Carrageenan History and Misunderstanding


Although carrageenan has been used for centuries as a natural home remedy and gelatin, its usage in the modern food industry is pretty recent. It has undergone many tests and examinations to check the safety and validity. The carrageenan alone has undergone a pretty long history to be present at today’s industry. But what is carrageenan, anyway?

The History

Carrageenan was first used in the modern industry in 1940. It was for chocolate junket (a type of milk desert that looks like a pudding) and chocolate milk. Later on, in the middle of the 1960s, the carrageenan was started to be used in the health industry where doctors recommended patients with peptic ulcers to consume it so they could reduce the pain. However, in order to treat the peptic ulcer, the carrageenan had to be converted into a gel form which was pretty unpleasant and dangerous. And so the degraded carrageenan, the poligeenan, was first created. This degraded carrageenan doesn’t have any thickening property. Once the poligeenan was found out to be dangerous, the treatment was stopped and discontinued.

Unfortunately, since the food-grade and degraded carrageenan are both made from the carrageenan, most people think that both of them are dangerous. Only a few people understand that the food-grade carrageenan has undergone a different production from the poligeenan so they are completely different.

The False Claims

A lot of people think that the chemical process in our body will turn the safe carrageenan into the dangerous poligeenan. However, the conversion isn’t that easy. You see, when the poligeenan is created, it requires a long acid bath (mostly around 6 hours) and a certain level of pH solution (mostly around 1.5). When you consume the carrageenan, it would be impossible for the foods to remain in your digestive system for a straight 6 hours. Not to mention that the pH level in your stomach is around 2.5.