Scientific evidence: Menu bowls release aluminum onto food
Experts repeatedly point out that aluminum foil should not be used for acidic and salty foods. This allows components of the metal to be released into the food. Ready meals made from aluminum shells can also have high aluminum contents.
High aluminum contents in ready meals from menu trays
The advice not to grill sour and salty foods in aluminum is one of the most common tips at the beginning of the barbecue season. Because the aluminum can pass into certain foods, as studies have shown. Ready meals made from aluminum shells can also have high aluminum contents, reports the Federal Institute for Risk Assessment (BfR).
Metal changes to food when kept warm
According to a study by the Federal Institute for Risk Assessment (BfR), dishes made from uncoated aluminum menu trays can contain high levels of aluminum.
Especially when keeping uncoated menu trays warm, the light metal changes to acidic foods. Food is often filled into such bowls hot, quickly cooled, stored in a cool place and then heated again and kept warm until consumed.
The use of such products is common for food supply in communal catering facilities such as daycare centers, schools, canteens or out-of-home catering.
"In view of the already existing contamination with aluminum in the population, the aim should be to minimize every avoidable, additional entry," said BfR President Professor Dr. Dr. Andreas Hensel in a message.
"This is especially true for sensitive consumer groups such as small children or the elderly, who under certain circumstances eat food that is kept warm in aluminum trays," says the expert.
Aluminum intake when using cosmetics
Aluminum compounds are a natural part of drinking water and many untreated foods, such as fruits and vegetables.
In addition, consumers can ingest aluminum if the cookware or aluminum foil containing aluminum is used improperly, as well as from cosmetic products such as deodorants with aluminum.
The BfR researchers have now investigated the transition of aluminum compounds from four uncoated aluminum menu dishes in sauerkraut juice, apple sauce and tomato sauce. The Council of Europe release limit value was "significantly exceeded" for all samples.
Despite the limited number of samples examined, the BfR assumes that the release of aluminum ions from the uncoated menu trays is material-specific and the results can therefore be generalized.
Poison to the nervous system
The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) recommends not consuming more than one milligram (mg) of aluminum per kilogram of body weight.
However, according to the BfR, many people swallow so much aluminum just by eating that the weekly tolerable amount is already exhausted.
An increased intake of aluminum has long been associated with the development of diseases such as breast cancer and Alzheimer's, although the data are not yet clear.
According to experts, aluminum is poison for the nervous system, fertility and unborn life. It also affects bone development.
Acidic and salty foods
The aluminum intake from food commodities, however, only makes a small contribution to the aluminum pollution of the population - an exception are acidic and salty foods that come into contact with aluminum.
EFSA also points out that the use of uncoated aluminum trays can lead to increased aluminum concentrations in ready meals.
According to the BfR measurement results, an adult would consume an additional 0.5 mg of aluminum per kilogram of body weight in a week if they consumed 200 g of acidic food from uncoated aluminum trays every day.
Reduce additional aluminum absorption
From the BfR's point of view, the probability of exceeding the value would be "significantly increased". However, this does not necessarily mean that there is a health impairment.
The BfR nevertheless recommends minimizing any additional aluminum intake. This applies above all to sensitive consumer groups such as children or the elderly, who may eat warm meals from uncoated aluminum menu trays as part of the communal or out-of-home catering.
Healthy people excrete most of the aluminum they take in with their urine. The light metal that is not excreted can accumulate in the lungs and skeletal system in the course of life. (ad)