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January 30, 2009

Death by Sweetener.

As a mother to a child with autism, I am already very careful about what my son does and does not consume.  However, there was some recent news that I found deeply disturbing.

I have often said that there is more to the extreme rise in childhood disorders these days, particularly autism, than just vaccines.

You already know my stance on other contributing factors such as our severe environmental changes and other toxic and unnecessary food additives.

Perhaps, after reading the following press release about products containing high fructose corn syrup (HFCS) which are contaminated with Mercury, parents will rise up, band together, and demand that companies stop poisoning their families.

Mercury is a cumulative neurotoxin which means that even the smallest amounts ingested over time can prove to be devastating to one’s system.

Today, it’s Mercury.  Tomorrow, it could be something significantly worse.

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Table A: Total mercury detected in 55 brand name foods and beverages high in HFCS
Product Name Total mercury detected (ppt) Laboratory detection limit (ppt)

Source

Quaker Oatmeal to Go 350 80
Jack Daniel’s Barbecue Sauce (Heinz) 300 100
Hershey’s Chocolate Syrup 257 50
Kraft Original Barbecue Sauce 200 100
Nutri‐Grain Strawberry Cereal Bars 180 80
Manwich Bold Sloppy Joe 150 80
Market Pantry Grape Jelly 130 80
Smucker’s Strawberry Jelly 100 80
Pop‐Tarts Frosted Blueberry 100 80
Hunt’s Tomato Ketchup 87 50
Wish‐Bone Western Sweet & Smooth 72 50
Coca‐Cola Classic 62 50
Yoplait Strawberry Yogurt 60 20
Minute Maid Berry Punch 40 30
Yoo‐hoo Chocolate Drink 30 20
Nesquik Chocolate Milk 30 20
Kemps Fat Free Chocolate Milk 30 20
Hy‐Top Syrup ND 50
Hawaiian Punch Fruit Juicy Red ND 50
NOS High Performance Energy Drink ND 50
A & W Root Beet ND 30
Dr. Pepper ND 30
Wyler’s Italian Ices ND 30
Market Pantry Ice Pops ND 30
Kool‐Aid Bursts Tropical Punch ND 30
Kool‐Aid Cherry Jammers ND 30
Sunny‐D ND 30
Snapple Peach Iced Tea ND 30
Powerade Orange ND 30
Lipton Green Tea ND 30
Zoo Juice Orange ND 30
Tropicana Twister Cherry Berry Blast ND 30
Fanta Orange ND 30
Pepsi ND 30
7‐Up ND 30
Hi‐C Wild Cherry ND 30
Jell‐O Strawberry ND 100
Market Pantry Applesauce ND 100
Mott’s Applesauce ND 100
Campbell’s Tomato Soup ND 100
Aunt Jemima Original Syrup ND 100
Hershey’s Caramel Syrup ND 100
Hershey’s Strawberry Syrup ND 100
Market Pantry Thousand Island ND 100
Smucker’s Strawberry Syrup ND 100
Heinz Hotdog Relish ND 100
Market Pantry Cranberry Sauce ND 100
Market Pantry Tomato Soup ND 100
Ocean Spray Cranberry Sauce ND 100
Mrs. Butterworth Original Syrup ND 100
Heinz Tomato Ketchup ND 100
Wish‐Bone Thousand Island Dressing ND 100
Welch’s Grape Jelly ND 100
Nesquik Strawberry Milk ND 20
Land O’ Lakes Chocolate Milk ND 20
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Much High Fructose Corn Syrup Contaminated With Mercury, New Study Finds

Press Release

Brand-Name Food Products Also Discovered to Contain Mercury Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy (IATP), Jan 26, 2009
Source

Minneapolis – Mercury was found in nearly 50 percent of tested samples of commercial high fructose corn syrup (HFCS), according to a new article published today in the scientific journal, Environmental Health. A separate study by the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy (IATP) detected mercury in nearly one-third of 55 popular brandname food and beverage products where HFCS is the first or second highest labeled ingredient-including products by Quaker, Hershey’s, Kraft and Smucker’s.

HFCS use has skyrocketed in recent decades as the sweetener has replaced sugar in many processed foods. HFCS is found in sweetened beverages, breads, cereals, breakfast bars, lunch meats, yogurts, soups and condiments. On average, Americans consume about 12 teaspoons per day of HFCS. Consumption by teenagers and other high consumers can be up to 80 percent above average levels.

“Mercury is toxic in all its forms,” said IATP’s David Wallinga, M.D., and a co-author in both studies. “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.”

In the Environmental Health article, Dufault et al. found detectable levels of mercury in nine of 20 samples of commercial HFCS. Dufault was working at the U.S. Food and Drug Administration when the tests were done in 2005. She and co-authors conclude that possible mercury contamination of food chemicals like HFCS was not common knowledge within the food industry that frequently uses the sweetener. While the FDA had evidence that commercial HFCS was contaminated with mercury four years ago, the agency did not inform consumers, help change industry practice or conduct additional testing.

For its report “Not So Sweet: Missing Mercury and High Fructose Corn Syrup,” IATP sent 55 brand-name foods and beverages containing HFCS as the first or second ingredient to a commercial laboratory to be tested for total mercury. Nearly one in three products tested contained detectable mercury. Mercury was most prevalent in HFCScontaining dairy products, followed by dressings and condiments. Attached is the summary list of the 55 products and their total mercury content.

In making HFCS, caustic soda is used, among other things, to separate corn starch from the corn kernel. For decades, HFCS has been made using mercury-grade caustic soda produced in industrial chlorine (chlor-alkali) plants. The use of mercury cells to produce caustic soda can contaminate caustic soda, and ultimately HFCS, with mercury.

“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,” said Dr. Wallinga. “The good news is that mercury-free HFCS ingredients exist. Food companies just need a good push to only use those ingredients.”

While most chlorine plants around the world have switched to newer, cleaner technologies, many still rely on the use of mercury cells. In 2005, 90 percent of chlorine production was mercury-free, but just 40 percent of European production was mercury-free. Four U.S. chlor-alkali plants still rely on mercury cell technology. In 2007, then-Senator Barack Obama introduced legislation to force the remaining chlor-alkali plants to phase out mercury cell technology by 2012.

The Environmental Health article by Dufault et al. can be found at: www.ehjournal.net.

“Not So Sweet: Missing Mercury and High Fructose Corn Syrup,” by David Wallinga, M.D., Janelle Sorensen, Pooja Mottl and Brian Yablon, M.D., can be found at: www.iatp.org.

IATP works locally and globally at the intersection of policy and practice to ensure fair and sustainable food, farm and trade systems. www.iatp.org

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