Carrageenan is an important chemical that is extracted from types of red seaweed. It is used extensively in the food industry as a gelling agent. High-quality carrageenans are produced by this native species, Gigartina atropurpurea. It forms wide leafy blades up to 50 centimetres long and is common on intertidal rocks all around the North Island, northern South Island and Chatham Islands.
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