The carcinogen hiding in your {cow, coconut, rice, almond, soy} milk

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Carrageenan in store-bought milk

If you buy {cow, coconut, rice, almond, soy} milk from the grocery store, you may be purchasing a product with a potential carcinogen in it: carrageenan. Oh, you buy organic? Well it still might be in there.

Carrageenan is a substance that is extracted from red seaweed (so naturally-derived) and widely used in the food industry for its thickening and stabilizing properties. It is most commonly used in milk and milk products including non-dairy milk alternatives such as coconut, rice, soy, and almond milk.


Carrageenan is one of the additives that has been ushered through the National Organic Standards Board (NOSB) technical review process in the scandal that has been referred to as the “Organic Watergate.” In essence, it really should not have been approved for use in organic food (or any food!) but due to corporate pressure, now appears in many brands of “organic” as well as non-organic milk and milk-alternative products.

So why shouldn’t carrageenan be in our food? As much as 25% of the carregeenan on the market is characterized as “degraded.” Furthermore, all carrageenan can degrade in the body, in the gastrointestinal tract and liver, where it causes serious inflammation and intestinal abnormalities. These side effects are well-known among the scientific community as carrageenan is given to lab animals to produce inflammatory symptoms in order to test anti-inflammatory drugs. What’s more, degraded carrageenan is also a potential carcinogen. In fact, the World Health Organization’s International Agency for Research on Cancer and the National Research Council of the United States have deemed carrageenan to be a carcinogen.

What can you do? If you are a cow milk drinker, the best option is buying raw milk from a local farmer you trust and who does not use hormones or antibiotics. Living in the city, I get my raw milk from a local co-op that gets a bi-weekly shipment from Lancaster, PA. If you prefer non-dairy alternatives, consider making your own almond milk or coconut milk (click here to get the recipe). Otherwise, check out Cornucopia Institute’s Shopping Guide to Avoiding Organic Foods with Carrageenan to find a store-bight milk without carrageenan.

Picture 12

Source: Cornucopia Institute.


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  1. I couldn’t agree more (I’m not telling other people to drink raw milk, that’s just what I choose to do).

  2. The problem with these alternatives is its not sustainable for everybody. If we all decided that we should be drinking raw milk from the local farmer, the local farmer would not have enough to supply us all. What needs to change is getting these carcinogens out of our food supply through lobbying and government. We need to tell the food producers we don’t want this in our food. If enough noise is raised maybe then something will be done about it.

  3. There is really no need for such hostility, particularly when the fact that I drink RAW milk from pasture-raised cows was not the point of the post. This post is about carrageenan. If you want to learn about RAW milk and the health benefits, remember: Google is your friend. I simply refuse to respond to bullies – no mature dialogue would result.

    Also, I highly suggest you know your facts before you respond so rudely: “There is no such thing as raw milk.”

    May you find mindfulness. Namaste.

  4. you’re naive if you think cow’s milk is safe to drink. All the pollution that lands on the crops gets concentrated in the cow’s fat reserves, and is released into her milk. You’re drinking Dioxin and Perchlorate, and all the petroleum based pesticides, herbicides and fertilizers that accumulate in her feed, unless it’s organic milk (what does raw mean to you? There is no such thing as raw milk). And even if it’s organic you’re getting all the hormones the cow naturally produces during her pregnancy. Want breast or prostate cancer? keep drinking that moo-juice.

  5. love your blog – this is totally unrelated – I LOVE your nail polish in the picture! What color/brand? I am a serial nail polish collector – I use organic products for all my beauty needs but I will never be able to give up my chanel/diors.

    thank you for everything, your blog has rekindled my passion and set me on the right path!

  6. Carrageenan is in a lot of other things too! Deli meats (even Hormel, the ‘natural’ brand). I also noticed that almost all canned dog foods have it too! This is a carcinogen for them too! and does ‘guar gum’ the same effect? because if a product doesn’t have carageenan in it, it usually has that or a substitute 🙁

  7. Many chocolate milks have Carrageenan in it. My lo loves chocolate milk and so far the only one we found that doesn’t have that ingredient is Organic Valley.

  8. My brand of coconut milk (low fat too) ‘Ayam’ has no Carrageenan in it/ I buy it at my local supermarket (Woolies) in Aust. It comes from Malaysia.

  9. What about carrageen in toothpaste? You endorsed Tom’s of Maine in one of your posts, but it does have carrageen in it. I can understand not directly ingesting it (such as drinking a glass of dairy/nondairy milk), but what about toothpaste? I work at a natural food store, and they carry multiple fluoride/SLS/triclosan-free brands, but most, it not all, have carrageen in it. It seems just about everything, even plant-based, has some sort of toxin!

  10. i work at an elixir bar. the best blenders we have are really expensive, but darn they make some good, creamy nut mylks. It’s unreal how good it can be, filtering these mylks through a nut mylk bag. You can use the paste in other fun things, like “nut cheese”, or pate. Etc.
    That said, those blenders are like $500+.
    I am a fan currently of the Nutri-bullet. It really is cost effective, and can help you make the kind of blend nut mylk products that a normal blender usually doesn’t make (because it ends up grainy)>
    Let me know if you’ve had any success with other blenders, too>


  11. Is this also true for red seaweed or just this derived product? is it the process that makes it carcinogen?