For our doggies’ sakes, let’s bewareageenan of carrageenan

DSC00365 (350x263)When GreenAcres had its radio show—GreenAcres Health Talkseveral years ago, we hosted a woman by the name of Sharon Sherman who worked for Pet Guard, a company whose products we carry, and one that has been providing a natural alternative for pets’ needs since 1979.

Ms. Sherman was adamant that Pet Guard never uses carrageenan in its pet food products—no emulsifiers or gums in the all-natural preparations.  She said then, “Our pets are worthy of the same treatment we want for ourselves, and that includes proper nutrition.” At GreenAcres, we couldn’t agree more!

But if we look at even some all-natural products, we’ll see that word carrageenan pop up along with xanthan gum, cellulose gum, locust bean gum, agar, and so on. Processed food producers say carrageenan is similar to gelatin or corn starch. Well, why not use those two binders instead of carrageenan which is a seaweed extract and is scrutinized pretty carefully by the organic food industry?

The “gums” the industry talks about are chemicals which do the following:

  • They thicken things like ice cream marshmallow fluff, pancake syrup, etc., all benefit from thickening.
  • They emulsify things: They help liquids to stay mixed together without separating.
  • They change the texture: Generally, a gum will make something thicker or chewier.
  • They stabilize crystals: A gum might help prevent sugar or ice from crystallizing.

The processed food industry uses these things frequently. It’s to preserve the state of food as it travels across country from hot to cold climates and vice versus, or sits on grocery store shelves for an indeterminate amount of time. Ice cream can melt; cookies can go stale; liquids and cheese can separate. You get the picture.

Still, carrageenan and other chemicals like it are not getting the red light in the organic foods category. In fact, red flags continue to go up. New Hope 360, a watchdog consumer blog, had this to say several years ago: The Organic Consumers Association (OCA) urged the USDA National Organic Program (NOP) to ban the use of carrageenan in all organic products. The controversial emulsifier, made from seaweed, is a common food additive and has been allowed in organic foods. Some research, however, has suggested the stuff causes gastroinstestinal inflammation and higher rates of colon cancer, according to the OCA.

“Under NOP rules, carrageenan’s approval is scheduled to expire, or sunset. The NOP is recommending another five years of approval for the ingredient. The action is inflaming the folks at OCA and at the Cornucopia Institute, who have been warning the public about carrageenan for years.

“‘Carrageenan should not be allowed in infant formula or any other organic food,’ said Ronnie Cummins, National Director of the OCA. ‘And we can’t allow the organic program to be constrained by the opinions of the FDA on food safety. After all, this is the agency that insists it’s okey to eat olestra, saccharin, trans fats, aspartame, MSG, nitrates and parabens.’”

Pretty direct, we’d say! It’s something to be aware of and to consider.

We at GreenAcres continue to do our research regarding all kinds of ingredients once considered safe, but now considered suspect. Our mission is first and foremost to educate both ourselves and you. Let’s continue to keep on top of legislation about additives, GMOs and any other food caveats that might interfere with excellent nutrition.

We can’t have corporations, lobbyists with deep pockets or poorly-informed decisions of the government fooling with our food sources. Together, we can make our own educated choices based on research and facts, and fight back through letters to our Congressmen and by exercising our duty and privilege to vote when we think we’re being taken advantage of. Good health is everything, and certainly it reflects life worth living for us and our pets.

mm-best (400x356)With summer just around the corner, and Midwest heat being what it usually is, Matt and his precious dog Moe  (pictured at right) encourages us all to be extra vigilant of the health and comfort of our pets. Pet Guard suggests the following:

  • Never leave an animal in a closed car, even if the window is rolled down slightly. Many people believe that the animal can get fresh air, but a strong sun can quickly raise the inside temperature to over 120 degrees, creating heatstroke conditions. If you park in the shade, remember the car is stationary but the sun moves, and sunrays on a windshield can magnify the temperature inside the vehicle quickly.
  • Exercise your pet in the cooler morning or evening hours. Remember that they are closer to street level than you are, so avoid walking when the sun has heated the concrete or asphalt. Your pet will feel the reflected heat more than you will and a hot street surface could burn your companion’s paw pads.
  • Avoid taking any animal to the beach or park where there is limited shade.
  • Especially in the summertime, make sure your pets have plenty of fresh water.
  • Around the house, make sure there are areas of shade during the day. In particularly hot areas of the country, it would be wise to bring the animal indoors during the hottest parts of the day.
  • Remember that many snub-nosed dogs ( bulldogs and Pekingese, etc.), older and overweight pets may have difficulty regulating body temperature. It is very important that they are as comfortable as possible on hot days.
  • Radiator coolant is often deadly and yet attractive to some animals. Make sure you avoid puddles of coolant overflows on your drive or on the street and keep your companion away from them. Also, the discharge water from air conditioning systems may contain minute traces of chemicals harmful to your pets.
  • A timely shampoo and bath is as refreshing to your pet as it is to us humans! During the summer, bathing and grooming your pet not only is refreshing but will permit you to check for those summertime fleas and ticks.

We’d also like to caution those who carry pets in the flat beds of their trucks. Those metal truck floors get hot as blazes when the temps climb and the sun beats down on them. Dogs can get dehydrated quickly and the hot metal can burn their paws. It’s natural for a pet to want to go with its master, but you be the master of common sense. When you’re riding in air conditioning, remember your pet isn’t when it’s in the back of an open truck.