As much as I have criticized high-fructose corn syrup over the years, and I was on the warpath long before knew what HFCS was even about, the study just released that mercury was found in high-fructose corn syrup shows a true disregard for the health of Americans.
The world outside the U.S. doesn't have to wrestle with this issue, though the U.S. is trying to force Mexico to take in products made with the substitute sweetener.
In the first study, researchers found detectable levels of mercury in 45% of the samples (20 in all). In the second study, nearly one in three of 55 brand-name foods contained mercury.
Experts say there is no safe level of mercury of the kinds found in high-fructose corn syrup. Women who are pregnant or may become pregnant, along with young children, are more susceptible to the effects of mercury.
On an average basis, Americans consume about 12 teaspoons per day of HFCS; not a surprise but some consumers, including many teens, can take in on average about 22 teaspoons per day of HFCS.
I can't say I completely avoid HFCS. It's difficult to live in the United States and completely avoid it. But I work really hard not to eat that much of it. The fact that mercury is now a threat may make me even more diligent about avoiding HFCS.
It would be fun to imagine myself either going back in time in this country or being in another country, and go up and down grocery store aisles, and not have to fear what I put into my body. No such luck in the U.S. and that is very depressing.
Will this study change the political realities that give HFCS so much power in the U.S.? Difficult to know, but hopefully it will be yet another step toward realization of a better food policy in this country.
* A side note. I know the difference between corn syrup and high-fructose corn syrup, and know that there is a major difference. Unfortunately, the Chicago Tribune doesn't seem to know based on this story about mercury and HFCS. The headline says "corn syrup" as does the first mention in the story. The only high up mention of high-fructose corn syrup is in the second paragraph.
The next mention, outside of two quotes at the end of the story, is in the 9th paragraph. Four of the first five mentions (not counting the headline) refer to it as "corn syrup" when in fact we're talking about high-fructose corn syrup.
In the past, the newspaper has gone soft on Archer Daniels Midland, a major company in Illinois and also a high up major player in why high-fructose corn syrup is so powerful. One would hope that the Tribune's mistakes are linked to laziness and lack of knowledge instead of something more sinister.