High Fructose Corn Syrup Contains Mercury

Yeah, you read that headline right – there’s mercury in high fructose corn syrup.  Not in all HFCS, but in at least some.  It apparently depends on the type of caustic soda used in the processing of the corn.  Sounds yummy, yes?

We already know of the possible links between HFCS and obesity, insulin resistance, and (eventually) diabetes, and that we should consume it in moderation, if at all.  (Studies here, here, and here, just to name a few.)

Now, with mercury possibly contaminating a large percentage of our processed foods, moderation is no longer enough. There is no truly safe limit of mercury exposure, especially in pregnant women or children. We are already exposed to it in fish, meats, and vegetables (due to bioaccumulation) – we shouldn’t also consume it in every cracker, slice of bread, or can of soda.

The study that found the mercury (abstract and full PDF, for free, here) estimates that that potential average daily mercury exposure from HFCS could range from zero to 28.4 micrograms mercury.

To put that number in perspective, the researchers point out that Canada and other countries do not recommend the use of dental amalgam, a common source of mercury exposure, in pregnant women or children.  Dental amalgam exposure ranges, on average, from 0.79 to 1.91 micrograms of mercury.  The possible exposure from HFCS is 14 times that.

Our food system is slowly killing us.

Next time you want to pour a bowl of cereal with HFCS for breakfast or crack open a soda with lunch, why not lick a broken thermometer too?

Check your pantry and get rid of HFCS. It’s in more items than you might realize. The government won’t act quickly or on our behalf – the industry lobbies are too strong and the FDA too incompetent. (They have long insisted that HFCS is “natural”.)  But if we stop buying it, manufacturers will stop putting it in everything.



3 responses to “High Fructose Corn Syrup Contains Mercury

  1. jasony

    Erin and I have tried (and mostly succeeded) to get rid of HFCS as well as partially hydrogenated stuff. We’re not 100% -it’s really, really hard to avoid, especially when eating out- but we’re much better than we used to be.

    disclaimer: I’m eating a Samoa Girl Scout cookie right now. Partially hydrogenated, yes, but totally delicious. Now I feel guilty.

  2. nevra

    Thanks for this Darla. HFCS is one of my biggest pet peeves in this country. It’s amazing to me how our government goes out of its way to control things like alcohol consumption in public parks or nudity (heaven forbid!) but when it comes to food additives, they just don’t care. What the heck is our FDA good for anyway?? Why are our food standards so much lower than in Europe? They hardly use HFCS there. And what really ticks me off is when I try to buy european food items, like Orangina, only to find that the recipe has been changed in America to use HFCS rather than sugar. Same goes for hydrogenated oils (trans fats). Nutella in Europe would NEVER use hydrogenated oils, but the American Nutella does. In Europe, they have banned hormone-treated beef. Here in America? Good luck finding hormone-free beef unless you’re shopping at Whole Foods. The list goes on and on. Like you say, Darla, if we stop buying this junk, then the producers will be forced to change. I will certainly continue to do my part.

  3. I just read about this yesterday! I did a blog post on it as well and let everyone I know, know about it. I can’t believe how apathetic some people are to this.

    I suppose this makes all those ‘facts about hfcs’ really hypocritical…oh wait, mercury is naturally occuring too I suppose! Nice, really nice.