Bauman College Programs

Author Topic: Yummy Mercury Oatmeal  (Read 4326 times)

Offline Nicole

  • Member
  • *
  • Posts: 197
Yummy Mercury Oatmeal
« on: January 28, 2009, 10:49:27 AM »
PR debacle for HFCS: Care for some mercury with your oatmeal?
by Janet @ 4:05 pm on January 26th, 2009.

"That much-debated sweetener, high-fructose corn syrup, is going to need more than a pricey PR campaign to fix this one.

After one set of scientists found mercury — yes, everyone’s favorite brain-impairing element — in almost half of commercial HFCS, another bunch of scientists decided to get specific and tested 55 common consumer products that use HFCS. And guess what? Almost a third of them contain mercury.

How did the heavy metal get in there? In making HFCS — that “natural” sweetener, as the Corn Refiners Associaton likes to call it — caustic soda is one ingredient used to separate corn starch from the corn kernel. Apparently most caustic soda for years has been produced in industrial chlorine (chlor-alkali) plants, where it can be contaminated with mercury that it passes on to the HFCS, and then to consumers.

David Wallinga, M.D., and his co-authors of “Not So Sweet: Missing Mercury and High Fructose Corn Syrup,” are naming brand names in their report from the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy. At the top of the list: Quaker Oatmeal to Go, Jack Daniel’s Barbecue Sauce from Heinz, Hershey’s Chocolate Syrup, Kraft Original Barbecue Sauce, and Nutri-Grain Strawberry Cereal Bars. Oy!

The List:
The Article:

And, although soft drinks, the über-users of HFCS, surprisingly weren’t the worst offenders, I’m betting Coca-Cola Classic (coming in at 12th) gets consumed in far higher dietary quantities than Oatmeal to Go.

That’s all bad enough, especially considering no level of mercury is considered safe and that it’s especially toxic to growing brains — that is, the brains of the people consuming the highest levels of HFCS (children) and the brains of babies in utero. (See the figures in the report.) Worse: People at the FDA and USDA knew about the presence of mercury in HFCS and did nothing about it.

According to a press release from the IATP, Renee Dufault, the lead author in the first study (”Mercury from chlor-alkali plants: measured concentrations in food product sugar,” published today in Environmental Health [PDF :], was working at the FDA when the commercial HFCS was tested. The IATF release reports, “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.”

I suppose we’ve already known the FDA is sweet on HFCS (and food from cloned cattle) and can’t find a pathogen when it’s actually looking for it. But if you can’t trust Mr. Quaker, whom can you trust?"
« Last Edit: January 28, 2009, 10:51:02 AM by Nicole »

Offline jodi f.

  • Curriculum Consultant
  • Staff
  • *****
  • Posts: 2789
Re: Yummy Mercury Oatmeal
« Reply #1 on: January 29, 2009, 07:55:12 AM »
Thank you for posting this, Nicole. I'm about to go into the high school again, to speak to two classes of 50 young women, who swill colas and eat candy by the bucketful, and this will be priceless.

Offline ClareB

  • Alumni
  • ***
  • Posts: 9
Re: Yummy Mercury Oatmeal
« Reply #2 on: February 22, 2009, 05:42:27 PM »
Thanks to you and Marlina E - who also posted news about the Mercury content in HFCS - I have somewhere to start on an article I have to write for our quarterly newsletter - Sacramento Natural Foods Co-op Reporter. I was given the assignment on Wednesday to find out what was going on with the reports of Mercury in HFCS and now I have some good links with which to start my research. I do still need to answer the 'how' question of how it actually gets into HFCS and why. Thanks so much for the info.


Offline Nicole

  • Member
  • *
  • Posts: 197
Re: Yummy Mercury Oatmeal
« Reply #3 on: February 22, 2009, 06:22:06 PM »
Hi Clare! That's great that you're writing an article on the subject!

In regards to your question, in the Executive Summary portion of the article (, provides some insight into how the mercury got there.
"...for decades an increasingly common ingredient in processed foods, HFCS, has been made using mercury-grade caustic soda. Caustic soda and a number of other food industry ingredients are produced in industrial chlorine (chlor-alkali) plants. “Mercury-grade,” also known as “rayongrade” caustic soda, comes from chlorine plants still using an outdated 19th century technology that relies on the use of mercury. While most chlorine plants around the world have switched to newer, cleaner technologies, some still rely on the use of mercury. These mercury cell plants may rival coal-fired power plants as sources of mercury “leaked” to the environment. What has not been publicly recognized is that mercury cell technology can also contaminate all the food grade chemicals made from it, including caustic soda, as well as hydrochloric acid. It was unrecognized, that is, until the lead author of the Environmental Health study, a longtime environmental investigator of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), thought to look into it. What she found was that possible mercury contamination of these food chemicals was not common knowledge within the food industry despite the availability of product specification sheets for mercury- grade caustic soda that clearly indicate the presence of mercury (as well as lead, arsenic and other metals). Upon further investigation, she found mercury contamination in some commercial HFCS, which can be made from mercury-grade caustic soda."

Hope that answers the "How" question!  :)

Also, have you heard of the movie, "King Corn"? The guys in the movie actually attempt to make HFCS, the process is alarming!
« Last Edit: February 22, 2009, 06:24:17 PM by Nicole »