The reason: High fructose corn syrup’s made using caustic soda, some of which is made at plants that also make chlorine using a process involving mercury. That mercury can get into the chlorine and the caustic soda, and thereby, the high fructose corn syrup. That mercury-laced high fructose syrup then gets put into your popular everyday supermarket product! Here are the 14 products that tested positive for mercury:
Don’t head to the emergency room yet though. While the study estimates “potential total mercury ingestion via HFCS of up to 28.5ug total mercury/day” for the average American, the study also says it’s “difficult to know to what to compare this figure.” Why? The EPA’s has a maximum recommended dietary intake 5.5ug/day of methylmercury – the form of mercury typically found in fish and seafood — but no recommendations for total mercury, which is what this study measured.
The bigger issue that this study points out is that the FDA’s known about these mercury contamination issues but has done nothing about them. The study calls on you to contact your elected officials, asking them to push the FDA on this issue and to force the chlorine plants that are still using mercury to transition to cleaner technologies.
Read the full report, “Not So Sweet: Missing Mercury and High Fructose Corn Syrup,” (PDF) for more details. If you were still pouring on the Hershey’s Chocolate Syrup despite its unhealthy high fructose corn syrup content, then maybe mercury will get you to switch to fair trade organic chocolate!
Photo: John Althouse Cohen
• Read Robin Shreeve's blog on mercury and high fructose corn syrup.