JECFA Finds Carrageenan Safe For Use in Infant Formula and Formula for Special Medical Purposes

At its 79th meeting in June, the Joint FAO/WHO Expert Committee on Food Additives (JECFA) completed an in depth review of the science related to the safety of carrageenan finding it to be safe for use in infant formula and formula for special medical purposes intended for infants.

After reviewing the available research on carrageenan safety, particularly a new study of piglets that is representative of human infants consuming carrageenan in infant formula, JECFA, concluded that the use of carrageenan in infant formula or formula for special medical purposes at concentrations up to 1000 mg/L is not of concern.

JECFA is a respected scientific review panel that evaluates the safety of food additives. Its reports are used to guide food additive regulatory approvals around the world and are one of the most important testimonials that can be given to the safety of any food additive. JECFA reviews also inform the Codex Alimentarius Committee on Food Additives, which sets international consensus standards on the use of food additives. Carrageenan was one of four food additives reviewed in 2014 for use in infant formula by a special JECFA committee.

JECFA’s findings are the latest in a series of global reviews that have examined scientific research on carrageenan and reaffirmed its safety for continued use in food, including infant formula. The piglet study cited by JECFA was conducted by an independent laboratory and supported by carrageenan producers and an industry which uses carrageenan and serves a very sensitive population. As recently as 2013, U.S. regulatory agencies continued approval of carrageenan for use in organic infant formula and other organic food.

The full JECFA Summary and Conclusions document is available here.