Vegetarian + Vegan Issues

Published on July 17th, 2012 | by Becky Striepe


Common Ingredient in Low-Fat and Non-Dairy Milk Could be Harmful

carrageenan in milk

Carrageenan – a seaweed ingredient common in low-fat and non-dairy milks – might not be as healthy as it sounds.

Most folks see a seaweed on the ingredients list and assume that it’s healthy. After all, some seaweeds are super nutritious and even make a delicious, healthy snack, right?

A release from the Cornucopia Institute explains that carrageenen is linked to intestinal inflammation and that the World Health Organization’s International Agency for Research on Cancer classified the additive as a “possible human carcinogen.” Cornucopia Institute also reports that:

Individuals suffering from chronic gastrointestinal symptoms have reported that their symptoms disappeared when they cut carrageenan out of their diets.

Companies use carrageenan as a thickener and stabilizer. It gives non-dairy and low fat dairy products a pleasant, creamy texture and keeps them from separating.

Not all low-fat and non-dairy milk products contain carrageenan, and Cornucopia Institute is maintaining a list of organic products that do and do not contain this additive. Is your favorite milk on the list? If not, a quick read through the ingredients on the packaging will tell you whether it contains carrageenan.

Image Credit: Carrageenan in Milk photo via Shutterstock

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About the Author

My name is Becky Striepe (rhymes with “sleepy”), and I am a crafts and food writer from Atlanta, Georgia with a passion for making our planet a healthier, happier, and more compassionate place to live. My mission is to make vegan food and crafts accessible to everyone!. If you like my work, you can also find me on Twitter, Facebook, and .

3 Responses to Common Ingredient in Low-Fat and Non-Dairy Milk Could be Harmful

  1. Pingback: Eat Drink Better | “The Organic Watergate” Dilemma | Page: 1 | Eat Drink Better

  2. Prof Ronnie Russell says:

    Carageenan is a repeating subunit polysaccharide which can stimulate the immune system when injected into tissues. That can irritate and cause some inflammation.
    When eaten, a totally different process is at work and it is beneficial for those with intestinal problems. Uptake into the body depends on processing by bacteria in the gut and transport through a rigorous filtration system which does not set off inflammation.
    Carageenan extract is found in many oral medicines and has been for many, many years. It is also a traditional dessert in Ireland and a food for patients post gasterointestinal surgery.

  3. Pingback: Eat Drink Better | October Unprocessed, Day Eleven – Removing the “Processed” from Processed Meats | Page: 1 | Eat Drink Better

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