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

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

  2. 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>


  3. 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!

  4. 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.

  5. 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.

  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. 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!

  8. 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.

  9. 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.

  10. 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.

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

  12. Good article. My wife and I have eliminated dairy and grain fed beef from our diet. I’m currently reading ” never fear cancer again ” by Raymond Francis. It has lots of info on what foods To avoid and why. Regards Paul.

  13. Raw milk, for those who don’t know, is unpasteurized milk. It’s milk taken direct from the cow to you with no processing in between. Unless you know the farmer well and know what he feeds his cows, you may be getting other unwanted things in your milk, and drinking unpasteurized milk can have other risks. But even if you want to drink this, in most states it’s illegal to sell so you can’t even get it unless you raise your own cow.

    Carrageenan, which apparently was approved because it’s considered ‘natural’, since it’s derived from seaweed, has become prevalent everywhere. There is virtually no dairy product other than milk itself that doesn’t contain it. Even if it wasn’t carcinogenic (which I don’t know if it is or isn’t), it still causes gastrointestinal problems for many people who, like me, have become sensitive to it. I can no longer eat anything with carrageenan in it without suffering hours of severe stomach cramps afterward. This has taken heavy cream, eggnog, buttermilk, ice cream, and chocolate milk, all of which I love, completely out of my diet in the past year. All because there is not a brand of any of these products to be found in my local grocery stores without it. Even most substitutes such as soy milk (which was the original product that started my stomach problems) contain this stuff. I now have to look into making my own ice cream and eggnog at home, as well as buttermilk and heavy cream substitutes made from milk and half-and-half (which luckily is still carrageenan-free). I wish we could go back to whatever they were using before carrageenan, because it didn’t make me sick!

    Now, if only I could find pasteurized eggs for my eggnog….

  14. I’m just looking into the new meds. I was prescribed
    I’ve had a severe stomach ache ever since
    starting them. I’m also allergic to All fish product
    When I realized carrageenan was a filler it
    Opened my eyes to the reason I had soooo
    Many stomach aches. I certainly wish there
    Was a way to STOP the use of the POISON!!

  15. I just bought a few cartons of almond milk. Can carrageenan be filtered out of this? If it’s a thickener, wouldn’t a good filter paper catch it?

  16. Thank you for this pile of information on carrageenan. What about other inflammation inducing additives in our daily food..? And by the way, the computer’s screen is also quite “unhealthy” with this constant bright screen we must look at when reading…HJow to prevent damage to our vision?? Lutheine only or are there other supplements that can come to help our eyes…?

    Thanks. Jacques

  17. Nadia,

    Thank you for this wonderful article about carrageenan. I now look for it in all my purchases. I was startled to find it in ice cream as well as many other items. I’ve made a like to your page on our website for women with cancer. Please feel free to contact us if you write any more articles on cancer related subjects.