Renee Dufault

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search
Renee Dufault
Alma mater

A.T. Still University, D.H.Ed. University of Maryland M.A.

University of California Davis B.S.
Occupation Public Health Service Officer
Employer FDA, EPA, NIH
Known for



Renee Dufault is a former Food and Drug Administration researcher and whistleblower, who brought media attention to three separate studies that discovered mercury contained within High Fructose Corn Syrup. She retired from the FDA in 2008, ending a 20 year career in the Public Health Sector, in order to publish her findings on Mercury in HFCS and continue her research. After several years, Dr. Dufault and her independent research team were able to find a direct connection between inorganic mercury and glucose levels in the blood that showed dietary inorganic mercury exposure may be a risk factor in the development of diabetes [1]

Career and work in Indian Country[edit]

Renee Dufault earned her Doctorate of Health Education (D.H.Ed.) degree from A.T. Still University in Missouri, a Masters in Teaching Biology at the University of Maryland University College in Adelphi, Maryland, and a B.S. in the Environmental Sciences from the University of California Davis (UCD).[2]

In the 1970s, Dufault enlisted in the U.S. Army as a medical laboratory technician. After her enlistment was up, she used the GI Bill to complete her B.S. degree at UCD. She then served in the Navy as an Industrial Hygiene Officer before transferring to the US Public Health Service. While in the Public Health Service, she developed a training course program for tribes to survey, identify and address environmental exposure issues of concern.[3] The program was known as the Indian Country Environmental Hazard Assessment Project. For many years she taught the course online at the United Tribes Technical College.[4] There, she became interested in the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Tribal Colleges and Universities programs. , When the EPA began its Eco-Ambassadors program in 2011, Dufault worked with the Fort Peck Community College to submit a successful grant application that provided the funding for the development of an online nutrition education tutorial.[1] The tutorial was developed by Dufault and used successfully as an intervention tool for improving dietary behavior in tribal college students. It helped the students to successfully reduce their intake of highly processed foods and increase their intake of whole foods while reducing their blood glucose and inorganic mercury levels.[1][2][Smithsonian]. Dr. Dufault has remained connected to various tribes throughout her career.

During her Federal career, Dufault worked for the National Institutes of Health, the Environmental Protection Agency, Shoshone-Paiute Tribes and the Food and Drug Administration. She now works as an independent researcher and writer.


In 2004, Dufault began researching the mercury cycle on behalf of the FDA, which involved, among other things, analyzing a number of food products listing HFCS as either the first or second ingredient on the label. An EPA colleague inspired Dufault to follow up on this science because the caustic soda (lye) produced by the mercury cell chlorine industry likely contained mercury as a residue. During the course of her investigation, she found out that the biggest user of mercury cell chlorine products was the corn refining industry. In a confidential interview with a corn refiner, Dufault learned mercury cell caustic soda was used primarily by the corn refiners in their manufacturing process to lengthen the shelf life of corn syrups. Dufault enlisted the help of several colleagues inside and outside government to test whether high fructose corn syrup or products containing high fructose corn syrup contained trace amounts of mercury.[5]

While her research team initially tested only 20 samples, 45% of the samples contained trace amounts of mercury. Dufault then sent additional virgin samples of HFCS to two different laboratories, in order to independently confirm her results. Acting as third parties, the federal and academic laboratories tested and independently verified the presence of low levels of mercury in the HFCS samples and foods containing HFCS.[5][6]

In October 2005, Dufault, and her extramural academic colleagues presented their preliminary findings to the FDA’s Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition (CFSAN). At that time, Dufault was asked to halt the investigation. In 2006, Dufault attempted to publish the findings of her research on mercury levels contained within HFCS, but was denied the usage of the federal extramural data at that time.

After realizing that the FDA no longer supported her research she quit her position with the intention to make her research public.[6][7]


Dr. Dufault also developed and published a scientific model to explain the side effects of HFCS consumption called “macroepigenetics”. This model describes the dietary factors that impact gene behavior in the human body to bring about conditions of autism or ADHD. This model can be used by researchers and physicians who want to guard against these chronic developmental disorders and improve health outcomes.[6]

The model established a possible link between autism and certain environmental and dietary factors, including HFCS consumption, which has been shown to cause losses in zinc and calcium, Such losses can impair a child’s ability to flush toxic metals (such as Mercury) from his or her system, and impact the developing brain.[8][9] Since the theory of "macroepigenetics" was originally introduced by Dr. Dufault, other researchers have found additional evidence to support the model.[10]

Current work[edit]

Dufault founded the Food Ingredient and Health Research Institute, a non-profit that advocates for food ingredient safety, better food and nutrition education and research. Since her retirement, Dufault has identified two separate ways that mercury can enter high fructose corn syrup and products containing high fructose corn syrup as well as the link between mercury and chronic health conditions such as diabetes, autism and ADHD. In 2017, she identified one reason why autism impacts boys more often than girls. [11] Dr. Dufault is currently looking at food labeling requirements in other countries that warn consumers about the food ingredients that contribute to the development of ADHD and autism.[12]

Unsafe at Any Meal[edit]

Unsafe At Any Meal: What the FDA Does Not Want You to Know About the Foods You Eat, was published on May 1, 2017, by Square One Publication. The book is based on Dr. Dufault's independent research, conducted during her time with the FDA, and includes supporting studies conducted by others. She describes the process whereby various heavy metals, such as mercury and other toxic substances, can be found in trace amounts in many products commonly sold at the supermarket. She also discusses the FDA's refusal to act, provides advice on how to avoid these contaminants, and discusses the effectiveness of regulations designed to protect the public.[13]


  1. ^ a b c Tribal EcoAmbassadors. American Indian Higher Education. 2015. 
  2. ^ a b "Integrative Food Nutrition and Metabolism". Retrieved 2017-03-27. 
  3. ^ Dufault, Renee (2005). "Indian Country Environment Hazard Assessment Training Project Seeks IH Instructors and Mentors". Synergist. 
  4. ^ "Indian Country Environmental Hazard Assessment Program" (PDF). American Indian Higher Education. 
  5. ^ a b "Corn Syrup's Mercury Surprise". Mother Jones. Retrieved 2017-03-27. 
  6. ^ a b c "High Fructose Corn Syrup Meets Mercury". Washington Post. 
  7. ^ "Renee Dufault » Food Integrity Campaign". Retrieved 2017-03-27. 
  8. ^ "Autism Linked To Industrial Food Or Environment". Medical News Today. Retrieved 2017-03-27. 
  9. ^ "Study links autism with industrial food, environment | Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy". Institute for Agriculture Policy. Retrieved 2017-03-27. 
  10. ^ "A macroepigenetic approach to identify factors responsible for the autism epidemic in the United States". United States National Library of Medicine National Institute of Health. 2012-04-10. 
  11. ^ Dufault, Renee (2017-10-23). "Why Does Autism Impact Boys More Often Than Girls?". Scientific America. 
  12. ^ Dufault, Renee (2018). "Food labeling requirements may explain lower autism and ADHD prevalence in the United Kingdom" (PDF). Food Ingredient and Health Research Institute. 5(4): 1–2 – via oatext. 
  13. ^ "Unsafe at Any Meal". Publisher Weekly.