Smackdown Green - Our Daily Green

Friday, September 24, 2010

Smackdown Green

The more I thought about it, the more I realized that I have more to say to the manufacturers of CORN SUGAR, the modified food formerly known as High Fructose Corn Syrup/HFCS.  I need the help of all my readers and friends on this one, help me make this post go viral and maybe we can get some answers.

Last year, I wrote an article for The Examiner and I received this email from none other than Audrae Erickson, the president of the Corn Refiners Association. I felt like I had truly arrived to receive such high profile attention for my article.

September 2, 2009

Kimberly Urig
Cleveland Green Parenting Examiner

Dear Ms. Urig:

We read the September 2 article “Elevated mercury levels found in one in three women,” with interest.  We would like to provide you with science-based information concerning high fructose corn syrup and alleged mercury findings and be a reference for you for future articles.

No mercury or mercury-based technology is used in the production of high fructose corn syrup in North America.

Safety is the highest priority for our industry, which is why we immediately commissioned external testing as well as independent expert review of claims concerning mercury and our corn sweetener.

Woodhall Stopford, MD, MSPH, of Duke University Medical Center, one of the nation’s leading experts in mercury contamination, reviewed the results of total mercury testing of samples of high fructose corn syrup conducted by Eurofins Central Analytical Laboratory (Metairie, LA) in February and March 2009. Dr. Stopford concluded:

  • No quantifiable mercury was detected in any of the samples analyzed.
  • High fructose corn syrup does not appear to be a measurable contributor to mercury in foods.
In his summary of findings, Dr. Stopford stated, “Mercury is ubiquitous in the environment being generated both by man-made activities (such as coal-fired power plants) and by natural phenomenon (such as volcanoes). Mercury is found naturally in all living things, including all categories of foods and beverages. Levels in foods and beverages have dropped significantly in the last 40 years. The introduction of high fructose corn syrup as a sweetener has not been associated with any noticeable difference in mercury levels in foods and beverages containing high fructose corn syrup. Levels of mercury found in such foods and beverages are what would be expected from mercury found normally in such foods and beverages and are at background levels.”

Dr. Stopford’s analysis and conclusions are attached.

In 1983, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration formally listed high fructose corn syrup as safe for use in food and reaffirmed that decision in 1996.
To read the latest research and learn more about high fructose corn syrup, please visit  Please feel free to contact me if you would like additional information about the products made from corn.

Thank you for your consideration,

Audrae Erickson
Corn Refiners Association
Washington, DC

I responded to her letter with this:  

Dear Audrae,
Thank you for contacting me and adding your input to my article. I personally remain a skeptic. I don't understand why if HFCS is so great, economical, and safe... WHY can't I, a typical average consumer, purchase it at a store?
Why can't the public use it as an ingredient in their own cooking? Do you use it when you cook at home? Is it in your pantry? When I am able to purchase it as a stand alone ingredient and see/feel/touch/taste it on its own... I will trust it.
I respect that you've shared your information with me. I just don't feel that there is anything healthy about a diet that contains large amounts of HFCS.
Thank you for your vigilance. I do respect that you also have a job to do.
Kim Urig

I have yet to receive a reply. I think I've been patient enough. My request to the manufacturers of CORN SUGAR is for a home use sample as well as a few recipes to test in my personal kitchen. I will report back the results of using this product that is "just the same as sugar" and if I am satisfied, I vow to never write another negative word about CORN SUGAR. (see that just rolls off the tongue, while tasting just as sweet).

Can you help me make this request heard? Can we go viral? Would you link this to your social media accounts like Twitter and Facebook? Would you repost this link on your own blog? Anything you can do to help get the attention of the corn refiners will help.

Thanks in advance.



Small Footprints said...

You are my new hero! Yay!

I find it totally despicable that campaigns are appearing to convince us that HFCS is safe and natural.

Thanks for this post and ... I'm sending it on. Also going to follow you! :)

FreshGreenKim said...

Thank you for visiting! I am dying to see the outcome of this challenge. If nothing else it will generate a different sort of perspective on the CORN SUGAR discussion... WHY can't we buy it for home use?

Will said...

Hi Kim,

Hallo Kim,

I've dugg, stumbled , fb-ed & tweeted this article & hope it helps in some small way. In any case, I hope you get some proper sort of response soon - it's really unbelievable that someone who writes "Please feel free to contact me if you would like additional information about the products made from corn" ... then ignores your response.

Please let me know if you hear anything ...

Best wishes from Hamburg


FreshGreenKim said...

Will, I do appreciate your help! It will be interesting to see the response if any.

Anonymous said...

Did you notice who Tom Philpott lists as one of the villains of our American food system?

FreshGreenKim said...

Not only is she a villian of food, she's a terrible penpal! (STILL no word...)

Mom101 said...

Ms. Erickson's assertions, and the results of the study that the CRA commissioned are disputed by several independent groups.

So whether it's trace or not, the fact remains that there is perfectly avoidable mercury in common foods, that wouldn't be there if an alternate sweetener were used.

I wish that the CRA, instead of trying to refute the data, would spend their time trying to correct the problem.

FreshGreenKim said...

Mom101, thank you so much for your input... I found it funny last year when I had written SO many other articles and posts about HFCS and the mercury one was the only one that ever got the comment (when HFCS was such a minor part of the actual story).

Anyway, I find their entire campaign very evasive when asked directly to provide an answer. Not surprising. The real answers aren't anything they want us to know.