30 January 2009

Ultimate Food Nightmare Realized!

Check out this truly horrifying article from the Washington Post. If I didn't know better, I would think this was a joke. Basically, they have found mercury in High Fructose Corn Syrup, mostly in HFCS-heavy products containing dairy. How did the mercury get there? Caustic soda or hydrochloric acid is used to create HFCS, and they can be contaminated with mercury. (Sounds delicious, right?)

I think that folks are more worried about mercury in their kids food than they are about High Fructose Corn Syrup, so perhaps this news will reduce the amount of HFCS the average kid eats. (The Washington Post says, "On average, Americans consume about 12 teaspoons per day of HFCS, but teens and other high consumers can take in 80 percent more HFCS than average. ")

The studies were only testing for mercury, not methylmercury (which is more easily absorbed by people.) The Corn Refiners basically say this study is outdated, and that mercury-contaminated products haven't been used in their processes for several years. However, I found it a little hard to get over the "hydrochloric acid and caustic soda" part of the process. Who cares if it is mercury-free? I have used hydrochloric acid to etch metal plates. I really would not like it to be anywhere near my food. 

The final quote in the article from one of the authors, David Wallinga, of the studies is a little silly, "The bad news is that nobody knows whether or not their soda or snack food contains HFCS made from ingredients like caustic soda contaminated with mercury. The good news is that mercury-free HFCS ingredients exist. Food companies just need a good push to only use those ingredients."  Here's an idea: how about not feeding our kids anything made with caustic soda?

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