The Ingredient in Organic Snacks That Could Be Terrible for Your Kid

OMG 44

yogurt squeezerOh great, another food ingredient for us to worry about. Did you know that carrageenan is like poison ivy for your intestines -- supposedly? FAN-TA-STIC! Carrageenan is a thickener made from seaweed that you'll find in ice cream and -- dammit -- those yogurt tubes every single toddler ever just loves. So let's have it. How bad is carrageenan? How much damage does it do?

Numerous studies have shown carrageenan to cause everything from intestinal inflammation to colon cancer. Apparently the body considers it an invader. Concerned doctors have tried to get the FDA to ban it from foods, they're so freaked out over it, but so far no luck. Meanwhile, the European Union has banned it from baby formula. Wait -- it's in baby formula?!?

Yup. So that's ice cream, yogurt squeezers, formula, chocolate milk, almond milk, soy milk ... a lot of dairy products, in fact. It's used to give low-fat foods a "fattier" texture. These foods are supposed to be healthier for our kids, and even organic brands like Stonyfield Farms uses the stuff. Oh Stonyfield! I thought we could trust you.

So what's a parent to do?

More from The Stir: That Juice Box Could Be Killing Your Kid

Well, I know I'll be checking more labels from now on. But it just figures that a fat substitute would turn out to be a lot of trouble. I was already skeptical of low-fat foods. I choose whole-fat dairy every time because I think fear of fat is overblown. You need some fat to absorb vitamins, and if you're active and don't have any other health problems, it's fine, I think. Anyway, that's the strategy that's worked for me and my family.

But there are just certain foods your kids (and you?) love, and they all seem to have carrageenan. Maybe if we eat them only once in a while? We've never had any trouble digesting the stuff before, but ugh. Now that I've heard what carrageenan can do, I still think I'm going to avoid it, especially for my son.

Did you know that carrageenan could cause inflammation?


Image via Sean Benham/Flickr

kid health, kids nutrition


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Chana... Chanandler.Bong

Silk brand Almond milk does not contain carageenan. 

craft... craftycatVT

It's not like those yogurt tubes are good for kids anyway.

nicki... nicki.hemingway

My kids yogurt tubes doesn't have carrageenan.  Totally not concerned.  Plus I'd rather that over random food dye and flavoring that is linked to cancer. 

.LoVe... .LoVeMyBuG.

I give up. Seriously, EVERYTHING is bad for you in one way or another it seems. Even our fruits and vegetables are not safe, look at the recent Hepatitis outbreak from some organic berry blend, then there is all the GMO fruits & veggies! So what ARE we supposed to eat? It would be easier to have a 'safe list' of foods, if anything is even considered "safe" anymore. 

I will just buy and eat what we like, I try to buy food that is considered "healthy" but I am not going to live in fear of the food we eat... as everything seems to be causing cancer, or is bad for you in some way, so I will choose to live and hope for the best. 

corri... corrinacs

I haven't seen it in many foods, but I'll take a second look :).  Thanks for posting!  Having kids with food allergies sends me to the organic isle more often than not anyway.

Caera Caera

Real fat (in moderation, of course) is better for you than anything you could try to subsitute it with. Duh.

lalab... lalaboosh

I did not know this and I will not be buying anything with this ingredient. I don't think I get anything with this stuff in it, I don't usually feed my kid yogurt. I do give her coconut milk, though. I'll be checking that label for sure.

As for dairy and fat, I never go for low fat dairy if I can help it. Most of the useful nutrition is in the fat. :)

rthm rthm

 poligeenan and carrageenan. Look up the differences.  

tuffy... tuffymama

And this is why I feed the babies whole and truly natural foods. We know our farmers, and we select our meat animals personally. I realize everyone can't do that, so that is why I do all I can to work for the availability of REAL organic foods, raw milk, and clean water free of fluoride.

Teal Chastain Blacksten

@Lovemybug-I'm with you. People and the media have gotten so neurotic these days. Not everything is poison!

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