Late last week, the National Organic Standards Board (NOSB) voted overwhelmingly to ban carrageenan from certified organic foods. The new rule would take effect in November 2018.
Carrageenan is a thickener and stabilizer derived from seaweed that food companies use in a wide range of products. Low fat dairy, nondairy milks, and yogurts are some of the common grocery items that contain carrageenan.
Related: Homemade Coconut Milk Yogurt
This food additive has been controversial for many years. Carrageenan has come under fire for a possible link to intestinal inflammation. Dr. Michael Greger put together a great video about carrageenan and its potential health consequences:
If you do have intestinal issues or carrageenan is just a concern for you, The Cornucopia Institute has a shopping list of carrageenan-free foods.
Carrageenan Ban goes to USDA
The NOSB voted 10 to 3 to sunset carrageenan, but the USDA will have the final word on carrageenan. Food industry groups are focusing on getting the USDA to reverse the NOSB decision.
Susan Finn from industry group United 4 Food Science told Food Safety News, “The Board’s recommendation would make it difficult for organic food products to compete with non-organic products on sensory attributes such as taste and texture. This outcome may lead to consumers deselecting organic foods altogether, which runs counter to the National Organic Program’s mission.”
Organic advocacy groups are pleased about the NOSB decision, and they’re hopeful that the USDA will uphold it. Mark Kastel from The Cornucopia Institute said, “We expect the USDA will respect the input of the organic community, and decision of the board, by publishing a rule in the Federal Register removing carrageenan and allowing a reasonable amount of time to clear existing inventories and reformulate products containing the ingredient.”
Whether the rule goes through or not, many food companies are already removing or replacing carrageenan in foods, because of consumer pressure. The USDA will publish its final rule on the possible carrageenan ban in November 2018.
Image Credit: Creative Commons photo by Open Grid Scheduler.