Just when the Corn Refiners Association thought things were getting better for high fructose corn syrup (HFCS), it appears that mercury has found its way into the leading non-diet sweetener. From the Washington Post:
Almost half of tested samples of commercial high-fructose corn syrup (HFCS) contained mercury, which was also found in nearly a third of 55 popular brand-name food and beverage products where HFCS is the first- or second-highest labeled ingredient, according to two new U.S. studies.
On average, Americans consume about 12 teaspoons per day of HFCS, but teens and other high consumers can take in 80 percent more HFCS than average.
“Mercury is toxic in all its forms. 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 [U.S. Food and Drug Administration] to help stop this avoidable mercury contamination of the food supply,” said the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy’s Dr. David Wallinga, a co-author of both studies.
Product brands with the highest levels of mercury (most to least) include: 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 Dressing, Coca-Cola Classic, Yoplait Strawberry Yogurt, Minute Maid Berry Punch, Yoo-hoo Chocolate Drink, Nesquik Chocolate Milk, and Kemps Fat Free Chocolate Milk.
What you need to know:
HFCS is used extensively in soft drinks, ready-meals, and other processed foods because it is much cheaper than table sugar. Most nutrition and diet experts see no difference nutritionally speaking, between sugar and HFCS, although all are woried by the vast amount of HFCS used in foods, and contributing to America’s obesity epidemic.
Mercury is a dangerous poison that can be especially harmful to neural development of fetuses, infants, and young children. Many large fish species have been contaminated with mercury due to industrial spillage into lakes and oceans, and there are medical advisories that encourage pregnant women and parents to limit consumption of certain types of tuna and salmon as a safet precaution.
Mercury found its way into HFCS as a result of the industrial processing of corn kernels into a sugary syrup. the amount found, though, is a thousand fold less than in fish.
So by our book, the true health risks of consuming sugary foods is still obesity related disease, not mercury. However, this is great PR for the anti-HFCS camps, who will surely use thee news to spread more fear among consumers.
What to do at the supermarket:
Avoid sweetened food in general. Take a look at different product ingredient list, and you’ll be surprised how many contain HFCS, sugar, syrups, and other needless calorie adding sweeteners.
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