NOSB Removes Carrageenan from Allowed Organic Additives

Nov 25, 2016


The November 18th Editorial in EGG-CITE reviewed the opposition of the Cornucopia Institute to carrageenan a widely used ingredient.  This versatile and valuable product derived from seaweed, is used extensively as a carrier, emulsifier, gelling agent, stabilizer and thickener in many foods, especially dairy products. 

Carrageenan is recognized as a sustainable ingredient and contrary to the information apparently reviewed by the current National Organic Standards Board (NOSB), there are no directly equivalent substitutes.  Prior to the decision of the NOSB, spurious and questionable pseudo-scientific evidence was advanced suggesting that carrageenan may be carcinogenic.


The Grocery Manufacturers Association deprecated the decision of the NOSB stating “carrageenan should remain on the National Organic Standards Board list of approved food additives because it has been proven safe for consumption and there is not an adequate alternative replacement that provides the same functions.” Dr. Leon Bruner chief scientific officer for the GMA noted “regulatory agencies and research organizations around the world have consistently determined carrageenan to be a safe and highly functional food additive.” 

Although this appears to be a victory for the proponents (or Luddites, as the case may be) advocating for “pure” and “organic” foods, the appointment of five qualified new members to the NOSB should result in a more scientific and logical evaluation of  products permitted in terms of the National Organic Program.