Study Finds High-Fructose Corn Syrup Contains Mercury

A recent study just released found almost half of tested samples of commercial high-fructose corn syrup (HFCS) contained mercury. They also found mercury in nearly a third of 55 popular brand-name food and beverage products where HFCS is the first or second highest labeled ingredient, according to two new U.S. studies.

High-fructose corn syrup has replaced sugar as the sweetener in many beverages and foods such as breads, cereals, breakfast bars, lunch meats, yogurts, soups and condiments because it is very cheap to produce in large amounts. It is estimated that Americans consume about 12 teaspoons of HFCS per day! Teens and other high consumers could take in 80 percent more HFCS than average!

Because mercury is so toxic, this could be a significant additional source of mercury never before considered. "We are calling for immediate changes by industry and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to help stop this avoidable mercury contamination of the food supply," the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy's Dr. David Wallinga, a co-author of both studies, said in a prepared statement.

An organization representing the refiners is disputing the results. "This study appears to be based on outdated information of dubious significance," said Audrae Erickson, president of the Corn Refiners Association, in a statement. "Our industry has used mercury-free versions of the two re-agents mentioned in the study, hydrochloric acid and caustic soda, for several years. However, the IATP found that four plants in Georgia, Tennessee, Ohio and West Virginia still use "mercury-cell" technology that can lead to contamination.

"The bad news is that nobody knows whether or not their soda or snack food contains HFCS made from ingredients contaminated with mercury. The good news is that mercury-free HFCS ingredients do exist. Food companies just need a good push to only use those ingredients," Wallinga said in his prepared statement.

Read your labels and try to avoid all products containing HFCS!

The U.S. Agency for Toxic Substances & Disease Registry has more about mercury and health.

SOURCE: Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy, news release, Jan. 26, 2009

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