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Heat Forms Potentially Harmful Substance In High-fructose Corn Syrup, Bee Study Finds

Date:
August 27, 2009
Source:
American Chemical Society
Summary:
Researchers have established the conditions that foster formation of potentially dangerous levels of a toxic substance in the high-fructose corn syrup (HFCS) that is often fed to honey bees. Their study may also have implications for soft drinks and dozens of other human foods that contain HFCS. The substance, hydroxymethylfurfural, forms mainly from heating fructose.

A new study shows that heat can produce a potentially toxic substance in high-fructose corn syrup that may kill honeybees.
Credit: Wikimedia Commons

Researchers have established the conditions that foster formation of potentially dangerous levels of a toxic substance in the high-fructose corn syrup (HFCS) that is often fed to honey bees. Their study, which appears in the current issue of ACS' bi-weekly Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, may also have implications for soft drinks and dozens of other human foods that contain HFCS. The substance, hydroxymethylfurfural (HMF), forms mainly from heating fructose.

In the new study, Blaise LeBlanc and Gillian Eggleston and colleagues note HFCS's ubiquitous usage as a sweetener in beverages and processed foods. Some commercial beekeepers also feed it to bees to increase reproduction and honey production. When exposed to warm temperatures, HFCS can form HMF and kill honeybees. Some researchers believe that HMF may be a factor in Colony Collapse Disorder, a mysterious disease that has killed at least one-third of the honeybee population in the United States.

The scientists measured levels of HMF in HFCS products from different manufacturers over a period of 35 days at different temperatures. As temperatures rose, levels of HMF increased steadily. Levels jumped dramatically at about 120 degrees Fahrenheit.

"The data are important for commercial beekeepers, for manufacturers of HFCS, and for purposes of food storage. Because HFCS is incorporated as a sweetener in many processed foods, the data from this study are important for human health as well," the report states. It adds that studies have linked HMF to DNA damage in humans. In addition, HMF breaks down in the body to other substances potentially more harmful than HMF.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by American Chemical Society. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. LeBlanc et al. Formation of Hydroxymethylfurfural in Domestic High-Fructose Corn Syrup and Its Toxicity to the Honey Bee (Apis mellifera). Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, 2009; 57 (16): 7369 DOI: 10.1021/jf9014526

Cite This Page:

American Chemical Society. "Heat Forms Potentially Harmful Substance In High-fructose Corn Syrup, Bee Study Finds." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 27 August 2009. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/08/090826110118.htm>.
American Chemical Society. (2009, August 27). Heat Forms Potentially Harmful Substance In High-fructose Corn Syrup, Bee Study Finds. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 28, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/08/090826110118.htm
American Chemical Society. "Heat Forms Potentially Harmful Substance In High-fructose Corn Syrup, Bee Study Finds." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/08/090826110118.htm (accessed July 28, 2014).

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