I Have A Food Allergy

humphry slocombe hong kong milk tea ice cream

Words I never thought I’d say: I have a carrageenan allergy. After seeing an allergist for a year, buying Bendaryl by the case, a few used Epi-Pens, and one trip to the ER, I finally have a diagnosis. I am allergic to carrageenan, a seaweed derived ingredient used in all sorts of packaged foods. I’m glad to finally have an answer to my sporadic allergic reactions (anaphylaxis) to foods I’ve eaten my whole life with seemingly zero common denominator.

Unfortunately, this now means I have to change my grocery shopping and eating habits tremendously. Carrageenan is used as a stabilizer, sweetener, and gelling agent in all kinds of foods, including “healthy” packaged foods you find at Whole Foods and Trader Joe’s. Generally speaking, you may find it in dairy and dairy-free products such as cream cheese, coffee creamer, and ice creams. It’s an extremely rare food allergy to have, so I’m hoping this post can be a resource for anyone trying to avoid this sneaky natural additive.

carrageennan in trader joe's cottage cheese

Here are some of the brands and foods which contain carrageenan that I’m avoiding.

  • Protein Bars: Pure Protein (what I initially had a reaction to)
  • Soy Milk: Silk, Kirkland, Pacific Foods
  • Almond Milk: Pacific Foods, Trader Joe’s
  • Coffee Creamer: Nestle Coffee Mate, International Delight, Silk, So Delicious (not something I drink anyway)
  • Cottage Cheese: Trader Joe’s (not something I eat anyway)
  • Sour Cream: Lucerne
  • Ice Cream: Ben & Jerry’s, Baskin-Robbins, So Delicious, Magnum
  • Coffee Shops: whipped cream at Starbucks, soy milk at Starbucks, coconut milk at Starbucks, almond milk at Peet’s

Here are the brands and substitutions I will be using moving forward.

  • Protein Bars: Quest, Amazing Grass, Think Thin
  • Soy Milk: West Soy
  • Almond Milk: Califia Farms, Almond Breeze, Three Trees
  • Sour Cream: Daisy, Knudsen, Clover
  • Ice Cream: Three Twins, Humphry Slocombe, Häagen-Dazs
  • Coffee Shops: Four Barrel, Sightglass, The Mill, Verve, Craftsman and Wolves (all serve Califia Farms almond milk)

It’s always a good idea to look at the ingredient labels to get the most updated information, just in case any of these brands switch things up.

I’ve always been very sympathetic to those with severe food allergies and sensitivities. I’m working hard on making it a habit to pick up label before I pick up the fork to ensure what I’m eating is allergen-free. Have you ever heard of carrageenan or do you struggle with food allergies? I would love to hear your story in a comment below. Thanks for reading!

  • Candy Kage

    This is the reason why we grow such a big garden, raise our own meat and process and make everything we can from scratch.

    • That is the dream! Not really a possibility in downtown SF where I live, but you are so lucky to have that!

  • Yes there is so much crap in everything! I have heard of this ingredient before, but I thought it was a coloring agent. (shows what I know! ha!) I am glad you figured out what was causing your allergy.

    • It’s a sneaky one! Seems to be in a lot of foods… I recently read some brewers even use it in the beer brewing process.

  • I’m sorry to hear you have an allergy, but glad you figured it out! Crazy how many ingredients are in what we eat and we don’t even know!

    • it’s so true! So many sneaky things in our foods.

  • randa hamad

    i am really sorry for what i hear…may God protect you 🙂

  • Sorry to hear you’ve been going through this, bu good to hear that you have a diagnosis now and know what allergy you have. It’s crazy what fillers can be in so many different foods.

    • I was shocked how many different foods it can be in! It can even be used in the beer brewing process and it would never be listed on the label.