Top | Sift

Mercury in corn syrup

(article, Kim Carlson)

Remember that scene in the documentary '"King where Curt and Ian attempt to make high-fructose corn syrup (HFCS) in their kitchen? Required: all sorts of nasty (i.e., poisonous) chemicals. It's hilarious and horrifying at the same time. 
Now it turns out that HFCS — that industrial sweetener ubiquitous in everything from soda to instant oatmeal to crackers — may be even more frightening than we thought.

Over at Grist, Tom Philpott recently posted about a new study in the journal Environmental Health. HFCS, the study reports, often contains trace amounts of mercury, because two of the chemicals used to produce HFCS — caustic soda and hydrochloric acid — are often made through a process that uses mercury. 

Mercury, a highly toxic substance that's especially harmful to developing brains, doesn't belong in our food. Remember last year, when the FDA ruled that HFCS could be labeled "[/articles/sift/labelgame natural]?" According to Grist, the folks at the FDA knew of the possibility of mercury in HFCS when they made that ruling. 

For more on the story, head over to the Washington Post_ and the Ethicurean; we're sure to hear more about it in coming weeks. (The Corn Refiners Association, for example, has already issued a response to the news, calling the study "outdated.")

Meanwhile, you might want to steer clear of products that contain HFCS, until you can be sure the HFCS was produced without mercury.