Food grade carrageenan was of a low acute oral toxicity in animals. Repeated oral administration produced severe colon and caecum damage in guinea pigs. Milder effects on the lower intestine have been seen in rats, whilst the monkey, mouse, hamster, dog and pig are not as susceptible. Studies in man have not indicated a susceptibility to the gastrointestinal tract toxicity of degraded carrageenan, a type of carrageenan that has produced this type of damage in a variety of animal species. Carrageenan in the diet has been associated with increased caecal weight in rats, mice and hamsters, and with mild liver changes in rats. Long-term feeding studies in rats, mice, hamsters and monkeys have not demonstrated any convincing evidence of carcinogenicity. Chromosome damage was seen in mice fed repeated high doses and in human cells in vitro. Carrageenan gave no indication of genotoxicity in a dominant lethal study in rats, in yeast or in bacterial Ames tests. Orally administered carrageenan did not affect the reproduction of rabbits but foetotoxicity has been seen in rats, mice and hamsters. Oral and injection studies have demonstrated that small doses of carrageenan can affect the immune system of experimental animals. Limited evidence implies that it may be a weak sensitizer in man.

Date of Publication: 1987

Number of Pages: 10

CAS Number*: 11114-20-8








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