Tag Archives: carrageenan

Carrageenan … it’s not seaweed and it is controversial, especially for babies

FoodFacts.com has been receiving multiple emails requesting more information regarding the controversial ingredient, Carrageenan. We thought it would be a worthy blog post to provide some further information as to why this ingredient is something so many people in our community make a conscientious effort to avoid.

So what exactly is Carrageenan and why is it controversial? A few weeks ago, we featured Carrageenan on our Facebook page and reviewed products carrying the ingredient. One of our posters commented that Carrageenan “is just seaweed.” Actually it’s not just seaweed and we’d like to start with that clarification.

Carrageenans are a family of linear sulfated polysaccharides that are extracted from seaweed via a chemical solvent. Carrageenan has thickening and gelatin like qualities and is also a food stabilizer. In addition to its use as a food additive, it’s a key ingredient in the de-icing solutions used on airplanes, as well as cosmetics, pesticides, and room fresheners. Sounds appetizing, doesn’t it?

Carrageenan is linked to gastrointestinal disorders as well as certain cancers. It can also be a source of hidden MSG. It’s important for all of us to remember that there are certain food ingredients that contain free glutamic acids that aren’t Monosodium Glutamate, but act just like MSG when consumed.

Most concerning, however, has been the use of Carrageenan in infant formulas and baby and toddler food products. A 2007 joint FAO (Food and Agriculture Organization)/WHO (World Health Organization) committee stated that “based on information available, it is inadvisable to use carrageenan or processed eucheuma seaweed in infant formulas.” While Carrageenan is “generally recognized as safe” in the US due to the very small amounts generally included in products, when it is included in formula, the infant tends to consume much more and is therefore at risk for negative health consequences, such as GI ulceration and intestinal inflammation. Carrageenan is banned for use in formula in the EU. Sadly, in the U.S., Carrageenan is a fairly common ingredient in infant formulas and toddler nutrition beverages.

If you haven’t already done so, you may want to update your FoodFacts.com membership profile to include Carrageenan on your avoid list for ingredients. If you don’t yet have a FoodFacts.com membership, you may want to sign up, so that you can begin tracking the ingredients you’d like to avoid in your diet. Membership is completely free and you’ll be able to see which products contain the controversial ingredients that most concern you.

FoodFacts.com has also made it much easier for parents of babies and toddlers to keep track of those products on our grocery shelves contain ingredients that we’d like to keep out of the diets of the youngest among us. Our new Baby & Toddler Nutrition Guide lists every baby and toddler product we have in our database with complete information on nutritional content, allergens and controversial ingredients, including Carrageenan. Click here to view our new Baby & Toddler Nutrition Guide … it really simplifies food choices for new parents!

 

ConAgra’s unsuccessful attempt to promote Marie Callender’s

marie callender's
Brought to you by Foodfacts.com:

As many consumers know, ConAgra has been targeted for marketing “natural” oils, which are far from natural; and producing what most people commonly refer to as “frankenfood.” In an effort to boost their publicity and promote their line of products, ConAgra hired a PR firm to setup a lavish event for well-known culinary bloggers to attend a dinner prepared by celebrity chef George Duran. However, the bloggers were not served food created by George Duran, instead they were served ConAgra’s popular frozen brand, Marie Callender’s. Apparently, they expected the bloggers to receive the joke in good terms and return home to blog about how great their meals were. Wrong reaction. The bloggers were furious with ConAgra’s actions and took to the internet to proclaim so. We understand why these bloggers would be upset, because looking closely at these frozen dinners, anyone would cringe at the awful combination of ingredients.
Marie Callender's at Foodfacts.com!

One entree choice from the Marie Callender’s product line is turkey breast with stuffing. This 380 calorie meal is equipped with about 80 ingredients, some of which are very controversial. TBHQ, BHA, BHT, various artificial flavors, “natural” flavors, MSG, carrageenan, partially hydrogenated oils, caramel coloring, high fructose corn syrup, gelatin, disodium guanylate, and many more of our worst controversial ingredients all accompany the few turkey breast medallions and small portion of what appears to say “gravy.” There is also 1,370 mg of sodium, 4 g of saturated fat, and 60 mg of cholesterol. Choose your foods wisely! This meal is unlikely to leave someone feeling good after they dig into it.

Marie Callender's at Foodfacts.com!
Marie Callender’s lasagna, which was served at the deceiving dinner party, has about 30% of the daily value for saturated fat, 31% the daily value for sodium, and 45 mg of cholesterol. Lest we forget it also contains sodium benzoate, which has been shown to be carcinogenic in the presence of vitamin C. This particular product contains 8% of vitamin C from tomatoes, and maybe a few other ingredients, which isn’t much, but who would take such a chance from a boxed dinner? Also, there are two different sources for flavoring, and partially hydrogenated oils. Overall, not a great product. I would be displeased too if this was served to me!

razzleberry pie at Foodfacts.com!
Being served a warm homemade pie isn’t quite like a microwaved razzleberry pie from a Marie Callender’s box. Though they don’t contain a very large list of ingredients in comparison to other brands, Mari Callender’s pie still contains trans fat, a hefty load of added sugars, various modified starches, and quite a bit of sodium. Also, just one slice is 360 calories. We’re pretty sure it’s not a thick slice, but more of a tiny sliver. Watch your portions if you’re daring enough to try it!