VIROQUA, Wis., Sept. 29, 2021 /PRNewswire/ -- A problematic ingredient propped up by a well-oiled public relations machine has met its match: fed-up eaters.
Mobilized for the past decade by The Cornucopia Institute, buyers of organic food have bombarded customer service departments with requests to remove carrageenan, a controversial ingredient that is linked to inflammation, from their organic products. Their argument: A highly processed, synthetic additive causing harm to human health has no business in organic.
Cornucopia has long compiled scientific studies that raise concerns about food-grade carrageenan. Since Cornucopia's initial report was published in 2013, several companies, including Stonyfield Organic, Organic Valley, and Eden Foods, have removed carrageenan from their products.
Using Cornucopia's updated Buyer's Guide to Avoiding Carrageenan in Organic Food, shoppers can support brands that meet their expectations or ditch brands that don't. The guide includes contact information for brands that use carrageenan and encourages consumers to pressure them to reformulate.
"When enough eaters speak up, brands listen," says Marie Burcham, Cornucopia's Policy Director. "While carrageenan is increasingly common in processed food, its presence in organic food is declining. Advocacy really does work."
Brands prize carrageenan as a cheap thickener and for its "mouthfeel." But carrageenan poses a serious health risk. Thousands of cell-based and animal experiments, along with over 2,500 complaints from people who use Cornucopia's research, indicate that carrageenan causes inflammation.
And it's nearly impossible to avoid: Take your favorite ice cream brand. Because carrageenan may be used as a processing aide, it isn't always listed in the ingredients.
While many people are not significantly impacted by carrageenan, it causes serious distress for those prone to gastrointestinal issues.
Gayle Sudit identified carrageenan as the culprit of her own GI issues after reading Cornucopia's research.
"Within 24 hours of eliminating carrageenan from my diet, I found relief from my ulcerative colitis symptoms. When I accidentally ingested it since then, my symptoms returned."
Sudit is committed to getting the word out about this "nasty emulsifier." She says, "Every time someone forgoes products that contain carrageenan or favors brands without it, that buyer is sending the message that consumers want more from the industry. Together we can have a collective impact on the way companies formulate their products."