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In The News: Mercury In High Fructose Corn Syrup

Posted Nov 13 2009 10:00pm

Here’s some unpleasant news.

The Washington Post is reporting on two recent studies published in Environmental Health which found that “almost half of tested samples of commercial high-fructose corn syrup (HFCS) contained mercury, which was also found in nearly a third of 55 popular brand-name food and beverage products where HFCS is the first- or second-highest labeled ingredient.”

Ranges varied from 0.005 to 0.57 micrograms of mercury per gram of high fructose corn syrup.

Keep in mind that Environmental Protection Agency figures, for instance, consider 0.1 micrograms per kilogram of body weight to be the upper limit for safe intakes.

This means, then that a 140 pound adult (63.6 kilograms) should consume no more than 6.36 micrograms a day.

The problem here comes with the high amount of high fructose corn syrup consumed by the average child, teenager, and adult in the United States — 12 daily teaspoons on average.

Let’s do some math.

Twelve teaspoons of HFCS equal 48 grams.

If those 48 grams came from the sample with the highest amount of mercury, that totals 27 micrograms of mercury in a single day!

Two more things worth pointing out.

First, sodas were found not to have any mercury in them despite consisting of mainly water and high fructose corn syrup. Perhaps this is due to some processing step?

Second, controversy is arising due to rumblings that the lead author of one study allegedly alerted the Food & Drug Administration about her findings several years ago but, for reasons not known to anyone, these findings were reportedly not followed up on.

The Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy — which participated in both studies — is actively pushing for immediate changes in manufacturing that would not taint high fructose corn syrup with the infamous heavy metal.

Yet another bullet point for the ever-expanding “important issues in food safety” list…

And, more importantly, even more of a reason to limit the amount of processed, nutritionally inferior food (which is usually laden with added sugars, mainly in the form of high fructose corn syrup.)

PS: Thank you to reader Dennise O’Grady for providing me with the second link in this post.

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