US reinstates imports of Philippines seaweed products

Louise Maureen Simeon - The Philippine Star
US reinstates imports of Philippines seaweed products

MANILA, Philippines — The Philippines will continue to export seaweed products to the American market after the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) reinstated carrageenan in the list of allowed ingredients in organic food.

The announcement was made in the 2018 Sunset Review of the USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) which found merit in public comments supporting the renewal of carrageenan in the national list of allowed substances of the USDA.

The Department of Agriculture (DA) refuted the health and environment-related assertions  by the National Organic Coalition (NOC) against carrageenan and argued that the substance was an irreplaceable, allowable ingredient.

DA justified that the coalition’s claims are based on inconclusive scientific arguments and are mere extrapolations of findings derived from flawed research and misinformed perceptions of the state of seaweed production in the country.

“The decision will surely benefit the lives of some three million seaweed farmers in the ASEAN region and will further promote trade in carrageenan from among ASEAN member states,” Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel Piñol said.

The Philippines exported $28.1 million worth of carrageenan to the US last year.

It is the world’s biggest exporter of carrageenan, an input in meat processing, processed food, dairy products, condiments, personal care products, and pet food products.

According to industry experts, approximately 70 percent of the global demand for carrageenan is for food consumption.

The product is also used as an ingredient in air freshener, oral care, pharmaceutical products, biotechnology research, and other industrial consumer product applications.

It is used in a variety of commercial applications such as gelling, thickening and stabilizing agents, especially in food products.

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