E 407 Carrageenan – EU specification

COMMISSION REGULATION (EU) No 231/2012 of 9 March 2012


Products of commerce are sold under different names such as: Irish moss gelose; Eucheuman (from Eucheuma spp.); Iridophycan (from Iridaea spp.); Hypnean (from Hypnea spp.); Furcellaran or Danish agar (from Furcellaria fastigiata); Carrageenan (from Chondrus and Gigartina spp.)


Carrageenan is obtained by extraction with water or dilute aqueous alkali of strains of seaweeds of Gigartinaceae, Solieriaceae, Hypneaceae and Furcellariaceae, families of the class Rhodophyceae (red seaweeds). Carrageenan consists chiefly of the  potassium, sodium, magnesium and calcium sulphate esters of galactose and 3,6-anhydrogalactose polysacharide. These hexoses are alternately linked α-1,3 and β-1,4 in the copolymer. The prevalent polysaccharides in carrageenan are designated as kappa, iota, lambda depending on the number of sulphate by repeating unit (i.e. 1,2,3 sulphate). Between kappa and iota there is a continuum of

intermediate compositions differing in number of sulphates per repeat units between 1 and 2. During the process, no organic precipitant shall be used other than methanol, ethanol and propan-2-ol. The wording carrageenan is reserved for the non hydrolysed or otherwise chemically degraded polymer. Formaldehyde may be present as an adventitious impurity up to a maximum of 5 mg/kg.

Einecs: 232-524-2

Chemical name: Sulphate esters of polygalactose

Chemical formula:

Molecular weight:



Yellowish to colourless, coarse to fine powder which is practically



Test for galactose: Passes test

Test for anhydrogalactose: Passes test

Test for sulphate: Passes test

Solubility: Soluble in hot water; insoluble in alcohol for a 1,5 % dilution


Solvent residues: Not more than 0,1 % of methanol, ethanol, propan-2-ol, singly or in combination

Viscosity: Not less than 5 mPa.s (1,5 % solution at 75 °C)

Loss on drying: Not more than 12 % (105 °C, 4 hours)

Sulphates: Not less than 15 % and not more than 40 % on the dried basis (as SO 4 )

Ash: Not less than 15 % and not more than 40 % determined on the dried basis at 550 °C

Acid-insoluble ash: Not more than 1 % on the dried basis (insoluble in 10 % hydrochloric acid)

Acid-insoluble matter: Not more than 2 % on the dried basis (insoluble in 1 % v/v sulphuric acid)

Low molecular weight carrageenan (Molecular weight fraction below 50 kDa): Not more than 5 %

Arsenic: Not more than 3 mg/kg

Lead: Not more than 5 mg/kg

Mercury: Not more than 1 mg/kg

Cadmium: Not more than 2 mg/kg

Microbiological criteria

Total plate count: Not more than 5 000 colonies per gram

Yeast and moulds: Not more than 300 colonies per gram

Escherichia coli: Absent in 5 g

Salmonella spp.: Absent in 10 g