Improving the Organic Standards
Removing Carrageenan from Organic Foods
On November 17, 2016, the National Organic Standards Board (NOSB) voted to prohibit carrageenan as an ingredient in organic foods.
However, this doesn't mean that carrageenan will no longer be allowed in organic foods right away. The NOSB's vote passed a recommendation to the Secretary of Agriculture to remove carrageenan from the list of substances that are exempt from the organic law's prohibition on synthetic and non-organic ingredients.
Our advocacy work to remove carrageenan from organic foods will continue until the U.S. Department of Agriculture publishes a final rule to remove carrageenan from organic foods.
Based on our review of the scientific literature on carrageenan, we don't think it should be allowed in foods with the "organic" label.
Non-organic ingredients like carrageenan are prohibited in organic foods unless they meet all criteria outlined in federal law. One of the criteria that non-organic ingredients have to meet is that they pose no harm to human health.
Based on our review of the scientific literature on carrageenan, we urged the National Organic Standards Board to vote to prohibit carrageenan from organic foods. Animal studies have shown that carrageenan can cause inflammation, ulcerative-colitis-like disease, intestinal lesions and ulcerations in some animals, and may act as a promoter of colon cancer.
Our advocacy work to remove carrageenan from organic foods
Our written comment to the NOSB takes an in-depth look at the science behind carrageenan.