Foods that contain derivatives of algae include ice cream, milk, syrup, icing, fruit juice, salad dressing, whipped topping, milk shakes, cheese topping, flan and custard. Brown algae, or alginates, are kelp products used to thicken, suspend, stabilize and emulsify various foods. Red algae, or carrageenan, stabilize and gel foods, cosmetics and pharmaceuticals.
About half the alginates produced on Earth go towards making ice cream and dairy products. The rest goes for rubber, paint and shave cream. This type of algae thickens dye for sharper colors. Dentists use alginate to make molds of teeth.
Carrageenan thickens dairy products and gives low-fat foods a fuller taste. The essential task of carrageenan is to keep fluids fully mixed in containers. Prevention magazine states manufacturers can reduce carrageenan by adding "shake well" to labels.
Green algae is used primarily as a food coloring. This kind of kelp is rich in beta carotene due to chlorophyll in the plant. There are more than 4,000 species of green algae, most of which grow in shallow parts of the ocean.
The Cornucopia Institute and Prevention both advocate buying foods without carrageenan because this type of algae may cause gastrointestinal distress. Prevention states carrageenan may cause an immune reaction similar to salmonella poisoning.