The use of high fructose corn syrup has skyrocketed over the past few decades. It not only is a food item that should be avoided because of its tendency to cause blood sugar issues, which can contribute to diabetes and heart disease, now we find out many versions of HFCS are contaminated with mercury. Mercury we know is a neurotoxin that even in very small amounts is a contributor to nerve cell damage and even death. The best advice is eliminate HFCS from you and your child's diet. Once you start looking for this ingredient in the food items you buy, and avoid it, you will immediately improve the quality of food purchased and your family will be healthier overall - Dr. Woeller
Minneapolis – Mercury was found in nearly 50 percent of tested samples of commercial high fructose corn syrup (HFCS), according to a new article published today in the
scientific journal, Environmental Health. A separate study by the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy (IATP) detected mercury in nearly one-third of 55 popular brand name food and beverage products where HFCS is the first or second highest labeled ingredient—including products by Quaker, Hershey’s, Kraft and Smucker’s.
HFCS use has skyrocketed in recent decades as the sweetener has replaced sugar in
many processed foods. HFCS is found in sweetened beverages, breads, cereals, breakfast bars, lunch meats, yogurts, soups and condiments. On average, Americans consume about 12 teaspoons per day of HFCS. Consumption by teenagers and other high
consumers can be up to 80 percent above average levels. “Mercury is toxic in all its forms,” said IATP’s David Wallinga, M.D., and a co-author in both studies. “Given how much high fructose corn syrup is consumed by children, it could be a significant additional source of mercury never before considered. We are calling for immediate changes by industry and the FDA to help stop this avoidable mercury contamination of the food supply.”
In the Environmental Health article, Dufault et al. found detectable levels of mercury in nine of 20 samples of commercial HFCS. Dufault was working at the U.S. Food and Drug Administration when the tests were done in 2005. She and co-authors conclude that possible mercury contamination of food chemicals like HFCS was not common knowledge within the food industry that frequently uses the sweetener. While the FDA had evidence that commercial HFCS was contaminated with mercury four years ago, the agency did not inform consumers, help change industry practice or conduct additional testing.
For its report “Not So Sweet: Missing Mercury and High Fructose Corn Syrup,” IATP
sent 55 brand-name foods and beverages containing HFCS as the first or second ingredient to a commercial laboratory to be tested for total mercury. Nearly one in three products tested contained detectable mercury. Mercury was most prevalent in HFCS containing dairy products, followed by dressings and condiments.
In making HFCS, caustic soda is used, among other things, to separate corn starch
from the corn kernel. For decades, HFCS has been made using mercury-grade caustic
soda produced in industrial chlorine (chlor-alkali) plants. The use of mercury cells to produce caustic soda can contaminate caustic soda, and ultimately HFCS, with mercury. “The bad news is that nobody knows whether or not their soda or snack food contains HFCS made from ingredients like caustic soda contaminated with mercury,” said Dr. Wallinga. “The good news is that mercury-free HFCS ingredients exist. Food companies just need a good push to only use those ingredients.”