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Thoughts about carrageenan?

Food additives abound but one that I find in the most unlikely food ingredients is carrageenan. For example, I would love to try your buttermilk biscuits, but there again -- in the buttermilk -- is added carrageenan. I have yet to find one brand of buttermilk (and most other dairy products other than 'plain' milk) without that additive.

I realize this is a controversial topic. I'm interested in knowing how you approach this additive.


  • We aren’t a health food company so, if I’m honest, we don’t spend a whole lot of time thinking about food additives. That being said, we are definitely proponents of buying fresh, local ingredients whenever possible and using high quality products that you can afford. I’m not sure where you’re located, but I would recommend seeking out a local farm to see if they make their own fresh dairy products. If not, for buttermilk, I know Kate’s Fresh Real Buttermilk from Maine and Organic Valley Low-fat Buttermilk do not contain carrageenan. The organic food industry in general is making a push to eliminate carrageenan from products labeled "organic" so more and more companies are removing it and/or replacing it with gellan gum. I would certainly look to organic producers for carrageenan-free products.

    A little background on carrageenan:

    Carrageenan is an extract from red seaweed called Irish Moss. This edible seaweed is native to the British Isles where it’s been used in traditional cooking for hundreds of years. It’s natural gelling ability makes it a common thickening ingredient in the commercial food industry. Here is an excellent article from NPR that explains some of the controversy on its purported toxicity:

  • Thanks for your thoughts and insights; I'm in a small northern Utah area that's not progressive in anything, let alone foods, so I guess I'm stuck with lemon juice in milk instead of buttermilk for Milk Street's Buttermilk Biscuits!

    [Unfortunately last spring (2018) the USDA chose to keep carrageenan on the approved list for certified organics despite the 2016 recommendation by the National Organic Standards Board to remove it (Food Safety News, 'Latest Organic Controversy Involves Carrageenan As An Additive', April 6, 2018

    NPR's April 4, 2018 article, 'USDA Defies Advisors, Allows Carrageenan To Keep Organic Label', noted that "The U.S. Department of Agriculture has decided that organic food companies can keep using an emulsifier called carrageenan in foods like ice cream and high-protein drinks, despite a vote by an influential organic advisory committee to ban the ingredient." No mention of it being injected into 'fresh' raw chicken!

    Thanks to last year's USDA decision I guess consumers (and cancer survivors) like me are on their own if they want to avoid carrageenan's questionable safety. I'll just continue relying on product labels and boycotting those that contain carrageenan (including certified organic) since I'm perfectly capable of shaking a bottle to redistribute milk solids and I'd rather go without than support any poultry company that requires the use of an additive.]

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