A study commissioned by the International Food Additives Council
(IFAC) has claimed that when used as a gelling or thickening agent in
foods, carrageenan (CGN) causes no adverse effects in human cells.
James McKim, Jr., et al., “Effects of carrageenan on cell permeability,
cytotoxicity, and cytokine gene expression in human intestinal and
hepatic cell lines,” Food and Chemical Toxicology, July 2016. After
testing three forms of carrageenan in vitro to evaluate “intestinal permeability,
cytotoxicity, and CGN-mediated induction of proinflammatory
cytokines,” researchers evidently concluded that intestinal cells did not
absorb CGN, which, in turn, was not cytotoxic and did not induce oxidative
stress or inflammation.

“This study was unable to reproduce any of the previously reported in
vitro findings. As a result, it is unlikely that CGN causes inflammation or
that it disrupts insulin signaling pathways reported by Bhattacharyya et
al. (2012),” note the study’s authors. “This work also demonstrates that
when in vitro systems are used to identify potential hazards for humans,
the results should be reproducible outside of the discovery laboratory
prior to using the data for risk assessment, [regulatory] decisions, or
policy statements.”

“Dr. McKim’s research confirms what we have known for decades—carrageenan
has no impact on the human body when consumed in food,” said
IFAC Executive Director Robert Rankin in an August 10, 2016, press
release. “Carrageenan producers have taken very seriously claims that
the ingredient is unsafe, thoroughly investigated the research supporting
those claims and found them to be baseless.”


Issue 614

About The Author

For decades, manufacturers, distributors and retailers at every link in the food chain have come to Shook, Hardy & Bacon to partner with a legal team that understands the issues they face in today's evolving food production industry. Shook attorneys work with some of the world's largest food, beverage and agribusiness companies to establish preventative measures, conduct internal audits, develop public relations strategies, and advance tort reform initiatives.

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