High fructose corn syrup. Image from the Modern Forager.
About ten years ago, I read a book called NEWTON'S MADNESS: FURTHER TALES OF CLINICAL NEUROLOGY. It traces disorders and diseases in history. There's a bit about Dostoyevski's epilepsy and Newton's mercury-caused madness.
Mercury and madness.
I was looking at this book for a book club idea when I read a new study this week about mercury in high fructose corn syrup (HFCS).
Mercury and high fructose corn syrup ... it's madness.
According to a new article in the journal, Environmental Health, mercury was found in nearly 50 percent of tested samples of commercial HFCS. Another study by the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy (IATP) detected mercury in almost one-third of 55 popular brandname food and beverage products where HFCS is the first or second highest labeled ingredient.
This means food produced by brands like - Quaker, Hershey’s, Kraft and Smucker’s. And the studies state that the average American eats about 12 teaspoons of HFCS a day. IATP’s David Wallinga, M.D., and a co-author in both studies says:
“Mercury is toxic in all its forms. Given how much high fructose corn syrup is consumed by children, it could be a significant additional source of mercury never before considered. We are
calling for immediate changes by industry and the FDA to help stop this avoidable
mercury contamination of the food supply.” More.
There's a push to chastise parents who suggest that vaccines and diet increase the risk of neurological spectrum disorders. But these studies would certainly indicate that what we're putting in our bodies and our childrens' bodies is and can affect health, growth and development.
What says the Corn Refiner's Association? Of course, they challenge the studies:
“This study appears to be based on outdated information of dubious significance. Our industry has used mercury-free versions of the two re-agents mentioned in the study, hydrochloric acid and caustic soda, for several years. These mercury-free re-agents perform important functions, including adjusting pH balances,” stated Audrae Erickson, President, Corn Refiners Association. “For more than 150 years, corn wet millers have been perfecting the process of refining corn to make safe ingredients for the American food supply.” More.We're approaching our one-year Fresh Mouth anniversary. One year since we removed HFCS from our diet. There have been slips and instances out of our control when we ate it, but our goal is to eliminate it from our diet and avoid purchasing products with the ingredient. If ever there was a reason to remove an element from a diet, this would be a good one.
Nugget o' the Moment: "The American Academy of Pediatrics has recommended that minimizing any form of mercury exposure is essential for optimal child health and nervous system development. Current international food processing standards allow 1.0 μg mercury/g caustic soda and there is no standard for mercury in food grade hydrochloric acid." - from this week's study, "Mercury from chlor-alkali plants: measured concentrations in food productsugar."