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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 in 2011 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 “undegraded” carrageenan is containaminated with the non-approved degraded carrageenan. Furthermore, when you ingest the undegraded 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. 

Check out my books The Food Babe Way and Food Babe Kitchen for nut milk recipes and strategies you can use to break free from the toxins in your food! My recipe for cashew milk takes 1 min and super easy to make!

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

P.S. 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).

8/19/2014 Update: In response to this blog post and your activism, Whitewave committed to remove carrageenan in 2015, but has not been completed yet.


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592 responses to “Watch Out For This Carcinogen In Your Organic Food

  1. I am so disturbed to know that Almond Breeze uses carrageenan. My family swtiched to this instead of regular milk thinking that it was the healthy alternative. Why is it so hard not to put poisonous substances into what we ingest?!

    1. I am speechless, I pay the extra money for Horizon products trusting I’m eating healthy! And so delicious I buy as well. Does anyone know if Simple Truth, Fred Meyer organic brand is toxic too?

  2. Not sure if it was already mentioned but Whole Foods 365 Almond milk contains carragean. Switched to Silk.

    1. The organic Whole Foods 365 Almond Milk does not have carrageenan in it. I buy that brand specifically because it doesn’t. They may have a non organic one that may contain carrageenan. I don’t know about that.

  3. i just found carrageenan in a 365 brand i bought from whole foods. :/ there chicken taquitos want me to send a pic of the ingredients list?

  4. Why is Starbucks listed? Where is this used? In their coffee or milk substitutes?

    1. I believe she was saying that when you get a Starbucks soy latte (for people wanting to avoid milk products), their soy milk has carageenan.

  5. Hi i read the long list of pantry staples are you saying that everything on the list has carrageenan in it please respond asap so i can know, i use nuts to blend in my food processor to make different raw desserts, i also eat nuts as a snack, i try to soak my nuts and put a tsp of himalayan salt in the bowl and leave them for about 6 to 7 hours are you saying that there is carrageenan in nuts? please get back to me asap thanks from [email protected]

    1. What she said is that she has cleaned up her pantry staples list to make sure that nothing on it has carageenan. So that is her list of foods that are GOOD.

    2. She clearly said that she has cleaned up her list so that nothing on it contains carageenan. Sorry if this posts twice, I don’t see my first reply.

  6. I’ve known about carageenan for some time so I will nog buy any product that contains it. I keep reading labels because ingrdients keep changing in the same product. Whole Foods “Unsweetened” Almond Milk and now Silk “Unsweetened” Almond Milk do not contain carageenan. All the other Whole Foods Almond milks do. SoDelicious “Unsweetened” Coconut Yogurt also has dropped carageenan from their ingredients. I usually make my own Almond milk and Coconut milk now. It tasts so much better in our daily smoothees. I make 3 quarts at a time which lasts 6 days. It takes less than 1 hour including cleanup.

  7. This is so scary everything is so corrupt. How do the people working for these companies the scientists researchers sleep at night knowing these chemicals hurt our genetic makeup and cause egregious outcomes. Its common sense in my opinion. What we put in our bodies has an effect. Our bodies can’t withstand foreign chemicals and ingredients its why more and more types of diseases are forming. I truly wonder why we were put on this earth. Just so pharmaceutical companies can get rich and Monsanto and alike can get richer. I guess its the cycle of life. People stay away from unhealthy foods do research. Eventually we all get old and end up having a disease.

    1. Monsanto will not win, and the fact that they are being exposed along with other forms of corruption shows the truth of many prophesies. The bible says in Revelation 11:18 God will “bring to ruin those ruining the earth”, which shows the time we are living in was spoken of. Man can not save it at this point, those that are making the money from ruining it will make sure of that. So when God saves the earth for the good people and evil people are done away with, (Proverbs 2:21,22), we want to be on the side of the good, taking good care of the earth!

    2. I am with you on that. I oftenalso wonder, what are they eating? They know that the stuff is poison so do they consume it as well or do they have a secret stash of safe stuff? LOL monsters.

  8. What other names does carrageenan fall under? I have seen other ingredients that don’t seem like they should be in there, but not sure what they are. Could Sodium Citrate or Disodium Phosphate be harmful as well or be other names for Carrageenan?


  10. Hi Foodbabe, now that Almond Breeze doesn’t have Carrageenan in it, is it safe? Thank you for your investigation.

    1. I drink blue diamond almond breeze unsweetened vanilla. I love the flavor. I would be sad not to have it as a staple in my kitchen. The only milk alternative and flavor I drink. But I am all about changing the foods I put in my body. Please tell me more.

  11. Foodbabe, you are the bomb…..I am sooooo happy to have found you threw my holistic teacher years ago and I turn you on to every young and old person I know. your hard work enthusiasm, knowledge and upbeat young personality warms my heart. yes you will save lives, and save the future if people get educated be foodbabe. if only you were available to more people and maybe had some tv time. I can not thank you enough for ALL the information… educated me in each and every e-mail you send. I am proud to be part of your army and will keep passing you on to anyone that wants to stay healthy and ahead of the corruption… the way LOVE your name FOODBABE….very cute!!!!!!

  12. Hi Vani,

    I just wanted you to know how much I appreciate your persistencee, hard work, and time you take at educated us about the food we are tricked into eating. I was recently diagnosed with thyroid cancer at the age of 37 and was told by a doctor “it’s environmental”. My mom and I can’t help but to think it’s the food we are eating as people my age are getting diagnosed with cancers more and more. Unlike generations before us, processed foods and these additives have been on the shelves since before we were born, so we have been digesting them our whole lives. Since I’ve been diagnosed I’ve really cleaned up my diet and feel so much better, along with the diet of my children and husband. While time consuming, at least I know what we are putting into our bodies. Your research and information has really helped guide me in the changes we are making in our diet and the products we use. So, thank you!


  13. FairValley chocolate milk has Carrageenan and it sent me to the E.R. I knew I had a severe allergic reaction to it, but it never occurred to me to expect it to be in milk.

    I lodged a complaint with the company. They were very respectful and responsive. They asked what did I want them to do? I told them, lable the CANCER CAUSING ingredient.

  14. I drink blue diamond almond breeze unsweetened vanilla. I love the flavor. I would be sad not to have it as a staple in my kitchen. The only milk alternative and flavor I drink. But I am all about changing the foods I put in my body. Please tell me more.

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