In a series of three articles published on April 12, 2017 in the peer-reviewed journal Environmental Sciences Europe, Thorsten Stahl and colleagues from the Hessian State Laboratory, Germany, evaluated potential health risks for consumers using food contact articles made of aluminum.
In the first article the authors provided background information on aluminum and summarized their study design and methods. Aluminum is a non-essential metal that has no known function in animal organisms. The authors highlighted that it may negatively affect the hematopoietic system, nervous system, and bones. A review published in 2016 in the peer-reviewed journal Morphologie has also discussed the potential toxicity of aluminum in the gastrointestinal tract. Dietary exposure is the primary source of aluminum intake in humans, as aluminum salts are used as food additives and elemental aluminum in food contact materials (FCMs). The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) has set a tolerable weekly intake (TWI) for aluminum at 1 mg/kg body weight for all groups of people.
The second article evaluated the migration of aluminum from drinking bottles and stove-top moka pots into beverages. The researchers found that drinking an acidic beverage (apple juice with mineral water) from an aluminum bottle may reach about 87% of the TWI for adults. For a child weighing 15 kg, drinking tea from an aluminum bottle may exceed the TWI (145%). TWI contribution of coffee prepared in an aluminum moka pot was found to be negligible (4% in adults).
The third article evaluated the migration of aluminum from grill pans and other oven and grill utensils made of aluminum. The scientists observed that the transfer limit of 5 mg/L for aluminum was not exceeded in oil or tap water. However, in 0.5% citric acid the migration of aluminum dramatically increased, reaching 638 mg/L, and heating at 160 °C for 2 hours resulted in a further increase by 2-3 times. The authors estimated that a daily intake of 10 mL of lemon juice-containing marinade could sum up to 63.8% of the TWI in an adult, and 298% of the TWI in a child weighing 15 kg. A daily intake of 250 g of a fish dish prepared with a lemon juice-containing marinade in camping dishes could sum up to 187% and 871% of the TWI in adult and child, respectively.
Stahl, T., et al. (2017). “Migration of aluminum from food contact materials to food—a health risk for consumers? Part I of III: exposure to aluminum, release of aluminum, tolerable weekly intake (TWI), toxicological effects of aluminum, study design, and methods.” Environmental Sciences Europe 29:19.
Stahl, T., et al. (2017). “Migration of aluminum from food contact materials to food—a health risk for consumers? Part II or III: migration of aluminum from drinking bottles and moka pots made of aluminum to beverages.” Environmental Sciences Europe 29:18.
Stahl, T., et al. (2017). “Migration of aluminum from food contact materials to food—a health risk for consumers? Part III of III: migration of aluminum to food from camping dishes and utensils made of aluminum.” Environmental Sciences Europe 29:17.
Vignal, C., et al. (2016). “Gut: An underestimated target organ for Aluminum.” Morphologie 100:75-84.