The Unexpected Ingredient You're Likely To Find In Chocolate Milk

Chocolate milk is a kid favorite, and according to U.S. Dairy, it is just as good of an option for the kiddos as plain, old white milk. Of course, the dairy experts concede it does add a bit of sugar to the daily intake, but in the grand scheme of nutrition, it still delivers the 13 essential nutrients found in white milk, and kids like to drink it. 

While an Irish botanist by the name of Sir Hans Sloane is often credited with creating this creamy, chocolatey drink, per Smithsonian Magazine, that's more legend than truth. The outlet explains that Jamaicans were brewing "a hot beverage brewed from shavings of freshly harvested cacao, boiled with milk and cinnamon" dating back to the 1490s. But regardless of who came up with the concept of chocolate milk, we love to drink it.

Of course, it is rather interesting that some people think chocolate milk comes from brown cows. The Washington Post shares that in a 2017 survey, 7% of American adults were guilty of this false assumption. But if you are among that minority, as Parade reports, chocolate milk is generally made by mixing white milk with either a chocolate syrup, chocolate powder like Nesquik, or cocoa and sugar to create this drink. But if you are buying pre-made chocolate milk by the pint, gallon, or half gallon, you might be surprised to learn it has an unexpected ingredient in it that some people have labeled as "controversial." 

This ingredient is banned from use in baby formula in the European Union

According to Cargill, chocolate milk contains carrageenan. What is carrageenan? The site goes on to explain carrageenan is a powder derived from red seaweed. Kitchen Instincts shares carrageenan is also found in foods like ice cream, cottage cheese, creamers, and even puddings. When it comes to chocolate milk, carrageenan ensures the chocolate powder used to make your chocolate milk doesn't separate. While this additive is approved for use in many foods and drinks made in the United States, some people and scientists believe it doesn't belong in anything that goes into our mouths, especially those who drink organic chocolate milk.

Per Penn State, carrageenan is not allowed in baby formula in the European Union. Why? The academic institution shares that carrageenan has been linked to "inflammation and digestive problems such as bloating and irritable bowel disease." But Penn State has a solution: Researchers used what they described as a "high-pressure jet technology" with fat-free milk and were able to create a chocolate milk that did not separate and remained smooth. 

If you want to avoid carrageenan in your chocolate milk, Kitchen Instincts recommends several brands that do not contain this ingredient including Greenwise, Horizon, and Organic Valley.