Monday, February 2, 2009

Mercury Found in High Fructose Corn Syrup

A friend at work brought this scary phenomenon to my attention. According to wikipedia, a recent study found traces of mercury in high fructose corn syrup. Here's the excerpt from wikipedia: In 2009, according to a peer-reviewed report published by Environmental Health, high-fructose corn syrup has been found to be commonly tainted with mercury. Traces of mercury have been found in name-brand foods from makers such as Quaker, Hunt's, Manwich, Hershey's, Smucker's, Kraft, Nutri-Grain, and Yoplait. Mercury is a highly toxic substance. It makes its way into high-fructose corn syrup during its production. Several chemicals are required to make high-fructose corn syrup, including caustic soda, hydrochloric acid, alpha-amylase, gluco-amylase, isomerase, powdered carbon, calcium chloride, and magnesium sulfate. Caustic soda and hydrochloric acid can contain traces of mercury.The Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy, tested 55 consumer items, finding mercury in one third of the samples ranging from 30 to 350 parts per trillion. In the United States the FDA has an action level for methylmercury in commercial marine and freshwater fish that is 1.0 parts per million (ppm), and in Canada the limit for the total of mercury content is 0.5 ppm. A 50-pound child eating just one 6-ounce serving of tuna with a mercury concentration of 0.385 ppm each week would exceed EPA’s reference dose by more than four times; a 140-pound woman eating the same amount would exceed EPA’s reference dose by 40%. If you want to read the full article, here is the link to the PDF document: Until I started reading, I didn't realize how big of a deal this is. HFCS is in so many foods! Me, being the freaker-outer that I am sometimes, convinced myself that I will only be able to shop at Whole Foods from now on and my grocery bill will go through the roof. Whole Foods sells 100% organic foods, which (as I have learned through my reading) cannot contain HFCS because at this time it is impossible to have 100% organic HFCS. Food can, however, contain HFCS and still label itself as organic or all natural as long as it is 99% or less organic. There is definitely some trickery going on to sneak this not-so-good-for-you sweetener into our food. So after my initial panic and eventual research, I found out that the best way to find out if HFCS is in the food I eat is by reading the ingredients (duh). So I set off yesterday to the grocery store with my list in hand prepared to read every single ingredient that I planned to put in my and my family member's bodies. To my surprise, I only have to put 3 things down that I planned to buy that contained HFCS. Rice brand Italian sausage (got Bob Evans instead), Oreo cookies (which I really didn't need anyway), and the biggest favorite Post Special Grains Cereal. Here I though I was making a great cereal choice, but HFCS was hiding in there. So I was happy to see that we have been eating well and shouldn't have mercury in our bodies from HFCS. Except maybe N because he eats lunch out every day. It's hard to know what's in there when you're not the one preparing it. All I know is I am really going to pay special attention from now on.