I posted a couple of weeks ago about the corn syrup lobby and their absurd advertising campaign that suggests that high-fructose corn syrup (HFCS) is "ok in moderation." The latest brick in that wall came late last week with the release of a study by the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy that showed measurable amounts of mercury in 17 out of 55 products in which HFCS was the first or second ingredient. (Thanks, April, for pointing me to this story!)
There's much to debate about the study and its scientific merit. For one thing, its findings have not yet been reproduced, they are not published in a peer-reviewed scientific journal, and the type and levels of mercury are subject to (some) debate. For more on the study, read this Washington Post article and this one from WebMD.
Two things here stand out to me. One is this fact: 90% of the HFCS made in the U.S. is made by a process that does not use mercury, but many processed packaged foods are made with HFCS from other countries, making the extent of the contamination difficult to trace. Which makes the case yet again for knowing where your food comes from.
The second is in this comment from David Wallinga, MD, the author of the study: "We've got a safer, more efficient technology for making these chemicals that are part of the ingredients used to manufacture high-fructose corn syrup," he told WebMD.
He's referring to non-mercurial ways of making "caustic soda," a chemical that's used to separate corn kernels from corn starch, an essential part of gleaning HFCS from corn. If ever you needed convincing that HFCS is not "food," though, just unpack that sentence and witness these words:
Um, yum? Continue reading this post for the list of the 17 products that were found to contain mercury.
From the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy study:
Quaker Oatmeal to Go
Jack Daniel’s Barbecue Sauce (Heinz)
Hershey's Chocolate Syrup
Kraft Original Barbecue Sauce
Nutri‐Grain Strawberry Cereal Bars
Manwich Bold Sloppy Joe
Market Pantry Grape Jelly
Smucker’s Strawberry Jelly
Pop‐Tarts Frosted Blueberry
Hunt's Tomato Ketchup
Wish‐Bone Western Sweet & Smooth
Yoplait Strawberry Yogurt
Minute Maid Berry Punch
Yoo‐hoo Chocolate Drink
Nesquik Chocolate Milk
Kemps Fat Free Chocolate Milk