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high fructose corn syrup + mercury.

January 30

new studies show high fructose corn syrup contains mercury: largest food product recall ever?

there was a report issued by the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy (IATP) on January 26th, which states that one-third of the 55 food and beverage products tested contained mercury. a similar conclusion was reached in the journal Environmental Health, the research showed that approximately 50 percent of the products tested contained mercury. in case you don’t understand the gravity of these findings, here’s a fact to put it in perspective: 20 percent of american children’s daily calories come from high fructose corn syrup . [Michael Pollan also has a great statistic of how many products in the average grocery store contain hfcs.. i don’t have a copy of the book, so i’m trying to find the stat to share]

“High fructose corn syrup offers numerous benefits. It keeps food fresh, enhances fruit and spice flavors, retains moisture in bran cereals, helps keep breakfast and energy bars moist, maintains consistent flavors in beverages and keeps ingredients evenly dispersed in condiments.”

[the corn refiners association site, a lobbyist group comprised of executives of wet milling companies, one of the initial corn processing steps.]


perhaps one of the worst part of this story is that evidence shows that the FDA knew about this for quite some time before releasing a report or statement. the FDAs Environmental Health study was conducted in 2005 and had concluded that mercury was in the food supply, but never published the report, until it’s leader retired and went public with the knowledge.

“In 2005, EH study lead author Renee Dufault was an FDA researcher. At that time, she conducted the tests now cited in the EH report. Her results found mercury in 9 of 20 HFCS samples — 45 percent.

She doesn’t comment on why, but the FDA apparently did nothing with her results in the years since they emerged. She retired from the agency in March 2008 — and evidently decided to go public. She deserves praise for the decision to publish her work — essentially blowing the whistle on what looks like an egregious attempt to hide key information from the public.”

Tom Philpot,


another issue here is the fact that a majority of the food in our grocery stores contain some sort of product which results from this production and processing chain. meaning, a majority of the food in our grocery stores are proven to have mercury in them. will this finally be a wake up call for us to shift away from the processed sweetener? something that has long been linked to the rising obesity rates in the united states. in daily life, high fructose corn syrup can be difficult to avoid, it is found in everything from beverages, breads, cereals, lunch meats, soups, condiments and many more.

“On average, americans consume about 12 teaspons per day of HFCS. Consumption by teenages and other high consumers can be up to 80 percent above average levels.”

Insitute for Agriculture and Trade Policy report


“Given how much high fructose corn syrup is consumed by children, it could be a significant additional source of mercury never before considered.”

David Walliinga, M.D. from the IATP

this is huge news in terms of politics and food, who have long been tied together in america.  corn has by far the most highly subsidized food product in the united states since 1970s, when scientists found they could process corn to make a combination of the fructose and glucose from corn as a substitute for the sucrose contained in sugar.


today, glucose is the most profitable food product refined from corn, thanks in part to other products produced along it’s production chain: alcohols (including ehtanol), maltose, plastics, maltodextrin etc.  with all of these products having the ability to be produced domestically, it is no wonder the corn lobby and government in washington are heavily tied, they have the ability to ‘boost the american economy’ and ‘solve the gas crisis’ by making fuel on our own shores from corn.  the problem with ethanol is the fact that the land to produce it might be better used to provide food for people rather than fuel their vehicles.

“While the surgeon general is raising alarms over the epidemic of obesity, the president is signing farm bills design to keep the river of cheap corn flowing, guaranteeing that the cheapest calories in the supermarket will continue to be the unhealthiest.”

The Omnivore’s Dilemma by Michael Pollan


i realize this is a long post, but i just think it is extremely important that everyone is not only… a) aware of the where the food they are consuming comes from and b) we all have the opportunity to make safe and healthy decisions for ourselves.  it worries me that there is a possibility that the FDA withheld information from the general public regarding the matter, if we are ingesting mercury on a daily basis it is obviously our right to know. for now, i will just cut it out of my diet completely and keep my eyes out for anymore info about it.

some sources online: gristmill, edible_sanfrancisco, IATP

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