If you’re a label reader like I am, you’re already aware of how many processed foods contain high fructose corn syrup (HFCS) in place of sugar and used to enhance product shelf life. HFCS is found in sweetened beverages, breads, cereals, breakfast bars, lunch meats, yogurts, soups and condiments. A recent study as reported by the scientific journal Environmental Health has found that nearly 50% of HFCS tested contains mercury.
“Mercury is toxic in all its forms,” said David Wallinga, M.D of The Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy. “Given how much high fructose corn syrup is consumed by children, it could be a significant additional source of mercury never before considered. We are calling for immediate changes by industry and the FDA to help stop this avoidable mercury contamination of the food supply.”
The study also reports that these same Mercury cell chlor-alkali products are used to produce thousands of other products including food ingredients such as citric acid, sodium benzoate, and high fructose corn syrup.
I do my best to keep products that contain HFCS out of my pantry, however it is difficult to control what my family is exposed to outside of our home in restaurants, schools, etc…. The good news – Mercury-free HFCS exists and will become more readily available thanks to legislation introduced by then-Senator Barack Obama in 2007 to force the remaining chlor-alkali plants to phase out mercury cell technology by 2012. In the meantime since there is no way to tell if the HFCS with mercury is being used in a particular product, the best way to avoid exposure is to stay away from high fructose corn syrup containing products all together.