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Is It Safe to Use Aluminum Foil in Cooking?
The aim of the work was to estimate the degree of aluminum leakage from aluminum foil roll during baking process of selected food/meals. The experiment included 11 different types of food (Atlantic salmon Salmo salar, mackerel Scomber scombrus, duck breasts, cheese Hermelín, tomato, paprika, Carlsbad dumplings, pork roast, pork neck, chicken breasts, and chicken thighs) baked both marinated and not marinated. The aluminum content was measured by AAS and ICP/MS methods. The highest aluminum increase was observed in the samples of marinated Salmo salar (41.86 ± 0.56 mg/kg), Scomber scombrus (49.34 ± 0.44 mg/kg), and duck breast (117.26 ± 1.37 g/kg). The research was also supported by the survey that consisted of 784 respondents with different sociodemographic characteristics. The study clearly showed the occurrence of aluminum contamination of food when it is prepared by baking in aluminum foil. It cannot be concluded that aluminum leakage will occur with each type of food. The aluminum contents found among investigated samples are not alarming, though the increase was measured up to 40 times. On the other hand, revealed aluminum contents can represent a risk for younger/smaller children and for individuals with diagnosed certain ailments.
If you’re baking fish, roasting vegetables or preparing a piece of meat for dinner tonight, chances are that you’ll wrap your food in aluminium foil. What you may not realise is that some of the foil will leach into your meal – and this could be bad for your health.
Research that I conducted with a group of colleagues has explored the use of aluminium for cooking and preparing food. Aluminium doesn’t just appear in foil: it is the most popular cookware material used by people in developing countries. Pots and pans are lined with it and it is found in some kitchen utensils like large serving spoons. Copper used to fulfil this role, but over time it’s been replaced by aluminium because it is cheaper to mass produce and easier to clean.
But while cooking your food in aluminium pots or pans isn’t a bad thing, placing it in foil and putting it in the oven is problematic. This is especially true with acidic or spicy food that’s prepared at high temperatures.
Aluminium and health
Human bodies can excrete small amounts of aluminium very efficiently. This means that minimal exposure to aluminium is not a problem: the World Health Organisation has established a safe daily intake of 40mg per kilogram of body weight per day. So for a person who weighs 60kg the allowable intake would be 2400 mg.
But most people are exposed to and ingest far more than this suggested safe daily intake. Aluminium is present in corn, yellow cheese, salt, herbs, spices and tea. It’s used in cooking utensils, as described above, as well as in pharmacological agents like antacids and antiperspirants. Aluminium sulfate, which is derived from aluminium, is used as a coagulant during the purification process of drinking water.