SAN FRANCISCO–Recently published studies citing mercury contamination of high fructose corn syrup offered by the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy, (“Not So Sweet: Missing Mercury and High Fructose Corn Syrup,”) and Environmental Health (“Mercury from chlor-alkali plants: measured concentrations in food product sugar,” Dufault et al, 2009) may not hold up to scientific scrutiny says ChemRisk, Inc.
The Corn Refiners Association asked the consulting firm, which specializes in human and ecological risk assessment and risk analysis of pharmaceuticals and medical devices, to look at the studies in question. ChemRisk reported, that among other factors:
- The IATP report and Environmental Health article it references fall well below standards for proper scientific research and published literature.
- The authors of both publications provide incomplete data and misleading conclusions.
- Methods described by the authors deviate from standard procedure in testing for mercury.
- The authors ignore important distinctions between organic and other forms of mercury and their implications for assessing human health risk.
- Even if it were assumed that the mercury content found in the extremely limited sampling of foods and beverages was representative, the amounts are far lower than levels of concern set by government agencies. (The average concentration for the 17 samples with detectable levels was only 128 parts per trillion. EPA sets limits for mercury in drinking water at two parts per billion.)
- The authors assume that the total mercury they detected in a questionably small sampling of consumer foods is primarily the result of high fructose corn syrup; an assumption that has not been properly tested or validated. The recipes for the items studied may have had multiple sources of potential contamination.
Because of this, the report stated “To imply that there is a safety concern to consumers based on the findings presented is both incorrect and irresponsible.”