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Fish Not the Only Popular Food Which May Contain Mercury

Two new studies from researchers at the non profit watchdog group Institute for Agricultural and Trade Policy found mercury in 50% of high fructose corn syrup samples that they tested.

The first study, published in the January 2009 issue of Environmental Health, analyzed 20 samples of products containing high fructose corn syrup and found mercury in nine of them.

The products contained up to .57 mcg of mercury for every gram of high fructose corn syrup. The average American consumes about 50 g of high fructose corn syrup each day. That translates to over 10 mg of mercury per year.

According to the World Health Organization, mercury consumption is only considered safe when levels are below 1.5 mcg per kilogram of body weight.

The second study found mercury in nearly one third of 55 popular brand name food and beverage products which listed high fructose corn syrup as the first or second ingredient on the label. The chemical was most common in dairy products, dressings and condiments.

High fructose corn syrup is a corn based sweetener that has replaced sugar in many beverages and foods like breads, cereals, yogurt, soups and condiments.

To produce high fructose corn syrup, many manufacturers use mercury to create a chemical called caustic soda. This is used to separate the corn kernel from corn starch during processing. In some cases the mercury can contaminate the caustic soda and, in turn, the high fructose corn syrup.

Since mercury can be toxic in all forms, hopefully this study will serve as a catalyst for industry changes that prevent avoidable mercury contamination in foods containing high fructose corn syrup.
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