Chicago — A swig of soda or bite of a candy bar might be sweet, but a new study suggests that food made with corn syrup also could be delivering tiny doses of toxic mercury.
For the first time, researchers say they have detected traces of the silvery metal in samples of high-fructose corn syrup, a widely used sweetener that has replaced sugar in many processed foods. The study was published Monday in the peer-reviewed journal Environmental Health.
Eating high-mercury fish is the chief source of exposure for most people. The new study raises concerns about a previously unknown dietary source of mercury, which has been linked to learning disabilities in children and heart disease in adults.
The source of the metal appears to be caustic soda and hydrochloric acid, which manufacturers of corn syrup use to help convert corn kernels into the food additive.
Corn syrup manufacturers insisted their products are mercury-free. But the study noted that at least one maker of caustic soda that has used the mercury-based technology listed the corn syrup industry as a client.