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WhiteWave Foods to Remove Questionable Ingredient from Milk Products

Update Date: Aug 23, 2014 11:18 AM EDT

Over the past few years, food-manufacturing companies and fast food chains have been removing certain ingredients that have raised concerns. For example, the popular sandwich chain, Subway, has stopped using azodicarbonamide in their bread. Now, some of the companies that make different kinds of organic milk have started removing an ingredient called carrageenan.

The first company that vowed to remove the ingredient was Stonyfield Organic, who made their announcement last year. A year later, WhiteWave Foods has followed in in its footsteps. WhiteWave Foods, which produces the brands, Silk and Horizon Organic, stated this past Friday that it will also remove carrageenan. The company will start phasing out the ingredient from Silk soy milk products first. WhiteWave Foods will then remove the ingredient from its coconut milk and its Horizon line of flavored organic milk products.

"Many of our conversations have focused on the use of carrageenan," WhiteWave's blog by Sara Loveday, spokeswoman for the company, wrote in a post. "Even though it is safe, our consumers have told us they want products without it."

Loveday added, according to TIME, "We get a lot of questions. It's definitely been a consistent area of concern for a few years."

Carrageenan, which is a purified extract taken from red seaweed, is used in several packaged products, such as ice cream, sauces and processed meats. In these products, the ingredient helps stabilize them by making them thicker. For companies producing organic and natural products, carrageenan replaces their need for gelatin.

So far there has been no evidence that the ingredient is dangerous to consume in humans. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and the World Health Organization (WHO) all stated that the ingredient is safe to use. People who are concerned about the ingredient cited animal studies that tied carrageenan to gastrointestinal inflammation and ulcers.

Loveday concluded, "Even though it is safe, our consumers have told us they want products without it."

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