FoodDive Article Debunks Carrageenan Criticism

On July 14, the food news website FoodDive published an article, “Fear Mongering Continues with Carrageenan”, which was authored and placed by Food Science Matters.

The article provides a strong defense of carrageenan while refuting the claims of the Cornucopia Institute and Dr. Joanne Tobacman ahead of the NOSB upcoming decision on relisting carrageenan in organic foods. Most of the article is spent discrediting Dr. Tobacman’s studies, explaining that her evidence of harm from carrageenan has been debunked, many of her studies examined poligeenan not carrageenan, and that the results of her studies have not been replicated. Scathing criticism of Cornucopia is also provided with the article noting, among other things, that Cornucopia has conducted no research on carrageenan and is a trade group that is well practiced at distorting or falsely discrediting science to further its agenda.

In particular, the article very clearly explains why certain carrageenan studies, such as Tobacman’s and the thousands of other studies that Cornucopia claims demonstrate harmful effects of carrageenan, should be discounted by the NOSB and anyone else researching carrageenan safety:

  1. You need to eliminate drinking water studies because that is not how humans consume carrageenan.
  2. You need to eliminate animal injection studies because carrageenan when eaten is excreted by the body without entering the system.
  3. You need to eliminate cellular studies on organs carrageenan would never reach.
  4. You would have to recognize that carrageenan does not degrade into poligeenan during human digestion. (The conditions of temperature and acidity in the human body make that degradation impossible).”

The article also criticizes Dr. Linely Dixon, an Analyst for Cornucopia and author of an earlier article highly critical of carrageenan (available here), for a number of missteps and falsehoods. Among other things, the article notes that Dixon, who has a PhD in plant pathology and a master’s degree in soil science, is not a toxicologist and cannot respond to legitimate criticisms of Cornucopia’s position. For example, Dixon has, disparaged Zea Sonnabend, the lead scientific reviewer of carrageenan on the NOSB because Sonnabend expressed skepticism of Cornucopia’s arguments and support for carrageenan safety. The article also notes that Sonnebend has characterized Cornucopia’s incessant claims that studies supporting carrageenan safety are biased because they are funded by industry as a failure on the part of Cornucopia.