Aluminum danger in the kitchen? How to use it without health risks

The handbook for the correct use of aluminum foil and containers. Here are some things to know and why be careful

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Aluminum is one of the most used materials in our kitchens for cooking and storing food, but not everyone knows that under certain conditions it can even become toxic. Therefore, it is important to know the product you are using and the foods it comes into contact with to make the best use of it, avoiding health risks.

Aluminum can become dangerous when used incorrectly, for example in contact with foods that are too acidic or in certain firings, because it releases particles that are absorbed by food and then ingested by man during meals.

Aluminum is a light metal, also contained in consumer products such as some deodorants, toothpastes, make-up products and drugs. By interfering with different biological processes, aluminum can induce toxic effects in different organs and systems, especially in case of accumulation in the body.

The maximum dose of aluminum that we can take without undergoing neurotoxic effects are to be calculated based on body weight. For example, a person weighing 70 kg can take a maximum of 140 mg per week, i.e. 2 milligrams for each kilogram of weight (limits established by WHO), based on a model of intake of 30mg / kg, which however does not have led to observable adverse effects.

As emerges from the data released by the Istituto Superiore di Sanità, prolonged contact at room temperature between aluminum and foods rich in salt or acids for more than 24 hours should be avoided; therefore, avoid storing acidic foods in aluminum: an example of all tomato juice, since, as mentioned, the acidity present in this food favors the solubilization of the metal.

In general, use is tolerated for up to 24 hours, however after 24 hours it is possible to store food with low extraction power at room temperature in aluminum trays, for example coffee, cereals, spices, sugar, legumes, vegetables.

The release of aluminum particles from materials in contact with food therefore depends on several factors, such as the method of use, the composition of the food, the temperature and the storage time. According to the guidelines issued by the Ministry of Health, incorrect use of aluminum in the kitchen can cause damage to health over time. In principle, to avoid them, just follow these simple tips:

  • read the label: check that the containers, trays and containers in aluminum purchased are suitable for contact with food and follow the instructions for use;
  • avoid using aluminum containers and aluminum foil for highly acidic or highly salty foods, such as lemon juice, vinegar, marinated anchovies, capers in salt, etc.
  • food can be stored in aluminum containers and in foil over 24 hours only at refrigeration or freezing temperatures;
  • dry solid foods (such as coffee, chocolate, dried fruit, spices and herbs for infusions, dried pasta, cereals, dried legumes, bread, etc.) can instead be stored at room temperature even beyond 24 hours;
  • do not reuse disposable containers;
  • do not scratch pots, pans and other containers during their use and do not clean them with abrasive products.
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