The Uses of Carrageenan

If you look at the history of this novel food additive, you will find that use goes back as far as 400 A.D. According to most history, it was first used as a similar thickener derived from Irish moss by Irish cooks. It is one of the top thickeners and gelling agents used in food products to date for its practicality. It is even available over the market shelves for people to use in recipes at home. Concerns about safety have come up, as they would with any food ingredient, but carrageenan (CG), has been extensively and safely used by millions for thousands of years.

Let’s face it, when we find something that works in this society, we put it to good use. Though this novel ingredient can be replaced by its Irish Moss substitute, the two are not one and the same. Both are safe and, oddly enough, both are often used interchangeably in certain preparations depending on availability. It is particularly useful in cold and frozen desserts that we all love. You will find it in smooth ice creams and some of the finest puddings on the planet. CG goes far to produce a wonderful, soft texture to foods.

This delightful product is now produced using various types of seaweed from American oceans, Japan, China, and Korea, as well as the Philippines. It appears that the ocean produces a vast amount of carrageenan through many different ocean-based plants. It all depends on the conditions of the water and overall growing conditions to produce the best types of CG for industries to use for production of the foods we all enjoy on a daily basis. All of it is refined into different grades for use in various food products as well as other applications. As an emulsifier, it is not only safe, but affordable, so it helps to reduce the costs of some of the most commonly purchased commercial foods

Quality is determined by sourcing and refinement. Usually, neither are things you need to be concerned with. For the consumer, it is best to know that this is one of the safest food ingredients you can find. If it is something you are concerned about because you have read some negative information, please take all information into consideration. Sometimes, what is right for one may not be right for another. However, compared to some other food additives, we are looking at one with a very good track record at being safe and quite a good way to enhance food flavor and texture.


Food is one of the great pleasures of life and we like our food to be the best it can be. Why not use the natural alternatives to the synthetic preservatives and additives found in so many of the foods we are learning may make us sick. This is a matter of turning back to nature and looking for the best sources of food preparation ingredients and alternatives to create the very best culinary delights. Live well with your healthy food decisions.