Eat Drink Better

Published on January 30th, 2009 | by Beth Bader


High Fructose Corn Syrup Often Contains Mercury

There has been a lot of criticism heaved onto China, rightly so, over the use of melamine in foods. Perhaps we should save more of that outrage for closer to home. Three days ago, the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy published their findings in association with the Environmental Health Journal study:

Mercury was found in over a third of processed food products tested, the source of the mercury is contaminated high fructose corn syrup.

One of the researchers, Renee Dufalt, led inquiry into the possibility that HFCS contained mercury while working with the FDA in 2005.

The FDA did nothing to inform consumers about the mercury in the last four years.

Two other very common food additives are also manufactured with mercury cell technology; citric acid and sodium benzoate. These additives have not yet been tested.

After the jump don’t miss the list of names to contact including who is making the tainted HFCS, who was head of the EPA at the time, where you can take action, and what you can do.

Why This is a Big Issue

The average consumer in the U.S. gets ten percent of his calories per day from high fructose corn syrup, nearly twelve teaspoons of HFCS a day per person on average is consumed. The ingredient is ubiquitous, present in nearly every non-organic, processed food item on the store shelf, and in nearly every food item available at a fast food restaurant. Even items you would never expect such as a “wholegrain” bread contain the substance.

Mercury is a heavy metal known to potentially damage organ systems including the heart, nervous and immune systems. The toxin can cross the placenta of a pregnant woman and poses a significant risk for abnormal brain development in the baby — abnormalities include impaired learning ability and reduced IQ. Young children are also particularly vulnerable.

Food products containing HFCS are frequently marketed to young children and are heavily consumed by this group. Products include baked goods, cereals, fast food, candy, dairy products like chocolate milk, jelly, salad dressings like ranch, juice. Nearly every processed food item on the shelf and fast food item on the menu, and in the vending machines in our schools.

Common brands that tested positive for mercury include; Quaker, Hunt’s, Manwich, Hershey’s, Smucker’s, Kraft, Nutri-Grain and Yoplait.

What We Can Do

Interestingly, President Obama introduced legislation in 2007 to end the use of mercury cell technology while still a senator. It’s time to ask him to reintroduce this bill. The technology is outdated and is completely unnecessary to use in manufacturing. This issue was avoidable. Write your representatives and President Obama and ask that this legislation be reintroduced and passed. The name of the bill is S. 1818 Missing Mercury in Manufacturing Monitoring and Mitigation Act.

It is also time to ask the new FDA administrators to be accountable. In China, perpetrators in the recent tainted milk issue were sentenced to death in two cases and life imprisonment for others. The least we could expect in our country should be legal action that holds the manufacturers and FDA administration accountable. Imagine what would happen if we imposed a death sentence here, or at least a civil suit.

If you would like names of who was running the EPA in 2005 when the agency knew about the mercury issue anddid nothing, here they are: Stephen Johnson and Micheal Leavitt.

There are four high fructose corn syrup plants in the U.S. that still use mercury cell technology. Here are their names and contact information. Go ahead, give them a call, email or letter and tell them what you think.

As consumers, we can also quit buying products containing HFCS. We can also call or write the manufacturers of these products and let them know we quit buying their product until we know it is safe. The list of manufacturers include (merely a partial list):

  • Quaker
  • Hunt’s
  • Manwich
  • Hershey’s
  • Smucker’s
  • Kraft
  • Nutri-Grain
  • Yoplait

Keep up with the latest sustainable food news by signing up for our free newsletter. CLICK HERE to sign up!

Tags: , ,

About the Author

Beth Bader is co-author of the book, The Cleaner Plate Club. She is a passionate "Local Food" advocate and an author for the Eat Local Challenge. She loves creating healthy, family-friendly, seasonal foods, family dinners, cooking for friends, and cooking with her child. You can her at The Expatriate's Kitchen.

14 Responses to High Fructose Corn Syrup Often Contains Mercury

  1. Acai says:

    The technology is outdated and is completely unnecessary to use in manufacturing. This issue was avoidable. Write your representatives and President Obama and ask that this legislation be reintroduced and passed. The name of the bill is S. 1818 Missing Mercury in Manufacturing Monitoring and Mitigation Act.

  2. Renee Dufault says:

    Actually there are supposably four MERCURY CELL chlor-alkali plants left in the U.S. – that is what I think you meant to say (as opposed to four HFCS plants).

  3. Micu M. Finkelstein says:

    this is very, very bad and i wont to see samebody do samething obouded, I just can’t belived…..

  4. Jonesy says:

    I’ve been posting a lot lately about the link between mercury and disorders like autism. Mercury toxicity isn’t the only factor involved in these complex disorders, but it seems to play a pretty big role.

    If you’re at all interested in the epidemic of autism (and related disorders), please read my post entitled “Explaining the Autism Explosion”:

    You can read more about how nutrition and antibiotics fit into this picture here:

  5. Jonesy says:

    Sorry, I put the wrong URL for my website in that last comment. (If someone can change it, then this comment is unnecessary.)

  6. Joshua says:

    Damn. It’s hard enough to find products that don’t contain high fructose corns syrup… thow in citric acid and sodium benzoate, and I seriously doubt you can find ANY products that don’t contain mercury.
    I recently switched to not buying ANYTHING with HFCS
    in it, but the limited selection of things I’ve been
    buying ALL contain citric acid or sodium benzoate.

    What the hell is the FDA thinking? There is no “safe amount” of mercury.

  7. Marina says:

    I knew HFCS was bad, but I didn’t know about the mercury, and now the citric acid makes it even worse! It would be good to stop buying these foods altogether, but it’s so hard to find any truly healthy foods in the stores. I wish I had time to make everything myself!!

    Very informative article, thank you!

  8. Pingback: Who Owns Your Favorite Organic or Natural Food Company? : Eat. Drink. Better.

  9. Pingback: Study Links GM Corn Consumption to Organ Damage : Eat. Drink. Better.

  10. Pingback: GMOs and Organ Damage | Care2 Healthy & Green Living

  11. Pingback: Labels are Tricky « Eat Healthy, Weigh Less

  12. the beds says:

    the beds the beds the beds

  13. Pingback: Sara Lee Skips the High Fructose Corn Syrup – Eat Drink Better

  14. Pingback: Birke Baehr – Changing the World, One Kid at a Time – Eat Drink Better

Back to Top ↑
  • Support our Site!

  • Advertisement

  • Let’s Connect!

  • Advertisement

  • Popular Posts & Pages

    Whether you are looking to completely give up animal products or just want to try eating vegan some of the time, we want to support you! Below, you’ll find articles answering some common questions about vegan cooking and nutrition. If you don’t see your question answered below, please get in touch with us! We are happy to investigate for you!

    Find out what's in season now, plus get plenty of recipe inspiration to help you make the most of every season's beautiful, local fare.

    I love infographics. When I came across this one about what, how, and when to plant vegetables, I thought I’d share. Keep reading after the pic for a few of my own lessons learned.

    Top Sustainable Food Jobs of the Week.

    Looking for an all vegan grocery store? Even if you’re not lucky enough to have one in your town, there are lots of online options for vegan grocery shopping.

  • Advertisement

  • Search the IM Network

  • The content produced by this site is for entertainment purposes only. Opinions and comments published on this site may not be sanctioned by, and do not necessarily represent the views of Sustainable Enterprises Media, Inc., its owners, sponsors, affiliates, or subsidiaries.