If you take a can of wet cat food, it’s highly likely that you’ll see carrageenan on its ingredient list. If you go online to learn more about it, however, you’ll see articles listing carrageenan as a “no-no” ingredient in cat food.
So, is carrageenan really that bad? The answer is a simple – No.
In this article, we’ll uncover the truth about carrageenan in cat food, as there is a ton of misinformation about it on the internet.
What Exactly Is Carrageenan?
In simple terms, carrageenan is a polysaccharide obtained from certain members of the class Rhodophyceae, otherwise known as red seaweeds.
Carrageenan has been FDA-approved since 1961, and its use is widespread in the food industry today.
You can find it in jelly, fudge, ice cream, soy sauce, ham, sausages, canned meat, and a bunch of other food items, including cat food.
Why Is It Added To Food?
If you look at the FDA’s list of approved food ingredients, you’ll see it’s listed as:
• a fat replacer – as it mimics the texture and taste of fats
• a stabilizer – as it keeps all of the food components mixed together
• a thickener – as it increases the thickness of the food product’s consistency
• a binder – as it holds the product together
• a texturizer – as it creates a specific texture in the food product
Carrageenan is also an inert ingredient, meaning it has no nutritional value, nor does it add any flavor or odor to the food.
So, is it used in both human and cat food? The answer is yes! Essentially, you can find this ingredient everywhere!
Why Do People Think Carrageenan Is Bad?
Let me first note that there are three types of carrageenan.
|Type of carrageenan||Is it safe for consumption?||Is it used in the food industry?|
|1. Food-grade carrageenan (or just carrageenan)||Yes||Yes|
|2. Degraded carrageenan||No||No|
As you can see, only one type of carrageenan is used in the food industry. However, not many people know this.
The debate around the use of carrageenan in food arises when people attribute the negative health effects of degraded carrageenan and poligeenan to the regular, safe carrageenan that is used in food.
Degraded carrageenan and poligeenan have been proven to cause negative side-effects for our health, and therefore they are not used in food products!
A 2019 scientific paper about the misconceptions regarding carrageenan states:
“Human consumption of food-grade carrageenan as a food additive is completely safe with no demonstrated adverse effect.”
Your kitty’s food definitely does not contain degraded carrageenan and poligeenan, but rather the safe type of carrageenan.
Therefore, I would say you’ve got nothing to worry about.
The Verdict: To Use Carrageenan-Free Food Or Not?
Now that you have all of the information about carrageenan, you can decide if you’re going to continue giving your feline regular canned food, or opt for carrageenan-free cat food.
The choice is really up to you!
If you’d like to have complete piece of mind and giving your cat food containing carrageenan is unsettling to you, then I suggest you switch to cat food that is free of carrageenan.
However, if you’re confident in the research provided here, then you know it’s completely safe to continue giving your cat food that contains carrageenan.
I don’t recommend cat owners to switch strictly to carrageenan-free cat food, as there is no scientific evidence that food containing carrageenan is bad for felines.
At the end of the day, the most important thing is to have the facts presented to you, and then it’s up to you to decide what’s best for your feline and you!