Although there are rumors and controversies about the harmful side effects of carrageenan, a lot of health experts believe that carrageenan is completely safe. As long as you stick to the food-grade type, you should be fine.
Getting a Better Understanding
Carrageenan is a natural thickener that is extracted from the special red algae native only in the coast of Ireland. The name is derived from different sources. It is taken from the Carraigin Island in Ireland as well as the Carrageen (or Irish) Moss. Records have shown that the substance has been used as home remedies and also traditional gelatin since 400 AD. Besides curing upset stomach and problematic digestive system, the carrageenan was believed to cure colds and coughs.
The natural carrageenan can be extracted through traditional system although it is common to have commercial production in making it. The seaweed should be washed with fresh water before it is soaked in a special alkaline solution. After the soak, it is washed again with fresh water and then chopped. Color removal process follows and it should be washed again. Afterward, it can be dried before milled. And that’s how you get your powdery carrageenan form.
The Ongoing Controversies
There is a controversy concerning carrageenan where a lot of people believe that it can result in cancerous cells development. Well, you see, carrageenan can be present in two major forms. The one used in the food industry is the food-grade type and it is completely safe. It has undergone many scientific tests and studies – most of the results are okay. The other one is called as the poligeenan and it is a degraded type of carrageenan. It doesn’t have any thickening trait and it isn’t used in the food industry.
So, what is carrageenan? It is a completely safe and healthy substance that is often found in the modern food products, giving the foods the mouthwatering appearance and tasty outcome.