Mercury found in some corn syrup

Jan. 27, 2009 at 10:45 PM
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MINNEAPOLIS, Jan. 27 (UPI) -- U.S. researchers say they've found mercury in samples of high fructose corn syrup and more than a dozen products containing the sweetener.

A study published in the journal Environmental Health found mercury in nearly 50 percent of tested samples of high fructose corn syrup. A separate study by the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy found mercury in nearly one-third of 55 popular food and beverage products where the sweetener is the first- or second-highest labeled ingredient, the institute said in a news release Monday.

Dr. David Wallinga, a co-author in both studies, said detectable levels of mercury were found in nine of the 20 samples tested.

Researchers said the corn syrup was likely contaminated with mercury through a caustic soda often used to separate corn starch from the corn kernel. "The use of mercury cells to produce caustic soda can contaminate caustic soda, and ultimately (the corn syrup), with mercury," the report said.

Industry documents cited in the Environmental Health study said a handful of plants still make the caustic soda by mixing a briny solution in electrified vats of mercury, the Chicago Tribune reported.

Corn syrup manufacturers insist their products are mercury-free, the newspaper said.

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