Typically used in loaf or pate canned foods, carrageenan gum is found in many brands of pet foods across the pet industry, but what is Carrageenan? Carrageenan is derived from red seaweed, which might seem harmless, considering many other seaweeds are very nutritious. Due to its thickening/gelling properties and its ability to strongly bind proteins together, carrageenan has been used as a binding agent in many dairy and meat products. You can find degraded and undegraded versions of carrageenan in a variety of products like toothpaste, shampoo, gel air fresheners, jelly, ice cream, sodas and even yogurt. It is also a common substitute for gelatin, in vegan/vegetarian products and even some organic products.
“Food-grade or “undegraded” carrageenan is on the Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA’s) list of items that are “Generally Recognized as Safe (GRAS),” and the Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO) defines it as an acceptable emulsifier, stabilizer, and thickener.”
Why is KOHA Super Premium Pet Food carrageenan free?
After working at pet stores for a total of ten years, I found that customers always had questions, concerns, or opinions that I couldn’t always answer. One day, a customer asked me if we sold any carrageenan free cat food, and at that point no one had ever asked me about carrageenan gum, so I went home and began doing some reading and research of my own. (I suggest for every pet owner to do some research about carrageenan and some of the other ingredients you might not have heard of that are currently in your pets food.) Anyways, when we decided on ingredients for our Mauri pet food, we decided to stay away from carrageenan due to many concerning research studies that have been or are being done today.
The first research studies I found discussed the effects of carrageenan during the digestion process of the consumer. Research has shown that the body begins to produce a “messenger molecule” or cytokine which plays the role of cell signaling. Cytokines are released by cells and affect the behavior of other cells and even the releasing cell itself. The cytokine produced by carrageenan is called tumor necrosis factor alpha. That specific cytokine stimulates inflammation and or apoptosis (cell death). The functions of these cells are to maintain a healthy immune system and to defend the immune system from bacterias. The issue with this process is that the “tumor necrosis factor alpha” is known to be a factor in many inflammatory related diseases, and all forms of carrageenan will produce this cytokine. We do not know that this research is one hundred percent accurate but we do know that the last thing our furry friends need is anything remotely inflammatory because intestinal inflammation can lead to many issues like IBD (inflammatory bowel disease), Diabetes, or even cancer development.
The second set of articles and research we discovered about carrageenan, talked about how carrageenan has been used to induce intestinal inflammation in order to test the effectiveness of anti-inflammatory medicines. That being said, we do not know whether or not the carrageenan that is being used in pet food is human grade or not human grade but research and studies seem to show some evidence of carrageenan being an inflammatory ingredient either way. As I’ve stated in other blogs, every animal is different and every animal has different food intolerances, so this article is not about carrageenan being bad its just explaining the few reasons why we decided to keep it out of our KOHA formulas.
In our KOHA pet food you will find New Zealand Green Mussel which has many beneficial components like omega fatty acids, healthy carbohydrate, and a little protein but most importantly it is in our KOHA formulas for its anti-inflammatory/joint support properties. The last thing we wanted was to add an ingredient like carrageenan which would counteract the anti-inflammatory benefits of our New Zealand Green Mussel.