HEALTH ALERT: Mercury Found inMany High-Fructose Corn Syrup Foods

Soda, granola bars, ketchup and many other foods taste sweet but many have an alarmingly bitter side: they also come with mercury, a heavy metal that is toxic to humans.

These surprising findings come from two studies that focused on high-fructose corn syrup — one of which was published in the journal Environmental Health and the other by the non-profit Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy (IATP).

In the first Environmental Health study, researchers, led by Renee Dufault, who was working at the FDA at the time, found mercury in almost half of the samples of commercial high-fructose corn syrup that they tested in 2005. Dufault, who is now retired from the FDA, said in a statement that she told the FDA about her findings but the agency did not follow up.

Dr. David Wallinga, a food safety researcher at IATP, followed up with the second study that measured mercury in 55 brand-name food and beverage products in which high-fructose corn syrup was the first or second ingredient on the label. The study found mercury in nearly a third of those products. Among the wide list of products: Hunt’s Tomato Ketchup, Yoplait Strawberry Yogurt, Manwich Gold Sloppy Joe, Nutri-Grain Strawberry Cereal Bars, and Hershey’s Chocolate Syrup.

The source of the mercury appears to be caustic soda and hydrochloric acid, which are used in the manufacturing process to make high-fructose corn syrup.

The Corn Refiners Assocation claims that high-fructose corn syrup is safe. But at least one maker of the caustic soda that uses the mercury-based technology listed the corn syrup industry as a client. Also, according to the Chicago Tribune, the Chlorine Institute, a chemical industry trade group, said, “It is conceivable that measurable mercury content can be found in high-fructose corn syrup regardless of how it is processed.”


Dufault, R, LeBlanc, B, Schnoll, R. et a. “Mercury from chlor-alkali plants: measured concentrations in food product sugar,” Environmental Health, 2009;8:2 – link to abstract.

Hawthorne, Michael. “Mercury in Corn Syrup? Food made with ingredients maybe have traces of toxic metal.” Chicago Tribune, January 27, 2009 – link.

“Mercury found in High Fructose Corn Syrup Used as Food Sweetener,” Medical News Today, January 27, 2009 – link.

Preidt, Robert, HealthDay. “Study: High-fructose corn syrup contains mercury.” USA Today, January 27, 2009 – link.

“Studies find mercury in much U.S. corn syrup,” Reuters, January 27, 2009 – link.

Wallinga, D, Sorensen, J, Mottl, P, et al. “Not So Sweet: Missing Mercury and High Fructose Corn Syrup.” Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy (IATP), 26 January 2009 – download study.

Melissa’s Comments:

I have been warning about the dangers of high-fructose corn syrup (HFCS) for many years. Not only does HFCS promote insulin resistance, the cornerstone of type 2 diabetes, but now we know it gives us little doses of mercury, which has been linked to severe neurological disorders, learning disabilities in children and heart disease in adults and also can result in loss of hair, teeth and nails, muscle weakness, loss of kidney function, emotional mood swings, and memory impairment. If you weren’t convinced of avoiding any food or drink with high-fructose corn syrup like the plague before, this should be the nail in the coffin to prompt all of us to stop buying anything with this ingredient and bury high-fructose corn syrup for good.

Just by cutting everything with this one ingredient out, your body will be forever grateful and you’ll see your health dramatically improve. You’ll also be speaking with your wallet to tell the corrupt big-business food companies that you’re not going to be a guinea pig eating the disease-causing food they make anymore. Any company that uses high-fructose corn syrup doesn’t deserve even one penny from anyone. Get angry, pull your money away from those companies if you haven’t already, and make them go out of business. And take a lead from one of my other clients to protect your kids: Write your kids’ school boards to get high-fructose corn syrup foods out of the schools your kids attend so you don’t risk your kids getting poisoned from the hidden mercury.

If you start to get off foods with high-fructose corn syrup and find yourself craving foods made with it, I can help you through that. (See my Consultations and Coaching page.) I have counseled numerous people who actually became addicted to the very high-fructose corn syrup that was sabotaging their health. So, it’s time for no more excuses. High-fructose corn syrup is toxic in many ways, and the sooner you stop eating it, the better your health will be.

© Copyright 2009 Melissa Diane Smith

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