The group Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy (IATP) reported that nearly one-third of 55 popular brand name food and beverage products such as Quaker, Hershey's, Krafts and Smuckers, are said to contain traces of mercury. IATP said this is because of mercury-contaminated high fructose corn syrup (HFCS) found in most of these products.
On average, Americans are said to consume about 12 teaspoons per day of HFCS, said IATP, as HFCS is used in many processed foods such as in sweetened beverages, breads, cereals, breakfast bars, lunch meats, yogurts, soups and condiments.
"Mercury is toxic in all its forms," said IATP's David Wallinga, M.D."Given how much high fructose corn syrup is consumed by children, it could be a significant additional source of mercury never before considered. We are calling for immediate changes by industry and the FDA to help stop this avoidable mercury contamination of the food supply."
Wallinga co-authored the IATP report as well as a study recently published in the journal Environmental Health about the production of HFCS using caustic soda that can be contaminated with mercury. Wallinga pointed out that some caustic soda are produced in chlor-alkali plants that still use mercury cells.
The study noted that several HFCS samples were found to contain levels of mercury ranging from below a detection limit of 0.005 to 0.570 micrograms mercury per gram of high fructose corn syrup. Wallinga said four U.S. chlor-alkali plants still rely on mercury cell technology although a legislation introduced in 2007 will force them to phase out mercury cell technology by 2012.
In Europe, only 40% of chloralkali production are said to be mercury-free, said IATP.
- Incomplete data and misleading conclusions
- Methods deviate from standard procedure in testing for mercury
- Important distinctions between organic and other forms of mercury and their implications for assessing human health risk is ignored
- Assuming mercury trace is found in samples, the amounts are far lower than levels of concern set by government agencies
- Possible multiple sources of potential mercury contamination other than from HFCS