January 11, 2016 | Erin | 16 Comments What’s In That Can Of Dog Food? Recent history has shown that all pet owners need to be vigilant when it comes to the food that we feed our pets. We have found it necessary to become experts at reading labels and knowing what is safe for our pets. Today I want to talk about Carrageenan which is a common additive in pet foods. It has been estimated to be found in over 40% of wet or canned pet foods. Even though The Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO) considers it to be a safe additive, research suggests this may not be the case and it can possibly harm your pet. So why is it in so many pet foods? What Are Carrageenans Carrageenans are carbohydrate structures that are extracted from red seaweed. They are widely used due to their stabilizing properties and the ability to gel and thicken. They adhere to proteins such as meat as dairy. Carrageenan comes in 2 forms, degraded and undegraded. Undegraded is approved for use in food and is considered “Generally Recognized as Safe”, while degraded is not. What is significant to note is that, due to the thickening ability, it is also found in non-pet items such as ice cream, diet soda, beer, pates, infant formula, milk and milk products and shampoo. There is no nutritional value in Carrageenan and it is not digestible. What Research Has Uncovered The degraded version of Carrageenan is also called poligeenan and in high concentrations, has been shown to cause cancer. The undegraded version has only been shown to accelerate the formation of cancer when administered with a known carcinogen. While the distinction between what is possible in the two types is unclear, it does allow for the undegraded version to be considered a safe additive. Of additional concern is digestive issues. It has been determined that an immune response is triggered when ingesting carrageenan, one that is similar to the when the body is exposed to the bacteria found in Salmonella. Findings by veteran carrageenan researcher Joanne Tobacman, MD include: “research has shown that exposure causes inflammation and that when we consume processed foods containing it, we ingest enough to cause inflammation in our bodies. She explained that all forms of carrageenan are capable of causing inflammation. This is bad news. We know that chronic inflammation is a root cause of many serious diseases including heart disease, Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s diseases, and cancer. And she reported further that when laboratory mice are exposed to low concentrations of carrageenan for 18 days, they develop “profound” glucose intolerance and impaired insulin action, both of which can lead to diabetes. In The End… Carrageenan may not be as bad as some sources portray, but there is evidence that it can be harmful, especially if consumed regularly. Considering that it has no nutritional benefit, that is can possibility cause stomach upset and the cancer connection, carrageenan is not a recommended ingredient for pets or people. Again it is necessary to ask if it can harm my pet, why is it added to their food?