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Posted Sat Aug 8 2009: from Mother Jones:
Corn Syrup's Mercury Surprise
In 2004, Renee Dufault, an environmental health researcher at the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), stumbled upon an obscure Environmental Protection Agency report on chemical plants' mercury emissions. Some chemical companies, she learned, make lye by pumping salt through large vats of mercury. Since lye is a key ingredient in making HFCS (it's used to separate corn starch from the kernel), Dufault wondered if mercury might be getting into the ubiquitous sweetener that makes up 1 out of every 10 calories Americans eat.... The corn-syrup industry claims that no HFCS manufacturers currently use mercury-grade lye, though it concedes some used to. (According to the EPA, four plants still use the technology.) It says that its own tests found no traces of mercury in HFCS samples from US manufacturers, including a number of samples from some of the same sources Dufault tested. But hundreds of foreign plants still use mercury to make lye -- which may then be used to make foods for export. Already, 11 percent of the sweeteners and candy on the US market are imported.... [A] report issued by the Minnesota-based Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy ... found low levels of mercury in 16 common food products, including certain brands of kid-favored foods, like grape jelly and chocolate milk.
[Read more stories about: toxic buildup, corporate farming, contamination, heavy metals]

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