The Carrageenan Diet: Not Recommended

Document Type

Letter to the Editor

Publication Date



We read with great interest and concern recent reports of the spread of carrageenan-producing seaweeds in coral reefs in the Bay of Bengal, as well as in Butaritari, Kiribati, and other Pacific atolls [“Seaweed invader elicits angst in India,” P. Bagla, News of the Week, 6 June, p. 1271, and (1)]. The bio-invasion of carrageenan-producing, coral-destroying algae in remote Pacific atolls and marine reserves in the Gulf of Mannar Marine National Park is unfortunately a metaphor for the invasiveness of carrageenan in the Western diet and in other commonly used products. Although carrageenan exposure has been associated with development of inflammation in experimental models for decades (2), its use in processed foods (including infant formula and nutritional supplements) and other manufactured products (including pharmaceuticals, cosmetics, and toothpaste) continues to increase. In view of uncertainty about the safety of consumption of carrageenan-containing products, the efforts to cultivate carrageenan-producing seaweeds seem ill-advised.


Copyright © 2008 American Association for the Advancement of Science