Is there mercury in your favorite foods?

What’s being said:

You may already know about mercury in tuna fish and other fish, but if you like sweets more than fish, the latest news is even worse: there could be mercury in many favorite snacks that are sweetened with high fructose corn syrup (HFCS).

Never heard of HFCS? That’s what has replaced sugar in many popular foods in your supermarket, such soft drinks, yogurt, cookies, ice cream, salad dressing, and even soup.

What is mercury and who is most affected by exposure to mercury?:

Mercury can potentially cause brain damage in any of its forms – whether it is inhaled, absorbed through the skin or mucous membranes, or consumed in food and drinks.

Pregnant women and children are most sensitive. When babies are exposed to high levels of mercury in the womb, their brains may develop abnormally, impairing their ability to learn and reducing IQ. Is there a “safe” level of exposure to mercury? Experts keep changing their minds about that, lowering the levels of what they consider safe.

What the studies found:

In one study, Renee Dufault, a former FDA scientist, reported in a health journal that 9 of 20 samples of commercial HFCS had detectable levels of mercury.

This contamination of HFCS with mercury results from certain types of technology that are used in the making of HFCS. The finished HFCS, contaminated with mercury, is purchased by food companies and then used as an ingredient in their food products.

In a separate study of samples of popular foods that are usually marketed to children, many of the foods with high levels of HFCS were found to contain mercury. (This study can be read in full at: www.healthobservatory.org/library.cfm?refid=105026)

What should you do?

This is not the only reason to be concerned about HFCS. Other studies indicate that HFCS may contribute to obesity more than the amount of calories involved. Some experts wonder how HFCS has contributed to the obesity epidemic in the U.S. and other countries, and the new studies of mercury in HFCS add more reason for concern. More research is needed to determine the exact risks of HFCS, but meanwhile, you should read food labels if you want to reduce your consumption of HFCS. You can also contact your Members of Congress to ask the FDA to study the risks of HFCS.