1. When we lived in Iowa many years ago, we lived in a town that had a corn syrup processing plant. There is no more vile smell than that of corn being processed into syrup. None. Toxic diapers from my children, feedlots, nothing tops a corn syrup processing plant. I can still sense that smell in the back of my sinuses, and it’s been 12 years since we left. Hideous.

  2. great post, thanks for this! i’ve cut back on HFCS in the past year to very little. now i am going to try for none.

  3. This is so scary. Especially being pregnant and with young children in the house! Homesteading sounds better and better everyday.

  4. I used to do a “HFCS Scorecard” post semi-regularly.

    You also need to watch out for other names. I used to drink Gatorade, naively thinking, “fructose glucose syrup.. that’s not HFCS.”

  5. After reading “The Omnivore’s Dilemma”, I can never look at corn the same way again. I am already trying to cut down on packaged foods, but this is just one more reason. It’s also one more reason to be glad I’m breastfeeding. ;-)

  6. “The EPA has determined that mercuric chloride and methylmercury are possible human carcinogens.”
    Oh great! Just like as caffeine!

  7. I use Baby’s Only Organic formula (to supplement my low milk supply) which uses organic brown rice syrup – its the only one I found without HFCS!

  8. Well put. About 5 years ago I worked with a woman who had weekly dialysis for toxic metal poisoning. They had no idea where she got the poisoning from and the levels wer such that they would not be toxic to everyone. Unfortunately she had some sort o condition that made her more susceptible than the average person. Her office was filled with HFCS laden snacks and beverages, in fact she lived on the stuff…and this news sure makes me wonder how much she consumed…

  9. Great article Amy! Thanks so much for helping spread the word.

  10. Super article!
    What I find equally questionable is how each study (about anything) always finds that a certain ingredient is safe in “moderation.” Who is taking into account the cumulative effects of multiple toxins in our systems? Just another example of studying parts and not the whole.
    Go for “whole” as much as possible and we’ll be OK. Stumbled!!

  11. I don’t understand how any infant formula can be sweetened, as it is the nastiest tasting stuff in the world (this from a breastfeeding failure who used it with four babies).

    I wonder how much is in say, a granola bar as opposed to a tuna sandwich. Which I also do not let my children consume.

  12. Thanks for linking to Nature’s Child, Amy!

    This news has *got* to keep moving around. I’ve had my own personal war with the FDA, and I feel like this is one more chance to prove to the public that they will protect us. Failed again! argh.

    I’m linking back to you!

  13. great post, Amy. this is one reason why so much of what we eat now is made from scratch. sure, it takes more time and energy to do it… but when i think about the stuff that was going into our bodies just from things like cookies & bread bought at the store… eek.

  14. Isn’t it funny how we can be inundated with medication advertising (especially those promising a low incidence of sexual side effects), but yet this stuff sits on our shelves with very limited testing. I know, the meds get minimum testing these days too.

    It feels like David against Goliath. These companies have so much money, so much power. And they’re poisoning us.

    I still think autism has its roots in all this crap we’re putting in our bodies. Or a combination of all things–plastic, HFCS, pollution, global warming…

    Great topic. Well said. Keep on swinging that slingshot!

  15. I work with the Corn Refiners Association and want to point out a serious inaccuracy in the study that came out in Environmental Health that reports high fructose corn syrup contains mercury. The study appears to be based on outdated information since the corn industry has used mercury-free versions of the two re-agents mentioned in the study for several years. It’s important that Americans know that high fructose corn syrup is safe and high fructose corn syrup meets the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s requirements for the use of the term “natural.” Here’s a link to the statement by the Corn Refiners Association on the topic.

    FT – On behalf of the Corn Refiner’s Association

  16. Good info, Amy. HFCS is not common in Europe, we still like our sugar too much :) But to be honest, I’d rather eat sugar any day!

    I had a look at the wikipedia article on HFCS and the closest we have is called isoglucose or glucose-fructose (although they are not always made from corn) in Europe but isoglucose is subject to a strict production quota therefore is not a popular ingredient.

    I must say though it is the one thing we notice whenever we’re in the States, how sweet everything is, even the bread! But baby formula?? that is a shocking abuse of consumers and babies, how can a baby eat something in moderation if it is their only food? Madness.

  17. it’s so hard to keep clear of HFCS. I’ve read Omnivore’s Dilemma, and haven’t drunk/eaten anything with HFCS in it, but at the same time, I’ve been spending soo much more time reading labels, and getting disappointed, b/c so many of what I would have bought includes it…
    I usually don’t buy anything that’s processed, try to cook myself. but it’s still so disappointing.

  18. Great post and thanks for the mention! I think that these articles raise SO many questions. Is regular corn syrup contain mercury as well? I would love to know that because as prominent as HFCS is, regular corn syrup (which is mainly glucose and not as processed as HFCS) is in a whole lot more foods.

    HFCS is in a lot of foods, but once you commit yourself to avoiding it, you realize that there are still so many HFCS-free options out there – and more every day! More and more companies are realizing that it’s a great marketing tool to take HFCS out of their food and are proudly proclaiming “High Fructose Corn Syrup Free” on their labels (like Orowheat and Bullseye BBQ). The more we demand HFCS-free foods, and I think perhaps especially after this scandal, the more HFCS-free options we will see!

  19. YIKES — I keep reading more and more scary stuff. I did a post about this too and a vlog the other day. SCARY!


  20. thank you soo much for this post! as a mum who had to go onto formula due to my child’s medical condition, I am investigating the ingrediants as we speak!

  21. oy vey. it just goes on and on…..

    i sat today with someone who works for the FDA. i’m reading “animal, vegetable, miracle” so i asked her about it, if she’d heard of it or read it. she said she hadn’t but that she feels like “grow your own” and “make your own” folks end up with more problems because she feels that the food supply is so “well-regulated.” she seemed like a very nice lady and it was a party so i didn’t make a case, but i find it really really really hard to believe with everything that i’ve read and seen.

  22. A couple of years ago when I was pregnant with my son I was diagnosed with erratic, high blood sugar. Through frequent finger-prick testing we determined that it was not true gestational diabetes, but rather high blood sugars caused by medication I must take (prednisone) as well as exposure to a particular “food”: HFCS. I could eat ice cream, bread, pasta, and potatoes to my stomach’s content, but I could not even consume a single jellybean with HFCS without sending my blood sugar sky high. I have avoided HFCS like the plague ever since.

  23. I saw this news article, but thank you for putting this all together for me :) We avoid HFCS whenever we can, but this news will make me even more diligent. And one more reason to breastfeed!

  24. Are your freakin’ serious? The nastys just keep coming and coming.

    Thanks for the information!

  25. Trust me, I’m no fan of High fructose corn syrup on ANY level. But the Washington Post article is concerning in that many important facts were left out.

    HFCS is made with caustic soda. Caustic soda is Sodium Hydroxide and is also used to make soap. The method by which this chemical is made could include mercury cells. The method is specifically called castner-kellner process. If you look it up, it could provide a bit more information. The percentage of mercury that would stay with the soda is seems small for the chemical reaction. It’s the waste or by product that would be contaminated with mercury. NOT the caustic soda that is used to make HFCS. That doesn’t mean that would shouldn’t hit those plants hard for clean up but the HFCS does not contain the mercury. The other important point is that this process is not used nearly as much as it used to be. Perhaps I’ll try to make all this a bit more understandable in a blog post. I’ll make note here when the post is ready. Thanks Amy for the post as it reminded me to dig deeper on this issue.

  26. We’re working on putting together a list of responses to the arguments against the study and report; I’ll link to them when they are complete. But, regarding a couple that have been posted here, I’d like to make some comments.

    1) The Corn Refiner’s Association hired a consulting firm to assess the mercury study and report. No big surprise – the author, Dennis Paustenbach, http://www.sourcewatch.org/index.php?title=Dennis_Paustenbach
    refutes just about every word. And, in case you couldn’t guess, he and the firm have represented industry for decades making piles of money from the likes of Exxon and Monsanto.

    2) FT (from the Corn Refiner’s Association) claims the study is outdated and they don’t use these ingredients anymore. If so, when did you stop? Were you aware that you were using mercury contaminated ingredients when you applied for GRAS certification? Why would you ever even consider using mercury-grade ingredients in a food product?? If you have more recent studies showing your product does not contain mercury, we’d all love to see them.

    3) RE: Regina. You’re correct that the waste by-products of mercury cells is much more significant than the residue in the caustic soda, but there is a residue nonetheless. The chlor-alkali industry openly admits that any product processed using mercury cells will have a small amount of contamination. I don’t know why you’re saying the HFCS does not contain mercury when these two studies did indeed find mercury contamination. Finally, you are correct that this method is not used as much as it used to be – there are only four plants remaining in the US – but, we rely on a global food system. So, if HFCS manufacturers import caustic soda, unless they are explicit that it has not come from a plant using mercury-cells, we could still potentially have a contaminated food supply.

    I will post a link to a full list of FAQs very soon.

  27. Seen all this. Believe it and all, but…why do I care? Have there been any reported deaths from HFCS? Are we not living longer than ever? (Barring the original Adam and those types…)

  28. Is Glucose Syrup the same?

  29. Very well posted. I would like to add, concerning the comment that said that HFCS did not contain mercury, it’s not a bad thing to avoid anyway, Don’t get me wrong, I love corn in it’s natural state but it’s everywhere. Any animal in these united states is fed corn whether or not it is it’s natural diet or not (guess what, not) which causes the big business’ running the cattle and poultry farms to stoop to hormones and antibiotics to keep their animals from getting sick because they are not giving them the proper feed, which in turn hurts our health. Then there’s big agriculture making a huge profit from all the farms growing corn and not cultivating more species of plants and necessary biodiversity that will be lost forever if all we ever grow is corn. Not to mention biofuels that take more energy than they produce to get them to market. Then there’s childhood obesity, I wonder where that comes from, could it be corn syrup? There are many reasons to avoid the stuff in many forms to send the message, stop the monopoly on corn. We choose health.

  30. How is brown rice syrup made? Is there any chance this may also contain mercury? Is brown rice syrup made in the U.S.? It is in products I’ve bought at the health food store, but i am just wondering if it is safe. My son is autistic. When he was first diagnosed I read so much online about mercury being a cause of autisim, so we no longer eat HFCS after reading about it containing mercury.

  31. What baby formula does NOT contain HFCS? My daughter lost her milk supply (stress-related) and must feed her baby with formula. At 4 months, the baby is in the 96% for weight at almost 18 pounds. She is very concerned. Any help?

  32. okay, like mercury’s not bad enough, but what about gmo’s, folks? isn’t that reason enough to stay away from one of the top gmo crops, corn?

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