The most obvious of the global impacts of Irish Moss is the versatility and many uses of the product that is extracted from the plant, known as carrageenan. This extract has no calories, is tasteless, colourless and odorless, so it can be added to products without changing the taste or the caloric intake. It is used by producers of beverages such as beer and wine to keep the liquid clear. It is used in products such as toothpaste, and insect repellents to hold the other ingredients together and for the same reason in shampoos, water-based paints and cosmetics. The largest and best known use for Carrageenan is within the dairy industry. In fact nearly 90% of the extract on the market is consumed by this sector for use in products such as chocolate milk and pudding. The product also has the sought after property of preventing large ice crystal from forming, making it an integral ingredient in ice cream.

There are so many products that we use every day that contain this extract and the list may expand to pharmaceuticals in the near future. There has been a connection made between Irish Moss and the progress of HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. It appears that Irish Moss slows the progress of the deadly disease that plagues much of the world. As a result, there is obviously a new found interest in the small underwater plant. So far, the industry is not aware of any government initiatives to attempt to replenish the depleted moss beds off western P.E.I. Hopefully the connection will be investigated further and the impact on the Island’s industry will be positive and a way of life that is slowly slipping away will be restored on the west coast of Prince Edward Island.

Community Museums Association of Prince Edward Island.

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