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Mercury in high fructose corn syrup!

Posted on January 29th, 2009 by Alison Read 1 Comment - Add Your Own »

Is high fructose corn syrup bad?

The high fructose debate

There has been much ado the past few years about the negative impact of high fructose corn syrup. It has been linked to the development of diabetes. It has been blamed for the rise in obesity in our country. It has even been blamed for being bad for the planet.

Is the ado about nothing?  The Corn Refiners Association thinks so. According to their website,, they claim that “high fructose corn syrup is safe and nutritionally the same as table sugar.” They even put out a series of corny (ha ha) and sickeningly sweet (ha ha again) advertisements telling the public that it’s okay in moderation. If you haven’t seen this one yet, get your barf bag ready…

Now perhaps they should add this line to the end of the commercial:

“I’ve got another sweet surprise for you honey… there’s mercury in my popsicle! You can have three bites because I love you so much!” (girl throws head back and laughs)*

Mercury found in common foods

According to new research, 17 out of 55 samples of common foods that had high fructose corn syrup as a leading ingredient were found to have detectable mercury. The products were:

  • Quaker Oatmeal to Go bars
  • Jack Daniel’s Barbecue Sauce
  • Hershey’s Chocolate Syrup
  • Kraft Original Barbecue Sauce
  • Nutri-Grain Strawberry Cereal Bars
  • Manwich Gold Sloppy Joe
  • Market Pantry Grape Jelly
  • Smucker’s Strawberry Jelly
  • Pop-Tarts Frosted Blueberry
  • Hunt’s Tomato Ketchup
  • Wish-Bone Western Sweet & Smooth Dressing
  • Coca-Cola Classic: no mercury found on a second test
  • Yoplait Strawberry Yogurt
  • Minute Maid Berry Punch
  • Yoo-hoo Chocolate Drink
  • Nesquik Chocolate Milk
  • Kemps Fat Free Chocolate Milk

You can read the whole fascinating (seriously!) report here: Not So Sweet: Missing Mercury and High Fructose Corn Syrup. It’s written for you, the consumer, and gives a great background on high fructose corn syrup, who’s eating it, how it’s made and what it’s used for.

Okay, there’s mercury in my food — is that so bad?

There is a lot of debate about these findings and whether high fructose corn syrup is safe or not. The researchers who conducted the study argue that the fact that food manufacturers use mercury in the processing of high fructose corn syrup “is a totally avoidable, unnecessary exposure to mercury” and that any amount of mercury can be potentially dangerous, especially for children and babies.

Critics of the study and its findings say that they don’t specify the form of mercury found and that this matters with regards to its safety. They also argue that the amounts of mercury found are not enough to be dangerous to the consumer.

Want to know my opinion?

I haven’t eaten high fructose corn syrup in years, except in an occasional candy. My kids don’t eat it. One of the reasons it is in so many processed foods is because it is cheap, which is a bigger priority to most food manufacturers than the public’s health. The way high fructose corn syrup is manufactured compared to how cane sugar is made just doesn’t seem right.

Products that contain high fructose corn syrup are highly processed, which means you shouldn’t be eating it anyway. So dump your soda for one of the delicious natural sodas that are out there, spread your toast with real fruit jelly, and stop giving your kids pop-tarts! Why take a chance with diabetes, obesity or mercury?

*For extra high fructose fun, watch all the commercial spoofs of the corn syrup ad on YouTube!

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  1. There are a whole lot of reasons to not like corn syrup. but I don’t think mercury is one of them.

    We all consume tons more mercury in the air we breathe due to the lax regulation of coal burning plants than in any food, yet few anti-mercury types seem to worry much about it.

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