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Why is Carrageenan Important?
With more than 7 billion people to feed in the world, it is more important than ever that we have a reliable, safe global food supply. Carrageenan is a food ingredient that helps to contribute to foods and beverages that are nutritious and affordable for consumers, can travel distances safely and arrive intact and allow people all over the world to have access to and enjoy the foods they have come to love.
While just a food ingredient that replaces sugar and fat and adds texture, carrageenan can be viewed as one of many hydrocolloids that have some impact on the future of our food supply.
Hunger is a persistent problem affecting the global community, particularly in third world countries.
According to the FAO’s report on food insecurity, “The latest available estimates indicate that about 795 million people in the world—just over one in nine—were undernourished in 2014-16.”
With almost 10 percent of the world’s people not having access to the foods they need, it’s important we’re able to deliver healthful meals to those in remote areas. Carrageenan is used to maintain the integrity of shelf-stable foods and beverages. These products are then able to travel greater distances, often without the need for refrigeration, and arrive intact and nutritious to those that wouldn’t otherwise have access to them.
Especially in developing countries and those in drought-prone areas, access to safe, clean water is not always reliable.
“More than 30 countries have been involved in ‘water wars’ and 145 countries share lakes and river basins, the use of which is governed by more than 300 cooperative agreements between nations. In Africa, a quarter of the population already lives with chronic water stress and water is increasingly being seen as a source of potential conflict between nations eager to secure their future harvests (ref 16).”
In environments with inconsistent water supplies, many times it’s the most vulnerable that are most affected. In applications like liquid infant formula, carrageenan is an essential ingredient in delivering nutrient-dense, safe formula that can be consumed without the need for additional water as with powdered options.
Food prices are rising. Carrageenan is approved for use in organic food applications. As it is more cost-efficient than alternative ingredients, food manufactures are able to make organic products more affordable, and therefore, more available.
Since July 2010, prices of many crops have risen dramatically. Prices of maize increased 74%; wheat went up by 84%; sugar by 77% and oils and fats by 57%. Rice prices fortunately remain fairly stable with prices in December 2010 less than 4% higher than the previous year; meat and dairy also remained stable, but at high levels. The UN Food and Agriculture Organization said its food price index was up 3.4% from December, marking the highest level since the organization started measuring food prices in 1990.
Food insecurity is a global issue, but with ingredients like carrageenan, we can help to deliver products that are healthful, nutritious and safe to people in even the most remote locations. It’s not only critical that we continue to include carrageenan in our foods and drinks, it’s imperative that we understand what its use means to millions of people around the world—that they can wake up knowing they’ll go to sleep on a full stomach.
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My god, White Island volcano in New Zealand erupted today for first time since 2001. My family and I had gotten off it 20 minutes before, were waiting at our boat about to leave when we saw it. Boat ride home tending to people our boat rescued was indescribable. #whiteisland pic.twitter.com/QJwWi12Tvt— Michael Schade (@sch) December 9, 2019
Michael Schade / Twitter
At the time of the eruption on Monday, about 50 passengers from the Ovation of Seas were on the island, including more than 30 who were part of a Royal Caribbean cruise trip, according to CNN. Twenty-three people, including the five dead, were evacuated from the island.
The eruption occurred at 2:11 pm local time on Monday, as footage from a crater camera owned and operated by GeoNet, New Zealand's geological hazards agency, shows. The camera also shows dozens of people walking near the rim as white smoke billows just before the eruption, according to Reuters.
Police were unable to reach the island because searing white ash posed imminent danger to rescue workers, said John Tims, New Zealand's deputy police commissioner, as he stood next to Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern in a press conference, as The New York Times reported. Tims said rescue workers would assess the safety of approaching the island on Tuesday morning. "We know the urgency to go back to the island," he told reporters.
"The physical environment is unsafe for us to return to the island," Tims added, as CNN reported. "It's important that we consider the health and safety of rescuers, so we're taking advice from experts going forward."
Authorities have had no communication with anyone on the island. They are frantically working to identify how many people remain and who they are, according to CNN.
Geologists said the eruption is not unexpected and some questioned why the island is open to tourism.
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"White Island has been a disaster waiting to happen for many years," said Raymond Cas, emeritus professor at Monash University's school of earth, atmosphere and environment, as The Guardian reported. "Having visited it twice, I have always felt that it was too dangerous to allow the daily tour groups that visit the uninhabited island volcano by boat and helicopter."
The prime minister arrived Monday night in Whakatane, the town closest to the eruption, where day boats visiting the island are docked. Whakatane has a large Maori population.
Ardern met with local council leaders on Monday. She is scheduled to meet with search and rescue teams and will speak to the media at 7 a.m. local time (1 p.m. EST), after drones survey the island, as CNN reported.
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