THE Seaweed Industry Association of the Philippines (Siap) welcomed carrageenan’s retention in the list of approved food additives in the United States.

The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) recently announced it has renewed carrageenan among the “allowed substances” in its National List of Allowed and Prohibited Substances (National List) regulated by the USDA National Organic Program, according to a report by Josyline Javellosa, the country’s agriculture attache in Washington D.C.

USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) reviewed the National Organic Standards Board’s (NOSB’s) sunset review and decided to renew all 17 substances, including carrageenan, despite the recommendation of the NOSB not to renew carrageenan.

The USDA announcement concludes the 2018 Sunset Review. The new sunset date for these substances in the National List is on May 29, 2023.

“Certainly the news of reapproving carrageenan as acceptable food additives in the US is a welcome development. This will encourage fisher folks to continue seaweeds farming,” said SIAP chairman Max Ricohermoso, noting that the issue has concerned industry players and the 300,000 seaweed farmers in the Philippines.

“Seaweed processors will also be encouraged to make new carrageenan application for food and other products,” he added.

Siap has been raising a strong drive against negative campaigns by competitors and anti-carrageenan advocates in past years.

Carrageenan is a gelatinous substance used in food, cosmetics and pharmaceuticals that is derived from seaweed. It is commonly used as a thickener and stabilizer in infant formula, dairy products, non-dairy “milk” analogs, meats and drink mixes. The substances in the national list are used in organic crop and livestock production and organic handling/processing.

The AMS found evidence that carrageenan continues to be necessary for handling agricultural products because of the unavailability of wholly natural substitutes.

The Philippines is the top exporter of carageenan to the United States. Last year, its exports to the US further went down to $28.1 million following the NOSB’s recommendation to delist it from the approved substances. (KOC)