Infant-formula_406x250At its meeting last week in Geneva, the Joint FAO/WHO Expert Committee on Food Additives (JECFA) concluded that the use of carrageenan in infant formula, or formula for special medical purposes, at concentrations up to 1,000 milligrams per liter is “not of concern.” Seaweed industry organization Marinalg International says that the seaweed-derived additive used to stabilize infant formula “has significant positive impacts on the product, including ensuring vital nutrients remain stable and available to infants.” Carrageenan has sometimes been linked to gastrointestinal problems, but JECFA reported that “These new studies allay the earlier concerns that carrageenan, which is unlikely to be absorbed, may have a direct effect on the immature gut.” They also analyzed the previous toxicological database on carrageenan, which did not indicate other toxicological concerns. The report also stated that carrageenan at concentrations higher than 2,500 milligrams per kilogram “becomes highly viscous” in formula, which “adversely affects palatability and growth.” The committee acknowledged that there is variability in medical conditions among infants requiring formulas for special medical purposes that contain the higher levels of carrageenan, and it noted that these infants would normally be under medical supervision.

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