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Carrageenan and guar gum

post #1 of 11
Thread Starter 
What do you guys think of carrageenan and guar gum in canned food?
Many articles say that it could cause intestinal inflammation or ulcer in some animals. Most brands have these as thickener in their cans. Would you avoid cans that contain these? Or do you think these still have some benefits?
post #2 of 11
I doubt they have any benefits other than to thicken the food but I have never heard of anything bad about them and since they are used by most of the brands I trust, I don't worry about them.
post #3 of 11
A google search will produce several sites that talk about the negatives of both these ingredients. Here are a two:

What’s this ingredient in my pet’s food? Carrageenan? from

In “Review of harmful gastrointestinal effects of carrageenan in animal experiments†By J. K. Tobacman from the College of Medicine, University of Iowa, carrageenan doesn’t get a very good (safe) review. “Review of these data demonstrated that exposure to undegraded as well as to degraded carrageenan was associated with the occurrence of intestinal ulcerations and neoplasms.†In 1972 the FDA “considered restricting dietary carrageenan …this resolution did not prevail, and no subsequent regulation has restricted use.†In 1982 the International Agency for Research on Cancer identified “sufficient evidence for the carcinogenicity of degraded carrageenan in animals to regard it as posing a carcinogenic risk to humans.â€

From the International Agency for Research on Cancer, carrageenan is rated “2B: Possibly carcinogenic to humansâ€. Fibre Content from

Carrageenan: If you or your pet has problems with acid reflux, you can bet the chances are you have carrageenan somewhere in the ingredient lists of the foods you eat. Acid reflux could happen if your cat throws up clear liquid or anything more concrete without a lot of heaving before it is expelled from the mouth. There were online resources on this a few years ago, that seem to be absent at the moment, but I am researching to find more. The big concern here, to my mind, is that with repeated exposure to acid reflux, the esophagus becomes vulnerable to disease because the tissues are weakened. There are definite online resources regarding the coating of the stomach by carrageenan, and this reference also looks into other serious problems for humans, and in particular, infants. A good site showing scientific concern around feeding carrageenan to pets is at Review of Harmful Gastrointestinal Effects of Carrageenan in Animal Experiments. You may find the information helpful to members of your human family as well. When reading through the above site, I noticed that IBS is also being attributed to the inclusion of carrageenan in pet foods, which is new for me. Carrageenan Induces Interleukin-8 Production through Distinct Bcl10 Pathway in Normal Human Colonic Epithelial Cells does tend to confirm this for humans, too. This study was just reinforced with information published in March 2008, Carrageenan Induces Cell Cycle Arrest in Human Intestinal Epithelial Cells in Vitro1. There is also a study regarding the effect upon mammary cancer, just to name a few cautions here.

Guar Gum: The use of guar gum in canned foods has been shown to reduce the bioavailability of proteins, as in the following study: "Guar gum, a soluble nonstarch polysaccharide (NSP), is a common ingredient in canned cat foods and has been shown to decrease the digestibility of protein in diets for cats (Harper and Siever-Kelly, 1997).

However, these ingredients are pretty ubiquitous in canned pet food products, as they are fairly cheap, easy to use thickeners that allow the pet food industry to create products with "meat analog chunks" (their words, not mine Ways to reduce costs in wet petfood); trying to avoid them is not really worth the effort, as there are very few - if any - canned food products that don't contain these or other "questionable" ingredients.

If you really want simple, healthy-for-the-cat foods, Space1101 (which your last few posts would seem to indicate), I'd advise you to investigate commercial raw products like Nature's Variety Instinct, Feline's Pride and Rad Cat. Because these raw foods are minimally processed and immediately frozen, minimal supplementation is needed and no palatability, texture and / or visual "improvement" substances are added.

Whether it's because canned products contain too many additives, not enough supplementation to off-set the processing they undergo, or a combination of both, the difference in the health and energy of a canned fed (even "top-of-the-line" canned fed) cat and a raw fed cat is off the charts noticeable barely a week after making the switch.

I've seen it over and over myself, but you can also review for supporting information and links.


post #4 of 11
Thread Starter 
Thanks AC. According to these articles, it seems carreegenan and guar gum are evil stuffs.

My cats are currently on half commercial raw, half canned. I really want to switch them to complete raw, but I notice they aren't very happy about having commercial raw for every meal, especially the older guy. If I try, he would just stare at his bowl for ages, looking as if I had been bad to him.
post #5 of 11
Originally Posted by space1101 View Post
Thanks AC. According to these articles, it seems carreegenan and guar gum are evil stuffs.

My cats are currently on half commercial raw, half canned. I really want to switch them to complete raw, but I notice they aren't very happy about having commercial raw for every meal, especially the older guy. If I try, he would just stare at his bowl for ages, looking as if I had been bad to him.
Rotating raw foods has all the same benefits as rotating canned, including the prevention of boredom.

You can also use all the usual transition enticements: drip a bit of tuna juice over the raw foods (sparingly), or sprinkle catnip, Parmesan Cheese, Forti Flora flakes, fish food flakes (weird, but it works), or some crumbled up freeze-dried meat treats (Whole Life's chicken works wonderfully on my kitties and I use it several times a week on one cat or another) over the foods.

In addition, it might be helpful to mix in a teaspoon of warm water. Raw foods are very fresh and don't have a lot of odor; commercial-fed cats often have a tough time recognizing it as food. The warm water will make it more palatable by more closely mimicking the consistency of canned and will release additional odors, making it a bit more enticing.

post #6 of 11
Very safe natural commonplace ingredients used for decades in cat food (including premiums), and for thousands of years in human food. Its extracted from red sea weed, and I'm positive you eat it from time to time if you check your food labels in your kitchen. As is typical on the internet where there are alarmists about any kind of "weird sounding" ingredient and studies that show that just about everything supposedly causes cancer (if they don't show a result from a study, they won't get funding), find more than one source as degraded carrageenan, aka poligeenan, is in no shape or form the same thing and so concerns of the latter are of no concern to you unless you specifically see that on the label. Its also of note to take into consideration how far down in the ingredients list you find these.

Honestly, you can kick back and relax and enjoy your time with your cats, as if you stick with good quality brands your kitties will live a long and healthy life, contrary to what some of the doom and gloom sites may try to scare you into believing leading some to pull their hair out trying to figure out what the heck they ARE allowed to feed, heh.
post #7 of 11
Ziwipeak is one of the highest quality commercial canned foods there is for cats. Here is their FAQ on carageenan: (Scroll down the page for the info).
post #8 of 11
Thread Starter 
THanks guys, that's a relief. Maybe because of the food allergy (to wellness canned) that happened just a few months ago, I started reading labels more carefully and got suspicious easily. Ok, I guess there is no need to worry about carreegenan.
post #9 of 11
Just an FYI, I could be wrong but I think carageenan and guar gum are used as fat substitutes in human foods. If you look at the labels of low fat salad dressing or some yogurts, there they are on the ingredient list. I think there are probably worse things though.
post #10 of 11
Not a fat substitute per se, but perhaps fat free products would be more runny/watery if they didn't had a gelling/thickening agent.
post #11 of 11

My cat has diarrhea and gas with either substance (as well as some other ingredients). Even certain brands of Wellness do this....which is pretty expensive and "high quality". My cat can only tolerate limited ingredient food like Nature's Variety Instinct Limited Formula. If your cat has no gastro upset, it's probably OK. But vet's were unhelpful on her condition, and what products to avoid... so after trial and error, I realized what her issue was. 

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