What's Carrageenan

What's carrageenan? Glad you asked. I asked too, which is how I know, and before you're done here, you'll know too.

Carrageenan is a seaweed extract. Carrageenan is extracted from red seawood and used as an additive in products to provide stability especially with regard to the transportation of processed foods. Carrageenans are used as emulsifiers and for binding, thickening, suspending and gelling ingredients and preventing separation. They are also used in some products, such as beer, to provide clarity. You can find carrageenans aka carrageenins listed among the ingredients in food and beverage product labels for dairy items like milk, chocolate milk, ice creams and puddings, yogurts, diet sodas, sauces, jams and jelllies, cooked meats and processed meat products such as sausages.

Carrageenans can also be found in the ingredients listing on non-food items such as hair products, cosmetics, air freshener gel products, shoe polish, and toothpaste.

It is important not to confuse carrageenan with poligeenan which is a chemically degraded derivative of carageenan and is used for industrial (non-food) purposes and has potential negative health effects. Food-grade carrageenan is listed as Generally Recognized As Safe (GRAS) by the US Food & Drug Administration.

Sec. 172.620 Carrageenan.

The food additive carrageenan may be safely used in food in
accordance with the following prescribed conditions:
(a) The food additive is the refined hydrocolloid prepared by
aqueous extraction from the following members of the families
Gigartinaceae and Solieriaceae of the class Rodophyceae (red seaweed):

Chondrus crispus.
Chondrus ocellatus.
Eucheuma cottonii.
Eucheuma spinosum.
Gigartina acicularis.
Gigartina pistillata.
Gigartina radula.
Gigartina stellata.

(b) The food additive conforms to the following conditions:
(1) It is a sulfated polysaccharide the dominant hexose units of
which are galactose and anhydrogalactose.
(2) Range of sulfate content: 20 percent to 40 percent on a dry-
weight basis.
(c) The food additive is used or intended for use in the amount
necessary for an emulsifier, stabilizer, or thickener in foods, except
for those standardized foods that do not provide for such use.
(d) To assure safe use of the additive, the label and labeling of
the additive shall bear the name of the additive, carrageenan.

Sec. 172.623 Carrageenan with polysorbate 80.

Carrageenan otherwise meeting the definition and specifications of
Sec. 172.620 (a) and (b) and salts of carrageenan otherwise meeting the
definition of Sec. 172.626(a) may be safely produced with the use of
polysorbate 80 meeting the specifications and requirements of Sec.
172.840 (a) and (b) in accordance with the following prescribed
conditions:
(a) The polysorbate 80 is used only to facilitate separation of
sheeted carrageenan and salts of carrageenan from drying rolls.
(b) The carrageenan and salts of carrageenan contain not more than 5
percent by weight of polysorbate 80, and the final food containing the
additives contains polysorbate 80 in an amount not to exceed 500 parts
per million.
(c) The carrageenan and salts of carrageenan so produced are used
only in producing foods in gel form and only for the purposes defined in
Sec. Sec. 172.620(c) and 172.626(b), respectively.
(d) The carrageenan and salts of carrageenan so produced are not
used in foods for which standards of identity exist unless the standards
provide for the use of carrageenan, or salts of carrageenan, combined
with polysorbate 80.
(e) The carrageenan and salts of carrageenan produced in accordance
with this section, and foods containing the same, in addition to the
other requirements of the Act, are labeled to show the presence of
polysorbate 80, and the label or labeling of the carrageenan and salts
of carrageenan so produced bear adequate directions for use.

Sec. 172.626 Salts of carrageenan.

The food additive salts of carrageenan may be safely used in food in
accordance with the following prescribed conditions:
(a) The food additive consists of carrageenan, meeting the
provisions of Sec. 172.620, modified by increasing the concentration of
one of the naturally occurring salts (ammonium, calcium, potassium, or
sodium) of carrageenan to the level that it is the dominant salt in the
additive.
(b) The food additive is used or intended for use in the amount
necessary

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for an emulsifier, stabilizer, or thickener in foods, except for those
standardized foods that do not provide for such use.
(c) To assure safe use of the additive, the label and labeling of
the additive shall bear the name of the salt of carrageenan that
dominates the mixture by reason of the modification, e.g., "sodium
carrageenan", "potassium carrageenan", etc.



 
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