Why? Because there’s mercury in it.

I’m a believer in a simplified life. It’s like, I appreciate the fact that processed foods allow us the ability to eat more complex dishes at less of a cost to our time… but you can’t get “something” for “nothing.” It *has* to cost us in other ways, right?

Well, apparently, in the factories that help create these items (opens a PDF file), the cost is that they use outdated techniques that create two key chemicals used to make high fructose corn syrup.  These outdated techniques use mercury. And remember, they said the stuff was safe, right?

Mercury is one of the more toxic elements found in nature – it is toxic. Period. The interesting thing about this is… even if one manufacturer said “There’s not enough mercury in our product to cause that kind of damage,” (he’d probably be right) the thing is – high fructose corn syrup is everywhere. Ketchup, yogurt, salad dressings, syrups, almost any processed item with an iota of sweetness in it. It has it. So while one item might not have enough to harm you, if you ingest enough of it every day, you can feel the effects.

Why would they use mercury in high fructose corn syrup? Why else? The stuff helps extend shelf life. Surprise, surprise.

And since you know the Corn Refiners Association had a response:

This study appears to be based on outdated information of dubious significance. Our industry has used mercury-free versions of the two re-agents mentioned in the study, hydrochloric acid and caustic soda, for several years…

In 1983, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration formally listed high fructose corn syrup as safe for use in food and reaffirmed that decision in 1996.

This tells me two things: 1) for the study to be “based on outdated information” means that it has to have been accurate at one point in time or another; and 2) since the FDA “formally listed high fructose corn syrup as safe” over 14 years ago, there couldn’t possibly be a reason to test it now… so they won’t be doing so.

Everything from Hunt’s Ketchup (the ketchup I used to looooooove) to Hershey’s Chocolate Syrup is on this list. I’m not going to act like I’m not tardy for the party on this information because much of the news is dated early 2009, but to me it only serves as another polite reminder of why I do my best to avoid processed foods.

In short, do a little digging. Check out that PDF with the list of items that were tested to prove they contained mercury. Question why the FDA isn’t hardcore focused on this. Then do your best to limit the amount of high fructose corn syrup you have in your life.

Any surprises on that list for you? Anything you think you’re going to have a hard time giving up? Do share – maybe I can help. 🙂