Carrageenan is a natural substance derived from red seaweed (specifically various species of Eucheuma and Gigartina). It is commonly used as a thickening, stabilizing, and gelling agent in a variety of products including dairy like heavy cream, chocolate milk, and ice cream.
If you’re here, you know there has been controversy and debate about the safety of carrageenan. Some noted potential side effects include inflammation, colon cancer, bloating, irritable bowel syndrome, food allergies, and glucose intolerance (source).
It is important to note that these listed side effects are based on limited studies. Additional studies on carrageenan are needed to possibly better understand the effects of this food additive.
Chocolate Milk Brands Without carrageenan
Below you will find a list of brands that make chocolate milk without carrageenan. Since ingredients can change without notice, be sure to read the ingredients at the store before you make a purchase if avoiding carrageenan or other ingredients is important to you.
The manufacturer is required to list carrageenan in the list of ingredients so determining if a chocolate milk contains it should be a quick process for most people.
Straus Family Creamery
Straus began as a family owned dairy farm in 1941 and shifted to organic dairy in 1994. They were first certified organic dairy farm in the western part of the United States.
Straus makes organic whole chocolate milk with just four ingredients: organic cane sugar, organic Fair Trade Certified cocoa powder, organic vanilla extract, and a lactase enzyme.
The company specifically states on its website that no emulsifiers, stabilizers, or thickeners such as carrageenan are used in its chocolate milk. They do inform consumers that the milk may have some separation because of the lack of these ingredients. A bit of shaking of the bottle is all that is needed to improve the texture and consistency.
Horizon Organic is recognized for their organic milk and dairy items. The company is committed to providing products that are produced without the use of synthetic pesticides, herbicides, and genetically modified organisms (GMOs).
The brand is now owned by Danone North America, which is known in the U.S. mostly for its yogurt products. The milk produced for its dairy products is derived from more than 500 farmers across the country.
Horizon Organic chocolate milk contains no carrageenan. However, it does use gellan gum which acts similarly to carrageenan as a stabilizer or texture enhancer. According to Healthline, this ingredient is largely considered safe to eat.
Organic Valley is a cooperative of organic farmers in the United States that specializes in the production and distribution of organic dairy products. It operates as a farmer-owned cooperative, meaning that the farmers who are members of Organic Valley own the cooperative and have a say in its operations.
Organic Valley was founded in 1988 and has since grown to become one of the largest organic farmer cooperatives in the country. They make an assortment of dairy products including organic milk, butter, cheese, cream, half & half, sour cream, cream cheese, and cottage cheese.
Organic Valley makes lowfat 1% chocolate milk in a half gallon size. The milk is lactose-free and carrageenan-free but it does contain the stabilizer and thickener, gellan gum.
Clover Sonoma is a dairy company based in Sonoma County, California that is known for producing organic and conventional dairy products. They have a history dating back to 1916 when the roots of the company began bottling milk at the Petaluma Cooperative Creamery.
Clover Sonoma makes chocolate whole and 2% milk without carrageenan. The stabilizer, emulsifier, and/or thickeners in this milk are gum acacia and gellan gum.
Alexandre Family Farms
Alexandre Family Farms was started in North California in 1992. According to California State University, it is the first certified organic regenerative dairy farm in the country.
They specialize in producing A2/A2 dairy products including yogurt, cream, and milk. A2/A2 milk is produced from cows with this gene and potentially may be easier to digest. However, additional studies need to be completed to determine its true benefits.
Alexandre makes a 4% milkfat organic A2/A2 chocolate milk available in 12 and 28 ounce sizes. It’s made with organic milk, organic cane sugar, organic natural cocoa powder, and natural chocolate flavor (cacao oleoresin). There is no carrageenan in this milk.
Trader Joe’s is an American chain of grocery stores known for its eclectic selection of food and beverage products. They are also recognized for using a combination of competitive pricing and high-quality products.
Trader Joe’s makes ultra-pasteurized whole (3.25% milkfat) chocolate milk. It is made with milk, cane sugar, skim milk, cocoa powder mix (Cocoa [processed with alkali], salt, gellan gum, guar gum, natural), and vitamin D3.
GreenWise is a private label brand owned by Publix, which is a major grocery store chain in the southeastern United States. GreenWise products, including dairy items, are often associated with natural and organic ingredients, as well as environmentally friendly and sustainable practices.
Greenwise makes 2% USDA organic chocolate milk. It contains no carrageenan but it does contain gellan gum.