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Food Funct. 2018 Mar 1;9(3):1344-1352. doi: 10.1039/c7fo01721a. Epub 2018 Feb 22.

Revisiting the carrageenan controversy: do we really understand the digestive fate and safety of carrageenan in our foods?

Author information

1
Laboratory of Chemistry of Foods and Bioactives, Department of Biotechnology and Food Engineering, Technion - Israel Institute of Technology, Haifa, Israel. lesmesu@bfe.technion.ac.il.
2
Laboratory of Molecular Nutrition, Department of Biotechnology and Food Engineering, Technion - Israel Institute of Technology, Haifa, Israel.
3
Biotechnology Engineering Department, ORT Braude College, P.O. Box 78, 21982 Karmiel, Israel.
4
Laboratory for Novel Food and Bioprocessing, Department of Biotechnology and Food Engineering, Technion - Israel Institute of Technology, Haifa, Israel.

Abstract

Carrageenan (CGN), a family of marine polysaccharides isolated from seaweeds, has been at the heart of considerable debate in recent years. To date, CGN is generally recognized as safe based on a history of safe use, various acute toxicology studies and some recent chronic toxicology tests. This review offers readers an overview of evidence on CGN characteristics and digestive fate that highlight various gaps in our understanding. Specifically, three unresolved gaps are identified. Firstly, little information can be found on the current levels of public exposure to CGN. Secondly, the link between CGN physicochemical properties, its impact on digestive proteolysis, the colon microbiome and inflammation are yet to be fully resolved. Thirdly, scant scientific evidence exists on the differential digestive fate of CGN in the gut of liable and predisposed populations, such as elderly people or IBD patients. Altogether, revisiting the scientific evidence indicates that more research is needed to elucidate the possibility that continued exposure to increasing levels of CGN in the human diet may compromise human health and well-being.

PMID:
29469913
DOI:
10.1039/c7fo01721a
[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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