Press Releases

HFCS Mercury Study Flawed

High Fructose Corn Syrup Mercury Study Seriously Flawed and Outdated
Fails to Meet Standards for Scientific Research

February 3, 2009
CONTACT: Audrae Erickson, President
(202) 331-1634

WASHINGTON, DC – The Corn Refiners Association (CRA) provided an expanded response, following up on its earlier statement about an article released in Environmental Health on January 26 and an unpublished editorial report by the advocacy group Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy (IATP; also a co-author of the journal article), which asserts that limited tests found a measurable level of mercury in foods containing high fructose corn syrup and high fructose corn syrup samples from early 2005.

“The article’s authors and IATP engage in unfounded claims and speculations based on scant data of questionable quality. High fructose corn syrup is safe for use in foods and beverages. To imply that there is a safety concern based on this incomplete and flawed report is irresponsible,” stated Audrae Erickson, President of the Corn Refiners Association.

“The article and the report are based on outdated information of dubious significance,” Erickson added. “Americans should know that no mercury or mercury-based technology is used in the production of high fructose corn syrup in North America.”

“It is important to put these questionable findings into context. Trace amounts of mercury can be found in the air, water, soil, and many other foods. The authors admit that they cannot determine the source of the mercury cited in the report.”

“Equally important,” noted Erickson, “the amounts of mercury the authors and IATP purport to have found in food products containing high fructose corn syrup are far below levels of concern set by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and the Environmental Protection Agency. Specifically, EPA sets limits for mercury in drinking water at two parts per billion. In comparison, the IATP authors claim to have found levels at parts per trillion in only 2 of 19 beverages with high fructose corn syrup – at levels one-hundred times below the EPA limit of concern. All the other samples were devoid of detectable levels. ” Erickson said.

“The IATP report and the journal article it references fail to meet scientific standards for serious research and published literature,” according to Erickson.

Over twenty five years ago, the FDA formally listed high fructose corn syrup as safe for use in food. That decision was reaffirmed more than a decade ago. High fructose corn syrup contains no artificial or synthetic ingredients or color additives and meets FDA’s requirements for the use of the term ‘natural.’

“For more than 150 years, our industry has been perfecting the process of refining corn to make safe ingredients for the American food supply,” Erickson stated.

Related Information: ChemRisk, Inc., a scientific consulting firm, examined the recent report by the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy (IATP), “Not So Sweet: Missing Mercury and High Fructose Corn Syrup,” and the Environmental Health journal report “Mercury from chlor-alkali plants: measured concentrations in food product sugar,” by Dufault et. al., 2009. Read the full analysis.


CRA is the national trade association representing the corn refining (wet milling) industry of the United States. CRA and its predecessors have served this important segment of American agribusiness since 1913. Corn refiners manufacture sweeteners, ethanol, starch, bioproducts, corn oil, and feed products from corn components such as starch, oil, protein, and fiber.

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