Mercury Found Widespread in High-Fructose Corn Syrup

nohfcsA study published in the February issue of the Environmental Health Journal shows widespread mercury contamination in high-fructose corn syrup (HFCS). HFCS is found everywhere in foods and drinks. The source: some HFCS makers are using mercury-contaminated sodium hydroxide in their manufacturing processes, while others have phased it out.

Now the real question is this: which is more toxic– the mercury or the HFCS itself?

You do not need a degree in toxicology or food nutrition to determine in about 5 minutes what the answer is, unless you are in the corn industry or Big Food. The HFCS is more toxic than the mercury that is in it!

Studies show HFCS contributes to obesity, kidney stones, diabetes in children and adults. It also hurts the kidneys and liver. Folks who drink as few as 2 cans of pop a day are at risk. A lot of kids drink 1 liter; some drink two liters! Americans consume 40 pounds a year of the stuff on average. (I suppose that means some consume over 120 pounds.) See and especially Sickly Sweet: Why and How to Avoid High-fructose Corn Syrup at

In the subject study, the mercury levels in the HFCS were hardly detectible. The study showed half of the 20 samples of HFCS had no detectible amount of mercury, less than 0.005 micrograms per gram (that is less than 5 parts per billion). Most people have no idea what a billion or a trillion is, especially in Washington, D.C., not to mention what a part per billion is.

NOW GET THIS: One part per billion  (ppb) is equivalent to 1 minute of the total elapsed time since Jesus Christ was born!For the love of cheese, 5 ppb of mercury in everything we eat and drink can do no harm!


The study did show the other half the samples had levels that ranged from 0.1 to 0.5 micrograms/gram (100 to 500 ppb). That is 20 to 100 times more that the samples that were at or below 5 ppb  So now we are looking at the equivalent on a time scale of 20 to 100 minutes out of 2000 years.

Hippocrates’ code is “the dose makes the poison”. I spoke with a toxicologist once who actually believed the opposite is true for some compounds. This PhD believed the ridiculous theory that there are no safe levels of certain toxic compounds or elements, including mercury. He was the guy who said to avoid kissing your baby or breathing to close to your loved ones. Why? Because, he said, the mercury gas vapors that come off your teeth fillings. I tried to wise him up, but he wouldn’t wise. (Reminds me of the “one fiber theory” with asbestos-that helped class-action trial attorneys reap $50 billion, a small portion going to the real victims)

As would be expected the Corn Products Manufacturers Association agrees with this assessment, saying these minute levels of mercury are everywhere in everything. What they did not say was that their HFCS itself was far more dangerous than the mercury that is in it.

HCFS is manufactured with heavily government subsidized, genetically modified corn. In the 80s, the corn industry tycoons had gotten the federal government to impose a tax on imported sugar. These steps were needed to make HFCS appear much cheaper to the consumer and than sugar.

We could have made the headline of this story “HFCS is More Toxic Than Mercury That Is In It”. Although true, too many people would think it was a hoax.

Many have switched to diet pop: the aspartame (is that one called Equal or “Sweet and Low”?) that studies show helps you get fat. Problem is that is causes neurological problems in some and decomposes into formaldehyde like substances if it sits in the hot sun, but does so anyway in the gut. Now, Splenda and Sucrolose, well, that is another story. Honestly, I don’t know which is worse: HFCS-laden pop or the “diet” drinks. But it’s nice the pop makers give us choices when it comes to America’s other drinking problem.

Unfortunately, a Google news search showed only 20 articles on the mercury study. This is quite unexpected. Normally, a panic would break out. It is unfortunate because a panic would cause avoidance on most modern foods, including soft drinks, that contain HFCS. That could have been big plus for public health, albeit for the wrong reason.


5 responses to “Mercury Found Widespread in High-Fructose Corn Syrup

  1. I see people buying their children, young children, sodas and energy drinks and I can’t for the life of me figure out how they can do this. What are they thinking? And when they are complaining about how “little Billy’s had his third ear infection this winter” how can they not stop and consider what they are nourishing their children with may be lacking….
    It irks me!

  2. This courtesy of Steve, posted at Steve should when one year supply of Stevia natural sweetener. Sorry, but the links wont work.

    High Fructose Corn Syrup & Mercury
    Independent Testing Found No Quantifiable Mercury – Review by Duke University Medical Center

    Woodhall Stopford, MD, MSPH, of Duke University Medical Center, one of the nation’s leading experts in mercury contamination, reviewed the results of total mercury testing of samples of high fructose corn syrup conducted by Eurofins Central Analytical Laboratory (Metairie, LA) in February and March 2009. Dr. Stopford concluded:

    * No quantifiable mercury was detected in any of the samples analyzed.
    * High fructose corn syrup does not appear to be a measureable contributor to mercury in foods.

    In his summary of findings, Dr. Stopford stated, “Mercury is ubiquitous in the environment being generated both by man-made activities (such as coal-fired power plants) and by natural phenomenon (such as volcanoes). Mercury is found naturally in all living things, including all categories of foods and beverages. Levels in foods and beverages have dropped significantly in the last 40 years. The introduction of high fructose corn syrup as a sweetener has not been associated with any noticeable difference in mercury levels in foods and beverages containing high fructose corn syrup. Levels of mercury found in such foods and beverages are what would be expected from mercury found normally in such foods and beverages and are at background levels.”

    To view Dr. Stopford’s analysis and conclusions, please see:….
    Tests Find No Quantifiable Mercury Levels in High Fructose Corn Syrup

    WASHINGTON, DC – Manufacturers of high fructose corn syrup in the United States and Canada commissioned independent testing and expert review following a recent report alleging mercury findings in high fructose corn syrup. No quantifiable levels of mercury were found according to the independent lab Eurofins Central Analytical Laboratory, whose work and results were reviewed by Woodhall Stopford, MD, MSPH, of Duke University Medical Center, one of the nation’s leading experts in mercury contamination.

    “The American public can rest assured that high fructose corn syrup is safe. Safety is the highest priority for our industry, which is why we immediately commissioned external testing as well as independent expert review of claims concerning mercury and our corn sweetener. No quantifiable levels of mercury were found in high fructose corn syrup,” said Audrae Erickson, president, Corn Refiners Association.

    To read the full Corn Refiners Association statement, please see….
    Expert Assessment: HFCS Mercury Study Flawed and Misleading

    SAN FRANCISCO – ChemRisk, a leading scientific consulting firm, was asked by the Corn Refiners Association (CRA) to examine the recent publication by Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy (IATP), “Not So Sweet: Missing Mercury and High Fructose Corn Syrup,” and the Environmental Health journal publication “Mercury from chlor-alkali plants: measured concentrations in food product sugar,” by Dufault et al, 2009, and to offer our comments and analysis.

    In summary we found:

    * The IATP report and Environmental Health article it references fall well below standards for proper scientific research and published literature.
    * The authors of both publications provide incomplete data and misleading conclusions.
    * Methods described by the authors deviate from standard procedure in testing for mercury.
    * The authors ignore important distinctions between organic and other forms of mercury and their implications for assessing human health risk.
    * Even if it were assumed that the mercury content found in the extremely limited sampling of foods and beverages was representative, the amounts are far lower than levels of concern set by government agencies.
    * The authors assume that the total mercury they detected in a questionably small sampling of consumer foods is primarily the result of high fructose corn syrup; an assumption that has not been properly tested or validated. The recipes for the items studied may have had multiple sources of potential contamination.

  3. Hi,

    “Silver amalgam” fillings contain 50% mercury and you’re worried about corn syrup?You have to be kidding. Is corn syrup 50% mercury?

    Dental fillings are by far the largest source of mercury for the general population. The ADA went nuts when Morley Safer’s 60 Minutes segment on dental mercury was aired in 1990.

    The FDA worked at break-neck pace after the 60 Minutes show was aired to protect the public against dental mercury. After 18 years they agreed to settle a lawsuit in June 2008 concerning dental mercury:

    Moms Against Mercury v. Eschenbach, 07cv2332, U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia

    The first shoe has dropped. The ADA will do everything in its power to try to keep that other shoe from dropping. They just happen to hold the patents on “silver amalgam” fillings.

    You’re being poisoned by your friendly neighborhood dentist with the seal of approval of the ADA and you’re worried about corn syrup? You have to be kidding.

    Ken Presner

    • Ken, you need to reread the story. I am not worried about Hg in corn syrup. I point out that it is zero to begin with. Thanks for the dope on tooth fillings.

  4. Pingback: Top Posts «

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s