High-Fructose Corn Syrup Contaminated With Mercury

by | Jan 27, 2009

I swear, it is too early for April Fool’s Day and this headline is not a joke. I wish it were.

The Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy reports that two new U.S. studies have found detectable levels of mercury in 55 brand name foods made with high-fructose corn syrup (HFCS, from three different manufacturers).

Mercury is a potent toxin that effects the brain and nervous system. It is particularly dangerous for developing children and is associated with learning disabilities and other neurological problems. Because mercury has a particularly long half-life in the human body, women of childbearing age should also avoid mercury.

What upsets me the most about this finding is that these are the kinds of products that are directly marketed toward children.

Maybe you have heard of some of these:

  • Quaker Oatmeal to Go
  • Coca-Cola Classic
  • Yoplait Strawberry Yogurt
  • Minute Maid Berry Punch
  • Hunt’s Tomato Ketchup
  • Smucker’s Strawberry Jelly
  • Nutri‐Grain Strawberry Cereal Bars
  • Hershey’s Chocolate Syrup
  • Pop‐Tarts Frosted Blueberry

For the complete list of contaminated products, click here.

The author of one report is careful to point out that this is “just a snap shot in time,” because they only tested one sample from each product. I hardly find this reassuring, however, since their analysis was also limited to the handful of products they selected and does not tell us about everything else on the grocery store shelves.

At this point we have no way of knowing which products contain mercury and which do not. What we do know is that all of them contain high-fructose corn syrup and are products of our industrialized food system.

I’m starting to wonder, how many outbreaks and contamination scares does it take to screw in a light bulb? That is, the idea light bulb within our federal government that asks,

“Maybe we should take steps to improve the safety and nutritional value of our nation’s food supply?”

Crazy thought, I know.

Keep in mind we are not even talking about the colossal damage these products do to our health and economy without mercury.

Are fresh, natural foods that grow from the ground such a ludicrous alternative?

Please share your thoughts, this topic always baffles me.

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16 Responses to “High-Fructose Corn Syrup Contaminated With Mercury”

  1. Anonymous says:

    Whoa, scary…..!!!

  2. Mike says:

    Maybe we can all be a part of the class action lawsuit!!! Actually this is just really sad. I don’t think its possible for me to live without industrialized food. I mean, the super bowl is coming up, and theres no way I can avoid hfcs at these parties. This sucks.

  3. Darya Pino says:

    @MikeYou could watch the game at my house!But seriously, I feel you. It is really tough. I think that is what makes me so upset about this, that so many people feel helpless.

  4. jeff h says:

    i feel pretty smug having given up HFCS and HFCS-contaminated products years ago. of course i do drink mexican coke, which has pure, god-blessed sugar, but probably also a long string of chemicals with names i cant pronounce.

  5. Allie says:

    Generally I try to avoid HFCS although it occasionally finds its way into my diet. This is another great reason to continue the effort…(also, right now I’m really glad my Mom gave me Juicy Juice as a kid…100% juice!….wait, did HFCS exist in the 1980’s?)

  6. Scott says:

    You mention ‘natural foods that grow from the ground’ likes its an ideal that we should strive for; firstly, that would solve any of the E.coli or salmonella problems, as those were found on strawberrys and spinach. Secondly, it is very possible for the soil to be contaminated with mercury or other heavy metals that plants could still take up through their root system and into the parts that we eat. This leads me to ask, is the only safe source of food organic food?

  7. Travis Saunders, MSc says:

    That is absolutely terrifying. Thanks for pointing this out, that’s the first I’ve heard of any of this.I’ve got to admit, breakfast for much of my childhood consisted of toast covered in Kraft peanut butter and several table spoons of corn syrup, followed by “fluff” sandwiches for lunch.

  8. Darya Pino says:

    @jeff hNicely done.—–@AllieIsn’t it amazing how ubiquitous it is?! I try my best as well, but sometimes there is just no avoiding it.BTW, when I was a kid I ate EVERYTHING on that list. Boooo.—–@ScottGood point. More and more even vegetarian foods are being contaminated. The problem is the centralized industrialization of our food, so organic won’t solve everything either. Big organic is just another branch of big agribusiness. Buying local, small batch produce is the best option we have right now.—–@TravisThe important thing is that you survived 😉

  9. doug says:

    Well great. Now what am I supposed to do with this Tuna and Strawberry Jelly sandwich I brought for lunch?

  10. Matt Shook says:

    It’s really great to see so many responses to this topic! I think the publication of the fact that HFCS (which is practically in every packaged food item in Safeway) contains mercury can be a very good thing…a real wake up call for those on the fence when deciding if massive-scale industrialized agribusiness is the best way to feed the nation.By purchasing locally grown fruits, vegetables, grains, and other consumables…we can free ourselves from a lot of these outbreaks/poisoning/pollution problems that are inherent in large-scale industrialized production. As Darya pointed out…it’s quite simple, a centralized national food system is highly susceptible to disease/pollution/etc. On the flip side, a diversified local food system is flexible and strong.The only reason this hasn’t been promoted/implemented by our government yet is because a lot of corporations will lose out on a lot of money if the masses started going to their local farmers market instead of the grocery store.It’s an interesting idea really…that potentially the way we choose spend our money can have a greater impact than the representatives and measures we vote for.I hope you all have a HFCS and mercury free day! 😉

  11. Healthyliving says:

    Geez, every day I find out about another way that we are trying to kill ourselves and our kids. Is anyone doing anything about this? If the FDA or some other organization on this?

  12. Darya Pino says:

    @HealthylivingWell, the HFCS people had a Google Ad on my site within hours of my posting. They claim the research is “old”. So yes, THEY are doing something about it, TRYING TO DISCREDIT IT!!!But you are right, the FDA should be on this.

  13. Matt Shook says:

    @Healthyliving, DaryaI have that same ad at the top of my gmail…it leads to this page…which is total bunk.The FDA will drag their feet on this and eventually claim all HFCS is safe, as they always (well, 99% of the time) side with industry.

  14. Darya Pino says:

    @MattThe FDA is pretty inadequate, but I wouldn’t necessarily say they always side with industry. The USDA takes the cake on that one. They have no shame.

  15. Matt Shook says:

    @DaryaI will concede that point…the USDA is far superior in terms of mind-boggling inadequacy. I’m surprised some hipster kid hasn’t made an “Epic Fail” YouTube video about the USDA yet…I admit when it comes to the FDA I am jaded by their general consensus that pharmaceuticals are safe until proven otherwise, and supplements are dangerous until proven safe…but that’s a whole different topic. The entire HFCS thing is laughable…especially after they recently went to such lengths as to allow it to be called natural. This article, and this memo make for some absurdly hilarious reading…especially in light of recent revelations. 😉

  16. Greg says:

    How totally corrupt! Industry hacks…..they have no ethics. They’d probably love to sell me a jar of salmonella peanut butter full of hfcs. its so annoying, you cannot trust any of them.

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