Dismiss Notice
Join Physics Forums Today!
The friendliest, high quality science and math community on the planet! Everyone who loves science is here!

High fructuse corn syrup contains mercury.

  1. Jan 27, 2009 #1


    User Avatar


    This is pretty scary. USDA should be looking into this immediately.
  2. jcsd
  3. Jan 27, 2009 #2


    User Avatar

    Staff: Mentor

    It is alarmism by a group with an adjenda (responsible for both studies), so I wouldn't worry about it. The maximum concentration found (in 20 samples) was .57 ppm (by mass, actually...) in HFCS. A 355 g (12 oz) can of soda contains about 42 g of HFCS, so that's .06 ppm (by mass). There are no limits for soda, but by comparison, the FDA limit for mercury in seafood is 1 ppm. http://www.atsdr.cdc.gov/tfacts46.html#bookmark10

    Put another way, a can of soda at the worst concentration they saw would have 24 micrograms of mercury in it.

    Reference doeses vary, though: http://www.mercuryanswers.org/resource-GovAgencies.pdf [Broken]

    It really annoys me that major media outlets don't have science advisors who can help them filter this stuff. All they did here was report what the scaremongers fed to them, without even checking to see what it really meant, much less if it had any merit.
    Last edited by a moderator: May 3, 2017
  4. Jan 27, 2009 #3
    Mercury like other heavy metals accumulates in the body. Even small amounts can add up over time. There should be *NO* mercury in corn sweetener.
  5. Jan 27, 2009 #4


    User Avatar

    Staff: Mentor

    It isn't possible for there to be no mercury in anything. With enough sensitivity, you'll find it everywhere.
    Last edited: Jan 27, 2009
  6. Jan 27, 2009 #5

    HFCS is used in numerous consumer food products including children's snack foods.
  7. Jan 27, 2009 #6
    How many corn syrup soft drinks would I have to ingest to equal the mercury in my ~8 amalgam dental fillings?

    My estimate: 2 million corn syrup soft drinks, if each filling contains .1 gram of mercury.

    There are probably many "foods" more culpable than corn syrup, and there is always a trace of heavy metals in what we ingest.
  8. Jan 27, 2009 #7
    It seems ironic that feeding corn syrup to children leads to cavities, however. :frown:
  9. Jan 27, 2009 #8
  10. Jan 27, 2009 #9

    So send your kids out to chew on some toys coated with lead based paint. It is also sweet to the taste.
  11. Jan 27, 2009 #10
    So we should knowingly put it in our food. :rolleyes:
  12. Jan 27, 2009 #11
    I think you're right, edward - it would be simple and advisable to stop this hierarchy where it still exists.
  13. Jan 28, 2009 #12


    User Avatar

    Staff: Mentor

    Obviously, that doesn't follow from what either you or I said.
  14. Jan 28, 2009 #13

    Vanadium 50

    User Avatar
    Staff Emeritus
    Science Advisor
    Education Advisor
    2017 Award

    There is very little biological uptake of mercury from amalgam fillings. That doesn't mean that it's risk free - in fact, the people who have the highest exposure are dentists!
  15. Jan 28, 2009 #14
    Brazil nuts contain a small amount of radium, too, provided you don't eat several bags at once though you aren't going to be at significant risk.
  16. Jan 28, 2009 #15
    This is a perfect example of how absurdly skewed is the perception of risk. Here we're up in arms over ppb traces of mercury contaminating a substance which is itself responsible for untold millions of deaths and perhaps trillions in health care costs. What is the obesity rate in the US? What is the diabetes rate? What is the rate of high blood pressure, heart problems? All of which are toxic effects of excessive consumption of simple sugars like fructose, which the US diet is marinated in? And for comparison, what is the incidence of all heavy metal toxicity put together?

    The real catastrophe is that food is contaminated with high-fructose corn syrup, and not just at ppb levels.

    Coming up next week: do bullets contain potentially dangerous amounts of the toxic chemical lead? CNN investigates.
    Last edited: Jan 28, 2009
  17. Jan 28, 2009 #16
    They also have comparable levels (in terms of activity) of potassium-40.


    I'm not sure why they selectively uptake so much radium - none of the other foods have the same order of magnitude as brazil nuts. Could be interesting chemistry there.
  18. Jan 28, 2009 #17
    Apparently it's due to their extensive root system.
  19. Jan 28, 2009 #18

    Chi Meson

    User Avatar
    Science Advisor
    Homework Helper

    That would be a problem for the three or four people in this country who like Brazil nuts. AFAIK, and IIRC, and I think I do, all jars of mixed nuts end up as 100% Brazil nuts, then you throw the jar away.
  20. Jan 28, 2009 #19
    I love Brazil nuts myself. They're quite good for you as well provided you don't OD on them.
  21. Jan 28, 2009 #20
    It appears that many of the same people who claimed there was no problem with lead paint on toys are also jumping on this issue as being insignificant. Since when is a toxic substance in food insignificant??


    The words in bold seem to follow a disturbing pattern. Notice that the first FDA study was done in 2005. Yet nothing was disclosed to the public until the appearance of the the studies in Environmental Health a peer reviewed journal

    Industries' point of view is that the studies are out dated. They may be out dated now but they were not when the FDA first saw them in 2005.

    Industry has been changing their methods or producing the chemicals used in processing HFSC. WHY? If there was no problem why are they changing to a non mercury process?
    Their own statements condemn them as they try to side step the issue.

    http://www.istockanalyst.com/article/viewiStockNews/articleid/2983740 [Broken]

    What the levels of mercury were in HFCS before the corn industry started to change the process will never be known. The number of food products containing mercury contaminated HFCS when all industrial methods used the mercury process will also be unknown.

    I have a gut feeling that people who have children who have been diagnosed as being autistic since HFCS has been widely used are going to be very outraged.
    Last edited by a moderator: May 3, 2017
Know someone interested in this topic? Share this thread via Reddit, Google+, Twitter, or Facebook