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USDA OKs carrageenan for organic food
Date Published：4/10/2018 11:04:17 AM
DuPont Nutrition & Health, a major player in food-grade carrageenan market, shares that the company along with a coalition of scientists, dietitians, food producers, environmentalists, seaweed farmers and consumers welcomed United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) decision allowing the continued application of carrageenan in U.S. organic foods.
Going over scientific evidence and stakeholder comments, the USDA deemed carrageenan as safe and of value as a food ingredient, turning down the National Organic Standards Board (NOSB) which appealed for the elimination of carrageenan from the US list of ingredients allowed in organic foods.
In the Federal Register notice, the USDA stated that “carrageenan continues to be necessary for handling agricultural products because of the unavailability of wholly natural substitutes. Carrageenan has specific uses in an array of agricultural products, and public comments reported that potential substitutes do not adequately replicate the functions of carrageenan across the broad scope of use.” The USDA concluded renewal of carrageenan to the National List “will avoid potential disruptions to the organic industry and the public.”
In an independent survey of food formulation professionals, carrageenan emerged as the most accepted ingredient for certain foods, even surpassing some ingredients also approved for use in organic products.
Carrageenan is the only approved non-synthetic stabiliser currently allowed for use in U.S. liquid organic infant formula. A report by the United Nations’ Joint Food & Agriculture Organization / World Health Organization (FAO/WHO) Expert Committee on Food concluded that carrageenan is safe for use to stabilize and keep nutrients properly disbursed in infant formula.
“We commend the USDA for taking seriously its responsibility to review the NOSB recommendation and make a decision based on the facts and science,” said Michiel van Genugten, global product line manager, Seaweed Extracts & Colors. “This will allow organic food producers to continue to use a safe, versatile ingredient they rely on, and for consumers to enjoy the foods they know and love.”
During the comment period preceding the NOSB recommendation, scientists, professional food formulators, representatives of industry and from NGOs, seaweed farmers, and consumers testified to carrageenan’s ongoing value as an ingredient in organic foods and as an industry that employs 75,000 family seaweed farmers in developing economies around the world:
- Carrageenan is sustainably harvested and readily available; some carrageenan alternatives have patent restrictions that limit suppliers.
- Reformulation that eliminates carrageenan may alter color, odor, and taste in some products and could add significant costs.
- Seaweed farming is one of the most environmentally friendly types of aquaculture: It uses no arable land, freshwater, chemical treatments or fertilizers.
- Carrageenan farming has helped lift families out of poverty and improved the economic well-being and social fabric of thousands of communities in countries across Southeast Asia and Africa.
- There are decades of research affirming carrageenan’s safety as an additive. Even the NOSB acknowledged that there is no credible evidence showing carrageenan is unsafe, stating, “We find that the body of scientific evidence does not support claims of widespread negative human health impacts from consumption of carrageenan in processed foods.”
ASEAN largest producer of carrageenan
A market report released by Mordor Intelligence said that Asia Pacific where high quality carrageenan is produced, will account for 80% of global market share in 2018, with the Philippines on top, producing mostly semi-refined carrageenan. Indonesia is the second largest producer of carrageenan in Asia, followed by China, and Malaysia. Vietnam is also boosting its carrageenan yield.
In 2017, the ASEAN Seaweed Industry Club which includes various groups such as the Seaweed Industry Association of the Philippines, were among organisations that presented their case to the USDA should it approve NOSB’s recommendation.