Comment on “Revisiting the carrageenan controversy: do we really understand the digestive fate and safety of carrageenan in our foods?” by S. David, C. S. Levi, L. Fahoum, Y. Ungar, E. G. Meyron-Holtz, A. Shpigelman and U. Lesmes, Food Funct., 2018, 9, 1344–1352
Carrageenan (CGN) is a polysaccharide that is found in various types of sea weed. It is a common food additive used for its gelling and thickening properties and has been used safely throughout the world for decades. CGN is approved as Generally Recognized as Safe (GRAS) by the United States Food and Drug Administration and is also considered safe for the general population by the World Health Organizations Joint Expert Committee on Food Additive (JECFA) and the European Food Safety Authority. CGN has been tested for safety in various animal models for many years and more recently in an array of in vitro or cell-based models. A recent review published by this journal entitled “Revisiting the Carrageenan controversy: Do we really understand the digestive fate and safety of carrageenan in our foods?” has provided the impetus for this commentary (S. David, et al., Food Funct., 2018, 9(3), 1344–1352). It is important that our food is safe, and clearly there are examples of food additives that were found to be unsafe after years of use, but the issue is the need for accurate interpretation of previously published studies and the need for designing and conducting experiments that can be used to make decisions on safety. It is our hope that this commentary brings to light some of the important physical and chemical properties of CGN and how information can be easily misinterpreted.