DuPont Nutrition & Health and a broad coalition of scientists, dietitians, food producers, environmentalists, seaweed farmers and consumers applaud the decision by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) to support carrageenan for continued use in US organic foods.
In a notable win for carrageenan, the agency’s decision rejects a 2016 recommendation by the National Organic Standards Board (NOSB) to remove carrageenan from the national list of ingredients allowed in organic foods.
In making its decision to reject the NOSB’s recommendation, the USDA considered the scientific evidence and stakeholder comments, ultimately reaffirming carrageenan’s safety and value as a food ingredient. In the Federal Register notice, the USDA stated that “carrageenan continues to be necessary for handling agricultural products because of the unavailability of wholly natural substitutes. Carrageenan has specific uses in an array of agricultural products, and public comments reported that potential substitutes do not adequately replicate the functions of carrageenan across the broad scope of use.” The USDA concluded renewal of carrageenan to the National List “will avoid potential disruptions to the organic industry and the public.”
Carrageenan is widely accepted and used as an ingredient in many foods, thanks to its combination of attributes and breadth of functionality. An independent survey of food formulation professionals confirmed that carrageenan was the most accepted ingredient for certain foods, surpassing all other surveyed ingredients, including those also approved for use in organic products.
Carrageenan is the only approved non-synthetic stabilizer currently allowed for use in US liquid organic infant formula. A report by the United Nations’ Joint Food & Agriculture Organization / World Health Organization (FAO/WHO) Expert Committee on Food concluded that carrageenan is safe for use to stabilize and keep nutrients properly dispersed in infant formula.
“We commend the USDA for taking seriously its responsibility to review the NOSB recommendation and make a decision based on the facts and science,” said Michiel van Genugten, global product line manager, Seaweed Extracts & Colors. “This will allow organic food producers to continue to use a safe, versatile ingredient they rely on, and for consumers to enjoy the foods they know and love.”
During the comment period preceding the NOSB recommendation, scientists, professional food formulators, representatives of industry and from NGOs, seaweed farmers, and consumers testified to carrageenan’s ongoing value as an ingredient in organic foods and as an industry that employs 75,000 family seaweed farmers in developing economies around the world:
• Carrageenan is sustainably harvested and readily available; some carrageenan alternatives have patent restrictions that limit suppliers.
• Reformulation that eliminates carrageenan may alter color, odor, and taste in some products and could add significant costs.
• Seaweed farming is one of the most environmentally friendly types of aquaculture: It uses no arable land, freshwater, chemical treatments or fertilizers.
• Carrageenan farming has helped lift families out of poverty and improved the economic well-being and social fabric of thousands of communities in countries across Southeast Asia and Africa.
There are decades of research affirming carrageenan’s safety as an additive. Even the NOSB acknowledged that there is no credible evidence showing carrageenan is unsafe, stating, “We find that the body of scientific evidence does not support claims of widespread negative human health impacts from consumption of carrageenan in processed foods.”
For more information on carrageenan and the importance of food science, visit Food Science Matters.
To read a review of the science around carrageenan safety, download “A Closer Look at Carrageenan.”
About DuPont Nutrition & Health
DuPont Nutrition & Health, a business unit of DowDuPont Specialty Products Division, combines in-depth knowledge of food and nutrition with current research and expert science to deliver unmatched value to the food, beverage, pharmaceutical and dietary supplement industries. We are innovative solvers, drawing on deep consumer insights and a broad product portfolio to help our customers turn challenges into high-value business opportunities. More information is available at www.food.dupont.com.
About DowDuPont Specialty Products Division
DowDuPont Specialty Products, a division of DowDuPont (NYSE: DWDP), is a global innovation leader with technology-based materials, ingredients and solutions that help transform industries and everyday life. Our employees apply diverse science and expertise to help customers advance their best ideas and deliver essential innovations in key markets including electronics, transportation, building and construction, health and wellness, food and worker safety. DowDuPont intends to separate the Specialty Products division into an independent, publicly traded company. More information can be found at www.dow-dupont.com.