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Mercury in HFCS

January 28, 2009

mercuryminerRemember that ad where the well meaning buffoon couldn’t actually remember anything wrong with High Fructose Corn Syrup? Well, recent events have suggested a revision to her helpful friend’s response:

It’s made from corn, doesn’t have artificial ingredients, like sugar is fine in moderation, and is FULL OF MERCURY!

That’s right! That funny feeling America couldn’t quite account for may have been mercury poisoning. It would seem that the institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy did an analysis, published in Environmental Health, of HFCS products right off the supermarket shelves, and found mercury in fully 31 percent of them.

Mercury, of course, is not safe in moderation, and even small amounts of environmental mercury can cause sensory impairment and lack of coordination.

Here’s the thing – the FDA has known about this since 2005 and done nothing. It would seem thatlead Environmental Health author used to be an FDA researcher. She did a similar experiment in 2005, and then watched in amazement while the FDA sat on the results. Three years later she retired from the agency, and apparently decided to go public.

According to Tom Philpott from Grist, two of the laundry list of dangerous chemicals required to make HFCS – caustic soda and Hydrochloric Acid – are made with processes that involve mercury, and commonly contain traces of the dangerous heavy metal.

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