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High-Fructose Corn Syrup: Can You Stomach the Facts?
By Indy Media / filmsforaction.org
Feb 18, 2009
By Scott Starret
From our good friends at the rathaus:

It’s not the milk mustache, but high-fructose corn syrup (HFCS) is being promoted in a series of advertisements to dutifully inform the public that the cost-effective sugar substitute isn’t the bad guy we all made it out to be. These ads urge us to visit a website full of “facts” and testimonies from professionals disputing attacks on the chemically processed fructose/glucose construct. The site even goes so far as to tout the benefits of HFCS and to ensure us of the safety of its use.

In September of 2008 the Associated Press reported on these ads identifying the Corn Refiners Association as the organization urging consumers to “Get the Facts” on high-fructose corn syrup. There were two television ads and newspaper spots directing people to HFCSfacts.com.

In the commercial the actress speaks the lines, “…it’s made from corn, has the same calories as sugar and honey, and is fine in moderation,” inducing that HFCS is natural and healthy. The nice lady in the advertisement fails to recognize the reported presence of mercury in high-fructose corn syrup.




High-fructose corn syrup became wildly popular during the early seventies as a sugar substitute in a great deal of processed foods. The syrup is said to be more cost efficient and the simplicity of filling tanker trucks with the liquid makes distribution easier. HFCS has since become omnipresent in our culture, as it is found in an unbelievable number of products any of us would use including yogurt, salad dressing, bread, ketchup, granola bars, cereal, and hummus. High-fructose corn syrup has become such a staple in processed foods that the average American consumes about 12 teaspoons of it daily, according to federal estimates.

To create HFCS, hydrochloric acid and caustic sodas are used in the processing, two ingredients likely to contain mercury due to their own chemical processes. Mercury is a poisonous metal compound found to be a cause of birth disorders such as autism and is recognized as the antagonist responsible for the infamous Mad hatter disease. The IATP Food and Health Organization recently did a study that concluded a large number of products containing HFCS had notable traces of mercury. The FDA has apparently known about this since 2005, long before the ad campaign to revitalize the HFCS image was launched.

However, The Corn Refiners Association are still dismissive of the recent study results. “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,” says Audrae Erickson, President of the Corn Refiners Assocaition.

HFCS Mercury Study Outdated; Based on Discontinued Technology
(www.corn.org press release January 26)

Even if this were true, American consumers were still being fed a potentially harmful version of HFCS since the 1970’s. And essentially, the FDA and the HFCS makers chose to protect companies like Hershey, Kraft, Quaker, Smuckers, and Coca Cola instead of recalling tainted products and perhaps reexamining the entire usage of the artificial sweetener. But because HFCS is so deeply ingrained in America’s eating habits, it’s inconceivable to recall everything containing it, so obviously the cheaper alternative was to hire one of the world’s largest ad agencies to polish your public image.

The HFCS ad campaign is audacious in its willingness to repeat terms like fact and truth, and the use of sarcastic phrases that imply the general public’s ignorance to the benefits of high-fructose corn syrup. This notion is satirical unto itself, it’s as surreal as a Trans Fat Association coming up with the tag line, “Trans Fat will always have a place in your heart.”

Next time you go to the grocery store, check the ingredients just to see if the products you buy contain high-fructose corn syrup. And if they do, consider an alternative that is sweetened with natural cane sugar. Because you know what they don’t say…high-fructose corn syrup contains a toxic metal; exposure to the metal may cause impairment of the peripheral vision; may cause disturbances in sensations (”pins and needles” feelings, usually in the hands, feet, and around the mouth); may cause lack of coordination of movements; impairment of speech, hearing, walking; may cause muscle weakness; and it is not fine, even in moderation.

see a list of products found to contain mercury at WebMD

for two papers on the technical aspects of the mercury presence in HFCS visit IATP

by: Scott Starrett
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High-Fructose Corn Syrup: Can You Stomach the Facts?