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Organic Consumers Association

FDA Puts Industry Profit Over Public Health – Defends Safety of Controversial Food Additive

For related articles and more information, please visit OCA's Food Safety Resource Center page and our All About Organics page.

 The Cornucopia Institute formally requested that the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) remove the common additive carrageenan from the US food supply.

Last year the FDA rejected a 2008 citizen petition, which presented scientific studies linking carrageenan to gastrointestinal inflammation and disease, including cancer.  The petition was filed by Dr. Joanne Tobacman, a physician-researcher at the University of Illinois - Chicago College of Medicine, who has been studying food-grade carrageenan for more than a decade.

"The FDA's justification for denial was based on a sloppy and incomplete evaluation of available published research, and it was riddled with overt bias which appears to protect an industry's profits at the expense of public health," says Charlotte Vallaeys, Director of Farm and Food Policy at Cornucopia, a Wisconsin-based non-profit food policy research group.  "We have asked them to reevaluate."

Carrageenan is a highly processed additive extracted from red seaweed.  The controversial material contributes no nutritional value or flavor, but is added to affect the texture of a wide range of foods and beverages.

Scientists have raised concern about its safety for decades, based on research linking food-grade carrageenan in the diet of laboratory animals to gastrointestinal disease, including colon tumors.

"Carrageenan has a unique chemical structure, and research has shown that this chemical structure may trigger an innate immune response in the body," says Dr. Pradeep Dudeja, Professor of Physiology in Medicine at the University of Illinois - Chicago, who has co-authored nine studies on carrageenan. 


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