Carrageenan and Social Sustainability

Originally Published: August 26, 2016
Last Updated: February 4, 2021
carrageenan harvest

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Carrageenan, Sustainability and the Concept of “Employment Factor”

IMR International has developed a concept of “Employment Factor” for hydrocolloids. Biopolymers are produced by few people in highly automated production facilities. In the case of agricultural and aquatic hydrocolloids there are many more farmers and harvesters employed in producing the raw material, says Dennis Seisun, IMR’s founder.

Aquatic farming of carrageenan seaweed, for example, employs tens of thousands of low income farmers in the Philippines and Indonesia along with many other countries. A rough calculation by IMR based on market values and estimates of persons employed shows that $1.00 worth of some hydrocolloids employs over 100 times more persons than $1.00 worth of other hydrocolloids. This concept could well be used in promoting the social and sustainable aspect of the high “Employment Factor” hydrocolloids.

– IMR International, Organizers of THE Food Hydrocolloid Conference for 21 years. Details at

Update on Carrageenan and Health
Carrageenan has been linked to certain potentially harmful health issues. However, a just published peer-reviewed study in Elsevier’s  Food Chemical Toxicology notes that “In conclusion, CGN [carrageenan] was not absorbed, and was not cytotoxic. It did not induce oxidative stress, and did not induce proinflammatory proteins.”
Effects of Carrageenan on Cell Permeability, Cytotoxicity, and Cytokine Gene Expression in Human Intestinal and Hepatic Cell Lines. McKim, JM Jr, et. al., Food Chem Toxicol. 2016 Jul 14;96:1-10

Claudia Dziuk O’Donnell, Global Food Forums, Inc. Co-owner