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Name:  Carrageenan

Synonyms:  Aquagel; Gum carrageenan

CAS Registry Number:9000-07-1

EINECS:  232-524-2

Carrageenans or carrageenins are a family of linear sulphated polysaccharides extracted from red seaweeds. The name is derived from a type of seaweed that is abundant along the Irish coastline. Gelatinous extracts of the Chondrus crispus seaweed have been used as food additives for hundreds of years, though analysis of carrageenan safety as an additive continues.

Carrageenans are large, highly flexible molecules which curl forming helical structures. This gives them the ability to form a variety of different gels at room temperature. They are widely used in the food and other industries as thickening and stabilizing agents. A particular advantage is that they are pseudoplastic—they thin under shear stress and recover their viscosity once the stress is removed. This means that they are easy to pump but stiffen again afterwards.

All carrageenans are high molecular weight polysaccharides made up of repeating galactose units and 3,6 anhydrogalactose (3,6-AG), both sulfated and nonsulfated. The units are joined by alternating alpha 1-3 and beta 1-4 glycosidic linkages.

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