based on strong
scientific evidence.”

Her letter also included an appendix of studies that were both
favorable and unfavorable to the petition, pointing out that those
supporting it were funded by public and private institutions with no
financial interest in the outcome, whereas the ones that didn’t were
“almost exclusively funded by the industry that profits from the
continued use of carrageenan in food.”

The letter further noted that “there are no benefits to society or
public health from adding carrageenan to foods or beverages,” which is
done “solely to change the texture of food.” [3]

As in so many other cases involving entrenched food additives, the FDA
declined to act on that request. Undeterred, in April of 2016, The
Cornucopia Institute came out with an updated 49-page carrageenan
report bearing the subtitle New Studies Reinforce Link to
Inflammation, Cancer and Diabetes, which includes detailed summaries
of scientific findings from 1969 through 2016, charts and graphs on
technical issues, consumer responses related to carrageenan and
gastrointestinal symptoms, and even a section devoted to food
manufacturers’ responses to scientific data about carrageenan.

In other words, this is more than merely a superficial evaluation. As
you read through it, you soon realize that the staffers of the
Institute have really done their homework on this issue and put
together what you might call a gut-wrenching “rap sheet” that should
be setting off regulatory alarm bells. As of this writing, however,
their efforts and expertise appear to have made not one iota of
difference to the FDA’s policymakers, who, as other instances
chronicled in this book demonstrate, are seldom known to declare a
food additive they have previously approved to be unsafe and order its

Carrageenan, as the latest report notes, comes from red seaweed and
can be processed into either what’s called “food grade” or “degraded”
varieties. Degraded carrageenan, recognized as a “possible human
carcinogen,” is not permitted in food by virtue of being extremely
inflammatory—so much so that it has been extensively used in
scientific studies to induce inflammation in laboratory animals in
order to test certain drugs.

While “food grade” certainly sounds safe enough, numerous studies have
shown even small levels of this version, which is commonly added to
food products, are enough to cause inflammation in the human colon as
well. That, the report claims, is due to carrageenan having “unique
chemical bonds not found in other seaweeds or gums” that have been
found to trigger an immune response in the body similar to that caused
by pathogens like Salmonella, which in turn causes inflammation of the
digestive tract. And prolonged inflammation, it points out, can lead
to other serious diseases, including cancer. [4]

Perhaps most disturbing, however, are findings that “food grade”
carrageenan isn’t really the harmless product it’s cracked up to be.
For one thing, none of the samples analyzed by six different
laboratories at the request of the European Commission were entirely
free of the degraded version considered to be a cancer risk, with one
lab reporting that two-thirds of its samples had in excess of 5
percent (the highest amount found in a sample being 25 percent). For
another, studies that simulated the acidic conditions in the human
gastrointestinal tract found that food-grade carrageenan could be
converted into the “degraded” variety through the process of
digestion. [5]
How Eliminating Carrageenan From Their Diets Has Changed Some People’s Lives
Epoch Times Photo (fizkes/Shutterstock)

To get an idea of just how disruptive to the digestive system
carrageenan can be, you need look no further than the “Consumer
Responses: Carrageenan & GI Symptoms” section in the Cornucopia
Institute’s latest report on this ingredient and its effects.

In response to an online survey posted by the Institute over a
three-year period, some 1,397 individuals reported either that their
gastrointestinal symptoms had completely disappeared or greatly
improved after giving up foods containing carrageenan.

A resident from Manitoba, Canada, for example, describes having
suffered “tremendous stomach cramps, body aches, and extreme bloating”
lasting from twenty-four to forty-eight hours after eating various
foods. She then discovered from a food journal that these foods all
contained carrageenan. Since removing carrageenan from her diet, she
said, the problems stopped; however, she noted that she had to be very
careful not to ingest even the smallest amount, as it will cause her
“hours of suffering.”

Another respondent from Morgantown, West Virginia, tells of “nonstop
throwing up and sweats/chills,” visits to the emergency room, needing
fluids and medication, and becoming severely dehydrated. All tests
failed to find a cause except one, which involved a barium drink
containing carrageenan. When the drink caused profuse vomiting, she
realized that the ingredient was the probable cause.

Then there’s the St. Louis resident who describes having
gastrointestinal pain that “would literally incapacitate” her after
consuming ice cream and coffee shop smoothies, though she was not
lactose intolerant. After noticing that all the products involved had
carrageenan in common, she started avoiding the additive and is now
able to do things she couldn’t do previously, such as going on
overnight camping and canoeing trips.

As a woman from Ottawa, Canada, puts it, “Now that I have eliminated
carrageenan from my diet, I can finally lead a normal life.”
How Consumers Can Ultimately Call the Shots

As the Cornucopia Institute pointed out in its letter to the FDA, some
food manufacturers are already replacing carrageenan with other
thickeners and stabilizers, or eliminating thickeners altogether and
asking their customers to shake the product before consumption. “If
carrageenan is prohibited, the food industry will quickly adapt,” it
maintained. In some cases, that appears to be exactly what’s taking
place—with pressure from enlightened consumers serving as the catalyst
for change.

A perfect illustration of this is the 180-degree turnaround done by
WhiteWave Foods, whose brands include Horizon and Silk. The company’s
resistance to any suggestion that carrageenan be removed from its
products is chronicled in the Institute’s initial 2013 report, which
tells how consumers who posted their concerns on Horizon Organic’s
Facebook wall were assured that food-grade carrageenan was safe. When
these consumers replied that scientific studies showed otherwise, they
were given a perfunctory response about how the company was “always
monitoring and reviewing emerging science.” Furthermore, the report
noted, the company’s vice president and chief lobbyist, despite being
among those who provided the latest scientific findings about the
additive’s harmful effects, ended up testifying in favor of keeping it
in organic foods at the 2012 NOSB meeting. [6]

However, after “Food Babe” Vani Hari alerted the followers of her
popular blog to the dangers of carrageenan, [7] WhiteWave totally
reversed gears and announced plans in 2014 to phase it out of their
brands, noting, “Our consumers have expressed a desire for products
without it and we are listening!” The Associated Press quoted company
spokeswoman Sara Loveday as stating that WhiteWave “still thinks
carrageenan is safe, but decided to remove it because customer
feedback has been so strong,” adding, “When you get to a certain point
of how vocal and strongly a consumer feels about it, we felt it was
time to make a change.” [8]

Apparently, then, such feedback is what’s really required to get this
inflammatory additive and other pernicious ingredients out of our
food. That begins with reading the ingredients label on products (even
organic ones, where carrageenan is concerned), avoiding those with
harmful additives, and letting the manufacturers of those foods know
the reason why.
How To Keep Carrageenan Out of Your Best Friend’s Diet

Epoch Times Photo

Since carrageenan has remained in so many “people foods,” despite all
the studies linking it to damage to the gastrointestinal system, it
should come as no surprise that it’s also present in quite a number of
canned pet foods—especially those made for cats.

Finding high-quality canned cat foods that don’t contain this red-flag
ingredient can sometimes be a bit difficult. But if you want to keep
Fluffy happy and purring and perhaps spare yourself and her
unnecessary visits to the vet, there are some carrageenan-free
products now being offered by pet-supply stores (such as Wild Calling
and Nutro FreeStyle brands), as well as others that can be ordered

Unless a product is advertised as being “carrageenan free,” however,
it’s always best to check the ingredients before purchasing it (just
as with “people food”), since this ingredient is often hidden among
more beneficial ones.

Linda and Bill Bonvie are sibling journalists who have spent more than
two decades writing about food safety and environmental issues for
magazines and newspapers. They’ve also co-authored several books
including “Chemical-Free Kids” and “A Consumer’s Guide to Toxic Food

This excerpt has been adapted from “A Consumer’s Guide to Toxic Food
Additives” by Bill and Linda Bonvie. To buy this book, click here.

Epoch Times Photo
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