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What is carrageenan?

  Did you know that many foods contain carrageenan as an additive? The association of “glue” with food will make many consumers who are not food professionals resist, and the word “Kara” is even more confusing. Some frozen foods will not completely melt under high temperature, is it because of the addition of carrageenan? Is this carrageenan the glue used to make shoes?
Is Carrageenan Mysterious?

  When it comes to starch and lotus root starch, everyone must be familiar with it and not reject it. In fact, carrageenan is somewhat similar to them.
  Carrageenan is a general term for a class of linear sulfated polysaccharides extracted from marine red algae. As a safe natural additive, carrageenan is mostly used as a coagulant, thickener and stabilizer in the food industry, daily chemical industry and other fields. From form to function, carrageenan is very similar to starch. Both carrageenan and starch are polysaccharides, which are also extracted from plants. They will form hydrocolloids when exposed to water, and both have the effect of thickening food.

Carrageenan Extracted from Red Algae

Cooking often adds starch to thicken and thicken, and carrageenan has a similar effect

  Carrageenan is also as common as starch. Just like cooking often needs to add starch to thicken, it is always necessary to thicken when making dairy products, yogurt, or making meat pies and sauces. At this time, colloids must be added, and carrageenan is the representative Vegetable colloids are often the best choice because they can bind to proteins and perform very well in food processing. Carrageenan is not without alternatives, but giving up carrageenan is tantamount to giving up many mature food recipes.
  To set and thicken, carrageenan also needs to be combined with ingredients such as sugar, fat or other thickeners. It can remain intact at high temperatures, and the liquid melt will not flow, which is more due to the high proportion of solids in the food and the low liquid content.
  As for whether carrageenan can be used to make shoes, the answer is of course “no”. After all, you don’t use paste (the main ingredients are water and starch) to paste Spring Festival couplets, just because you can use paste to stick shoes.
How was carrageenan born?

  Carrageenan, like starch, has a long history of consumption. As early as 600 BC, my country has used red algae as medicine. In 400 BC, the Irish began to use red algae as food, and the “Kara” of carrageenan is the Irish word for red algae. Yes, carrageenan originates from the island of Ireland. The Irish dried, washed and boiled red algae and added the resulting goo, which was carrageenan, to pies, desserts and beer.

Carrageenan-based blancmange is a traditional Irish dessert

  In 1819, English botanist Turner scientifically recorded the function of carrageenan for the first time, and predicted that this raw material would play a great role in the future. With the development of the food industry, the production and extraction technology of carrageenan became increasingly mature after World War II, and finally became a reliable and common food raw material and was widely used.
Is there a food safety issue with carrageenan?

  Carrageenan has been certified by food regulatory agencies in China, the United States, Europe, Japan, Brazil and other countries and regions. The World Health Organization, Food and Agriculture Organization, and the WHO Joint Expert Committee on Food Additives all believe that carrageenan is safe. Of course, there are still some studies questioning the safety of carrageenan, mainly focusing on whether excessive consumption can affect gut health, but these views are currently controversial.
  According to the “National Food Safety Standard Food Additive Use Standard” issued by the former National Health and Family Planning Commission (now the National Health and Medical Commission), carrageenan is only used in cream, butter and concentrated butter, raw wet noodles, spices, and fruit and vegetable juices. It is required to “use in moderation according to production needs”. This means that carrageenan is not “excessively added” in most food categories. This also proves from the side that carrageenan is a recognized and safe food additive. In fact, in food production, few manufacturers will add carrageenan in large quantities. The thickening effect of carrageenan can only be achieved within a certain range of adding amount, and adding too much or too little will not work.
  All in all, there are no studies that can shake the conclusion that carrageenan is safe and reliable. In fact, carrageenan is a soluble dietary fiber that can completely pass through the human digestive system, which means that theoretically, carrageenan will not be absorbed by the human body.

Carrageenan is a safe additive
In what fields is carrageenan used?

  Due to its natural harmlessness, excellent functionality, reliability and applicability, carrageenan is being widely used in food, daily chemical, pet food and other industrial fields. It can thicken dairy products and improve the taste; it can prevent whey from separating during the ice cream making process and prevent the formation of water crystals; it can increase the viscosity of sauces; it can replace fat in meat products and increase the water holding capacity of products ; It can be used as a clarifying agent for flocculent protein in beer; it can enhance the taste of soda water and preserve the flavor; the hydrocolloid made of carrageenan is also one of the main optional raw materials for making fruit jelly. When you go to the supermarket, if you pay more attention to the ingredient lists of yogurt, toffee, ham sausage, quick-frozen buns and even instant noodles, it is not difficult to find traces of carrageenan.
  In addition to traditional commodities, carrageenan is also “showing its prowess” in the current hot research and development field of “plant meat”. Just imagine, if there is no thickener, how can the processed vegetable protein be made into a firm “meat”? Fortunately, carrageenan can replace animal-based gelatin, which is made from animal bones and fur, in most cases. Plant-based colloids represented by carrageenan can not only realize the function of gelatin, but also ensure that the product is completely free of animal ingredients, thus bringing convenience to the research and development of plant-based products.

Carrageenan can be used as a clarifying agent for flocculent proteins in beer

New Meat Substitutes

  In fact, there have been various reports about food additives for several years. And when we scientifically understand the additive carrageenan, we will find that it is because of the thickener such as carrageenan that we can enjoy some delicacies, such as ice cream, anytime and anywhere in summer.
  As a natural food additive that can reduce the amount of added salt and fat, increase the shelf life of food, and be environmentally friendly, carrageenan still has great potential in the development of healthy food in the future.

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