Consumer pressure gets a nasty additive out of two big brands

Posted by
September 4, 2014


Money talks.

That may be a worn-out and tired cliché, but it was never truer.

Just last week, WhiteWave Foods, the company that makes Horizon and Silk brands, announced it will be removing carrageenan from those products.

First, all Horizon flavored milks will give carrageenan the boot, followed next year by other Horizon organic products, such as eggnog, whipping cream, cottage cheese and sour cream.

As for Silk, by next year its soy and coconut beverages will be carrageenan free as well.

Now of course, the company still maintains carrageenan is safe. But consumer “feedback” told them “it was time to make a change.”

“Feedback” is a bit of an underestimate.

What really happened is a lot more than just some emails from customers.

First, an irate group of consumers led by popular food blogger Vani Hari – The Food Babe – started sounding the alarm about carrageenan in 2012. And last year the Cornucopia Institute issued a big report titled: Carrageenan, How a ‘natural’ food additive is making us sick.”  The Cornucopia report details all the scientific evidence that shows consuming this additive can do some nasty things to your health.

And then, last year Food Identity Theft added carrageenan to its list of top food additives to avoid, giving more press and consumer attention to the issue.

We also did an investigation into carrageenan in pet food, finding that our four-legged friends are no safer from this gut-wrenching additive than we are.

If you missed any of those reports, here’s why you want to avoid carrageenan, and why WhiteWave is probably happy to have washed its hands of it.

Experts have been questioning the use of this additive, the sole purpose of which is thickening foods and adding a good “mouth feel” as industry calls it, since the 1960s.

Derived from red seaweed, the carrageenan used by the food industry is called “food grade,” but it appears that this more edible-sounding version can turn into the potent inflammatory and carcinogenic “degraded” version in the human GI tract. (The “degraded” version is so strong it’s used to induce inflammation in laboratory animals to test anti-inflammatory drugs).

The Cornucopia Institute report showed how regular consumption of carrageenan can produce “prolonged and constant” inflammation, which is a “precursor to more serious disease.”

And one of the worst aspects of this is that even usually additive-free organic foods can contain carrageenan. All of which makes label-reading a must (on pet food, too) if you want to avoid it.

And thanks to all the attention it’s been getting lately, a whole lot of consumers want to avoid it.

While this is a great start, other “natural” sounding products still contain the additive, including Blue Diamond and Pacific brand Almond “milk,” Starbucks soy milk latte, numerous brands of yogurt and Ben and Jerry’s ice cream.

HFCS, another additive consumers want no part of

But the biggest consumer challenge, and success, is going on with the laboratory sweetener high fructose corn syrup

It seems like every week you hear of another brand that’s opting out of using this corn-derived, man-made sweetener, and bringing back real sugar.

That’s why you can find “NO HIGH FRUCTOSE CORN SYRUP” on more product labels all the time, especially soft drinks – including the biggest brands, like Pepsi.

Remember – HFCS made its debut by being quietly added to these beverages in the 1970s. So maybe it will go out the same door it came in.

And when it does disappear from food and drinks entirely – and that day will come — we can all give ourselves a big collective pat on the back.