Many common foods made using commercial high fructose corn syrup contain mercury as well, researchers reported on Tuesday, while another study suggested the corn syrup itself is contaminated.
Food processors and the corn syrup industry group attacked the findings as flawed and outdated, but the researchers said it was important for people to know about any potential sources of the toxic metal in their food.
In one study, published in the journal Environmental Health, former Food and Drug Administration scientist Renee Dufault and colleagues tested 20 samples of high fructose corn syrup and found detectable mercury in nine of the 20 samples.
Dufault said in a statement that she told the FDA about her findings but the agency did not follow up.
Dr. David Wallinga, a food safety researcher and activist at the nonprofit Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy, said he followed up on the report to find mercury in actual food.
“When I learned of that work, I said that is interesting but we don’t just go out and eat a spoonful of high fructose corn syrup,” Wallinga said in a telephone interview.
“We went and looked at supermarket samples where high fructose corn syrup was the first or second ingredient on the label,” he said. These 55 different foods included barbecue sauce, jam, yogurt and chocolate syrup.
“We found about one out of three had mercury above the detection limit,” Wallinga said.
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