My wife, Anne, is allergic to high fructose corn syrup. This is good, because it means we never buy food with that junk in it.
Interestingly, Anne can eat corn on the cob and popcorn without problem. My theory? She was allergic to the enzymes used to ma ke the stuff.
Perhaps, though, Anne might be allergic to some of the other things found in high fructose corn syrup. Check out this list from Grist:
- Caustic soda
- Hydrochloric acid
- Ilter aid
- Powdered carbon
- Calcium chloride
- Magnesium sulfate
Caustic soda? Hydrochloric acid?
Perhaps food makers are using organic caustic soda? It would seem not. In fact, the caustic soda – and corn syrup – contain something even worse. From Tom Philpott of Grist:
Now comes news that makes even an HFCS cynic like me do a spit-take over my home-brewed morning coffee. Turns out that HFCS is commonly tainted with mercury – a highly toxic substance – according to a peer-reviewed report published by Environmental Health.
Eh? Mercury? I thought that stuff was in thermometers, vaccines and fish.
Check out the products found to contain mercury, according to the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy:
- Quaker Oatmeal to Go Jack Daniel’s Barbecue Sauce (Heinz)
- Hershey’s Chocolate Syrup
- Kraft Original Barbecue Sauce
- Nutri-Grain Strawberry Cereal Bars
- Manwich Bold Sloppy Joe Market Pantry Grape Jelly
- Smucker’s Strawberry Jelly
- Pop-Tarts Frosted Blueberry
- Hunt’s Tomato Ketchup Wish-Bone Western Sweet & Smooth Dressing
- Coca-Cola Classic
- Yoplait Strawberry Yogurt
- Minute Maid Berry Punch
- Yoo-hoo Chocolate Drink Nesquik Chocolate Milk
- Kemps Fat Free Chocolate Milk
But let’s be fair here, only one sample was tested of each product; mercury is likely to be found in plenty other products that contain corn syrup, the report authors suggest. The chosen products were intended to illustrate that outdated technology is allowing mercury to creep into food via corn syrup.
On the other hand, if mercury is in these products, it could accumulate quickly in adults and children. Consider that the average American consumes 40 pounds of high fructose corn syrup (dry weight) every year.
So, where’s the Food and Drug Administration been all this time? Apparently the agency has known about the contamination since 2005, writes Grist. Not surprisingly, the FDA didn’t bother to tell the snack-food makers that they were selling mercury-contaminated products.
The FDA could have fixed this problem by requiring food makers to stop using outdated technology. Writes the report authors:
Well over 100 chlor-alkali facilities worldwide have mothballed mercury cell technology since the 1970s. Though significant, most conversion costs can be recovered within five years.
In the U.S., four plants remain uncommitted to phasing out mercury cell technology. Caustic soda from these and other mercury cell plants overseas could continue to be used to manufacture the HFCS destined for foods and beverages sold to Americans.
The report also argues that perhaps corn syrup should not be considered a natural and safe food. You think?
So far, the FDA’s record is getting better and better: it wasn’t aware that a Georgia plant was retesting salmonella-positive peanut butter as safe to eat. And it is continuing to allow American consumers to eat food containing mercury.
I for one am glad my wife has food allergies.