Despite claims by the Corn Refiner Association to the contrary, there are in fact problems with high fructose corn syrup (HFCS). In addition to being a major contributor to epidemic obesity and diabetes rates, you can add the presence of mercury to the growing list of reasons why HFCS is dangerous in any amount.
According to a recent Mother Jones article, in 2004 when FDA researcher Renee Dufault found mercury in HFCS samples from leading manufacturers, they did what any agency looking to protect public health would do: they asked her to stop her inquiry. The source of the mercury is thought to be lye, which is used to separate the cornstarch from the kernel. Many chemical companies make lye by pumping salt through large vats of mercury. That mercury-laced lye is most likely the same lye used in processing corn to make HFCS.
After the FDA tried to stymie Dufault’s inquiry, she decided pursue the matter further, sending the original 20 samples to be retested; nearly half of the samples contained mercury. This past January, Dufault published her findings in the peer-reviewed journal Environmental Health.
At issue between Dufault’s and the FDA’s claims is the what form the mercury is present—whether it’s elemental, inorganic or organic. The FDA, supposedly without any scientific substantiation, claims the mercury found was the relatively benign elemental form. Unfortunately, Dufault and her colleagues’ findings were inconclusive as to sample HFCS’s form, but they believed there was strong evidence that it might be the most harmful organic variety, whose property of easy absorption makes it particularly dangerous. If the mercury were organic, the amounts found would constitute a major health risk (particularly children, pregnant women, women who plan to become pregnant, and nursing mothers) for Americans whose insatiable appetite for sweetness and convenience leads them to consume average 50 grams of HFCS daily.
Putting aside how crummy refined sugar products like HFCS are for your health, the chance that Dufault et al might be right about the mercury, coupled with the the FDA's sketchiness should be sufficient reason to pass on the cookies and soda.
Via Mother Jones