When it comes to gelatin, and agents which help to thicken a wide variety of food products and other materials, carrageenan is one of the most popular choices for such. The reason for this is simply because it is affordable, abundant, comes from natural resources, and does its job well, providing you a safe form gelatin, which is also suitable for vegans and vegetarians to consume. carrageenan side effects, however, are one of the controversies surrounding the use of this ingredient for the said purposes. Are they really bad for you and your health? This article aimes to find out whether or not all of this is true.
What is Carrageenan and What is it made of?
Carrageenan is a substance which is extracted from a family of red edible seaweeds, which are found in several seas throughout the world, especially in Asia, where certain countries, such as the Philippines, have places where the red edible seaweed for Carrageenan is raised especially for human consumption. The said country is the source of as much as 80% of the world’s supply for carrageenan. These, specifically are linear, sulphated polysaccharides. Seaweed sources for carrageenan include either the Eucheuma denticulatum, E. cottonii or E. spinosum species of seaweed.
Where is it used?
In countries where it is readily manufactured, it is used as a cheaper and healthier alternative to gelatin coming from different sources like animal parts. Gelatin made from carrageenan is a popular additive in Jelo Snacks, fruit salads, and the like. Jelly made of Carrageenan could be distinguised from other types, as this is stiffer and less “wiggly” compared to gelatin made of other ingredients. Aside from being used for this particular purpose, other uses for Carrageenan include being additives to Ice Cream, Non-Dairy Milk like Almond and Soy, Chocolate, and other foods which require a richer and thicker consistency or for emulsification to take place.
Is it really bad?
Carrageenan has been used in the insudtry extensively for quite some time now. This is the reason why certain experts have already tapped into its long-term effects on the body. Carrageenan is a substance which is not digested by the human body, and just gets released as it is. Moreover, it is made of natural ingredients readily found in the environment. There have been reports, however, that it could cause stomach irritations is some people. Others have also reported rashes as a result of ingesting carrageenan-containing foods.
All of these negative effects, however, have been negated, as a lot of products we use and consume on a regular basis have carrageenan in them, and the illnesses reported are reported only happen in isolated cases, as is the case with other food additives as well.
Carrageenan is a safe, healthy, affordable, and very practical additive commonly food. It helps food companies not only save on emulsifiers and thickeners, but also for them to achieve the desired consistency and quality of the products which they sell.