Watch Out For This Carcinogen In Your Organic Food

I really wish I wasn’t writing this post right now. The information I am about to share with you will likely make you pretty angry and it should.  Do you consume any of these brands in the picture below (Silk, Starbucks, So Delicious, Horizon, Zico, Blue Diamond, Pacific, Carnation and Tempt)? My guess is that you probably do.

A few days ago, the Cornucopia Institute released a Video by it’s co-founder and Senior Farm Analyst, Mark Kastel and a full PDF Report that shares some very startling practices between the USDA and the NOSA “National Organic Standards Board”- the agency that regulates organic food. This report explains the details behind several allegations of corporate corruption that has allowed several agribusinesses to use chemicals in organic products without sufficient regulatory oversight.

A Carcinogen Hiding In Organic Dairy & Dairy Substitutes

One of the findings has to do with a carcinogenic ingredient all these products have in common, a substance derived from red algae called carrageenan. Carrageenan can be found in most milk substitute products, infant formula, deli meats, cottage cheese and some flavored coconut waters regardless if the product is certified organic by the USDA. I know so many people who get soy lattes from Starbucks to avoid having to consume conventional milk products, so I thought it would be pertinent to include them here on the list below, since they and many other coffee shops use soy milk that contains carrageenan.

Organic Watch Dog Common Brands

I’ve had my doubts about carrageenan for a long time – it started last year when my cousin from Ohio sent me a Facebook message asking about whether or not it was ok to feed store bought almond milk that contained this additive to her toddler aged son. Since I didn’t have all the facts, I erred on the side of caution and suggested she make her own almond milk from scratch only.

Now, there are sound reasons and a plethora of studies that the Cornucopia Institute has summarized that has made all my hunches come true. Their report detailed out several specific studies that showed that food safe and approved “undergraded” carrageenan is containaminated with the non-approved degraded carrageenan. Furthermore, when you ingest the undergraded version, it actually starts to degrade in the gastrointestinal tract and in the liver and turn into a carcinogen, resulting in a serious inflammatory agent that also can cause intestinal abnormalities. Because of this reason and other studies conducted the World Health Organization’s International Agency for Research on Cancer and the National Research Council of the United States both have determined that carrageenan is a carcinogen – a substance that causes cancer.

How In The World Can A Carcinogen Be Allowed Into Organic Food?

This is where the Cornucopia Institute does a extraordinary job showing you the timeline of events, lack of regulation, and down right shadiness that all led up to carrageenan’s approval. They show you the series of situations where companies that profit from these ingredients were some of the only reviewers involved in the decision. It’s easy to understand how this can happen, now that organic food companies are being bought by major conventional food companies left and right. Below is a chart taken from the Cornucopia website that shows the relationship big food now has on several smaller organic companies. Please note – This was taken in 2009 and is even worse now, for instance Kraft has since bought Cadbury and so on.

Organic Companies

Every time I mention a particular ingredient and it’s harm, I come across opponents to my line of arguments, saying that I am being alarmist or using scare tactics. They love to point out that it’s “food grade” or is safe in “low doses.” Looking at the findings and report on carrageenan, you can see these arguments can be seriously flawed. It reminds me of the times where I discussed the ingredient proplyene glycol in Panera Bread’s salad dressings and TBHQ in Chick-fil-A’s sandwiches. Just like the NOSB has accomplished with the USDA, the FDA also has continuously approved countless chemicals to be added to our food in a low doses. Does anyone really know what the cumulative effect of these additives is over time? Our soil is already depleted of several vitamins and minerals and the nutrition content of our food is declining every single year. How can we afford to put these chemicals in our body? Should we let the FDA tell us what percentage is safe? Or should we use our common sense and decide as a collective group not to consume these additives and chemicals?

I don’t know about you but I feel personally duped by carrageenan. I assumed that once a product was certified organic like Pacific Almond Milk, that it was perfectly safe to drink. I’ve even recommended this product and some others that contained carrageenan here on this site. I’ve since cleaned up my ingredient lists on my recipes and made sure my pantry staples list does not contain any products with this additive in it. We are all learning here together and I hope you forgive me for ever assuming this substance was safe to consume, because it is clearly not.

Almond Milk

What You Can Do Instead

Milk substitutes are wildly popular and something many people consume almost everyday, so it’s important that if you were relying on one of these products above to start making your own milk or find another substitute. It’s so easy to make your own. Watch this video to see how I make it. I like to strain my milk through a very fine grain strainer. Check it out, just to see how easy it is! You won’t ever be tempted to buy processed almond milk in a carton again.

Even though Cornucopia estimates they are close to 300 chemical additives approved to be used in organics, there are still thousands approved for conventional products. The facts presented here should not discourage you to eat less organic food, but to encourage you to fight for its regulations and ultimate safeguard. I urge you to watch the Video by Mark Kastel and read the Full Cornucopia Report when you have time and to spread this information to as many people as possible – Please feel free to share this post on Facebook, Twitter and your own blogs.

In The Best of Health Always,

Food Babe

Update: Check out Cornucopia’s new shopping guide to find out which products do and do not contain carrageenan (Tree of Life, 365 Brand Whole Foods and Trader Joe’s (cold section) are a few).

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496 Responses to “Watch Out For This Carcinogen In Your Organic Food”

  1. sharon

    RATS! I use Weight Watchers Chocolate and French Vanilla smoothies and they both contain Carrageenan!

  2. Steve

    Just discovered that carrageenan is added to natural toothpastes and canned dog foods. Toothpastes I’ve noticed are Botanique Himalaya, Auromere, and Jason Sea-fresh – flouride free. I have not done a lot of research on dog foods yet, but have noticed it is added to BJs Wholesale brand Earth’s Pride canned food.

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  6. pie

    You should also include Panera’s Bread for using carrageenan in their milk, and their potato chips are also on a known cancer from the fda list.

    I was at Panera’s, and behind the casher was a warning for Panera’s food may cause cancer. I asked for the handout, and she said it was just the coffee, and potato chips. So I let it go, and did not get the handout sheet. – Pretty tricky on Panera’s manager part doing a “jack, and beanstock” move where I did not get the handout’s they had in their restaurant.

    I also noticed mcdonalds had a warring about cancer in foods as I was receiving my iced coffee. – Mcdonalds puts milk in their iced coffee’s. Next time, I will be more aware.

  7. pie

    As a follow up, I went to Panera’s bread, and re-asked for the hand out. The manager told me she could not supply the hand out however, I could find whatever I wanted on the internet. So I asked her what foods had this cancer causing ingredients in their foods. The manager said: “It’s in the chips, coffee, and milk they use.”

    I was looking back at a couple getting coffee, and using the milk. I almost wanted to warn them to stop. But no, I was going to be cool, and not say anything while I was waiting for my hand out I never got.

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  9. Monica

    I’ve drinking Califia almond milk thinking it was healthy only to see that it contains carrageenan. Very disappointing!!! Will make my own almond milk from now on. Thank you.

    • Monica (to Monica)

      I just went to Califia facebook page and it says they have pledged to remove carrageenan by 2015. Good to know!

    • Doro (to Monica)

      Almond milks are a petty replacement for milk. They only contain 1g of protein per cup versus 8g in milk, and also higher amounts of sodium and carbohydrates. You may as well be sucking on lollipops.

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    Thank you for sharing your info. I really appreciate your efforts and I am waiting for
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  11. Rominecko

    Old news…

  12. Mist

    The same ingredient as the stuff used in a petry dish to grow out bacteria.

  13. Sky (to Casey Furlong)

    So angry… Why so angry?

  14. Sky (to Stuart little)

    So are mice.


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