In the US today we are eating huge amounts of sugar. Every processed food and sugar-sweetened drink contains high-fructose corn syrup (HFCS), which is sweeter and cheaper to make. Consuming enough of it can be toxic which might cause cancer or any other diseases to us. We have to understand that it is a very dangerous artificial chemical. The chemical process to make HFCS, the naturally bonded glucose and fructose are separated. This allows the fructose to go straight to your liver. This turns the fat production in you liver on called lipogenesis, which causes diabetes, heart attacks, cancer and dementia.
Along with the large number of fructose and sugar found in HFCS it contains other chemical toxins. During the chemical manufacturing other chemicals end up in HFCS and in our foods. HFCS is created in a corn wet-milling process, which is made with a chlor-alkali process. The scary part about this process is that it uses liquid mercury. Studies, which tested various HFCS products, found that there were indeed traces of mercury in these products. It may not be a problem if we eat this occasionally, but the average person in the country consumes more than 20 teaspoons a day of high fructose corn syrup and the average teenager has 34 teaspoons a day. Mercury is a toxic heavy metal. The American Academy of Pediatrics says mercury also is a “ubiquitous environmental toxin that causes a wide range of adverse health effects in humans. Three forms of mercury (elemental, inorganic, and organic) exist, and each has its own profile of toxicity. (Goldman)”
The developing fetus and young children are thought to be extremely impacted by mercury exposure because many aspects of development, particularly brain maturation, can be disturbed by mercury’s presence. Across the population, pregnant women are already exposed to sufficient environmental mercury. This puts hundreds of thousands of their future children at risk, which result in reduced IQ or problems with learning. The Institute of Agricultural Trade Policy says “if high fructose corn syrup (HFCS) too is contaminated with mercury, it represents an additional source of mercury exposure in an ingredient that is nearly ubiquitous in the modern diet, and one that is completely unnecessary.” Over time, these heavy metals can accumulate in the body, causing health problems.
Even though HFCS is made from corn, the corn is genetically modified. Farmers now depend on corporation to buy hybrid corn. Pollan says “farmers now had to buy new seeds every spring; instead of depending upon their plants to reproduce themselves, they now depended on a corporation. (31)” Moreover corn absorbs chemical fertilizers, pesticide and weed killers when it grow up. “By the 1970s the process of refining corn into fructose had been perfected, and HFCS – which is a blend of 55 percent fructose and 45 percent glucose that tastes exactly as sweet as. (Pollan 89)” HFCS became a cheap domestic substitute for cane sugar and replaced all of them from processed foods:
Read the food labels in your kitchen and you’ll find that HFCS has insinuated itself into very corner of the pantry: not just into our soft drinks and snack foods, where you would expect to find it, but into the ketchup and mustard, the breads and cereals, the relishes and crackers, the hot dogs and hams. (Pollan 104)
Now, we can find HFCS anywhere even in the daily products. Nevertheless, the companies do not reduce the price. Even though food industry uses cheap HFCS, they fix the price and sell more and more processed foods by serving super-sized products. Therefore we are consuming great number of HFCS by osmosis. “In 1978, the typical teenage boy in the United States drank about seven ounces of soda every day; today he drinks nearly three times that amount, deriving 9 percent of his daily caloric intake from soft drinks. (Schlosser 54)” As a result, the number of people with obesity and diabetes continues to rise because of the increase of intake of HFCS. We have to be aware of the danger of HFCS and avoid it by avoiding processed foods as much as possible.
There are chemicals not only HFCS but also ”artificial flavor” in processed foods. We have to notice how artificial flavors are used in our food. For instance, McDonald’s uses beef tallow to season their food, such as French fries and chicken nuggets. Due to criticism, they began to label it as “natural beef flavor”. But, there is no difference between “Natural flavor” and “artificial flavor”. “Natural flavor” might contain chemicals or hidden ingredients. Schlosser alerts “natural flavors and artificial flavors sometimes contain exactly the same chemicals, produced through different methods. (126)” Thus we can consider that all processed foods must contain chemicals.
“Approximately ten thousand new processed food products are introduced every year in the United States. Almost all of them require flavor additives. (Schlosser 124)” We cannot know what the inside of processed foods, like Coca-Cola is heavily guarded components of the secret formula. “The Food and Drug Administration does not require flavor companies to disclose the ingredients of their additives, so long as all the chemicals are considered by the agency to be GRAS (Generally Regarded As Safe). (Schlosser 125)” Thereupon, consuming processed foods increase the amount of intake of chemicals in our body.