Nineteenth International Seaweed Symposium

Volume 2 of the series Developments in Applied Phycology pp 55-63

Public health and carrageenan regulation: a review and analysis

  • Duika Burges WatsonAffiliated withInstitute of Health and Society, Newcastle University Email author 

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The status of carrageenan in the regulatory sphere influences how and where it may be used, with implications for seaweed farmers, carrageenan manufacturers and consumers. Over the period 1935 to the present the status of carrageenan has been effected by changes in the regulatory environment that reflect new understandings about carrageenan, health and health risks as well as broader trade, social and political changes. This paper reviews regulatory progress from the 1930s to the present. It reflects, in particular, the shifting priorities in public health and their effects on the regulatory status of carrageenan. Four case studies of public controversies about carrageenan safety are discussed in relation to regulatory responses and their public health significance. It is concluded that current assessments of risk associated with carrageenan have, in some contexts, failed to take into account the full spectrum of safety assessments that have been carried out and the maturing of food additive regulations thereby allowing a myth of risk to continue.


Carrageenan Degraded carrageenan Food regulation Health risk Poligeenan Public health