Aluminium Cookware Facts

Introduction

Hulamin Ltd is South Africa’s major supplier of aluminium products and a member of the Aluminium
Federation of South Africa (AFSA), which is in turn affiliated to the European Aluminium Association
(EAA). Hulamin exports to more than 40 countries around the world.

As a supplier of aluminium used in food and beverage packaging as well as in cookware, Hulamin takes
very seriously the safety of its products with regard to the health of consumers. Hulamin together with
AFSA regularly monitor research conducted internationally in the field of metals and health.

This short summary sets out the latest information available on aluminium and health.

Introduction to aluminium

  • Aluminium is also the third most abundant element in the earth’s crust; it is in the air we
    breathe and the water we drink.
  • Consumers easily identify with aluminium products, such as cookware, beverage cans,
    antiperspirants and antacids.
  • Most food contains some aluminium, particularly those which grow underground such as
    potatoes.
  • Aluminium is used in many medicines and food additives with approval from the U S Food and
    Drug Administration.
  • Aluminium is the preferred packaging material for many pharmaceutical and food products.
  • The U.S. Food and Drug Administration classify metallic aluminium and a number of aluminium
    compounds as “Generally Recognized as Safe” (GRAS).

Through the EAA’s research efforts, through continuing surveillance of the world’s scientific literature,
and through discussions with leading researchers in the field, the Association has concluded that:

  • Ordinary environmental exposure to aluminium is safe. According to the Food and Drug
    Administration, typical ingestion of aluminium in the diet is not of public health significance.
    The contribution of drinking water to the dietary intake of aluminium is minimal and not of
    concern.

Aluminium is poorly absorbed by the body and most if not all aluminium ingested from food
and water merely passes through the digestive tract and out of the body.

  • Aluminium is not linked to Alzheimer’s disease, the cause or causes of which remain unknown.
  • The biological significance of aluminium in the brain is largely unknown. Everyone has
    aluminium present in his or her brain from birth, yet only a small percentage of the population
    contracts Alzheimer’s disease, usually late in life as with other forms of dementia.

 

Details of key aluminium product types and the alleged, but scientifically unsupported, link to
Alzheimer’s disease follow:

Aluminum in Packaging

Aluminium is ideally suited for packaging food, confectionary, beverages and pharmaceuticals due to
the fact that it is impervious and does not support bacteria growth. These products packed in
aluminium are protected from spoiling better than in the majority of other materials.

Products in aluminum packaging are safe. Aluminum is used in many medicines and food additives
with the approval of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

Aluminum in Cookware

Aluminium cookware items include pots, pans, containers, heat-and-serve trays, pie plates, foil sheets
and foil wrapping for broiling or baking. According to research, cooking and handling foods with
aluminium cookware adds little or no aluminium to foods. The US Food and Drug Administration has
“no information at this time that the normal dietary intake of aluminium is harmful.” The Harvard
Health Letter and The Mayo Clinic Health Letter have published similar statements.

Aluminium and Alzheimer’s Disease

A connection between aluminium and Alzheimer’s has been hypothesized since the 1970’s when a
Canadian researcher published results of an analysis which indicated that Alzheimer’s victims had
elevated amounts of aluminum in their brains. Subsequent research by others has not substantiated
the initial findings.

The Alzheimer’s Association, the National Institutes of Health and numerous reputable medical
sources have issued statements that there is insufficient evidence to establish any connection
between aluminium and Alzheimer’s disease.

The aluminium industry is concerned about the tragedy of Alzheimer’s disease and allegations that
aluminium products may somehow be connected to the disease. The industry, through the EAA, has
sponsored research for more than 10 years, into the causes of Alzheimer’s disease.


References:

(a select few; more are available on request)

 

FDA – GRAS – online database

http://www.fda.gov/Food/IngredientsPackagingLabeling/GRAS/SCOGS/default.htm (URL date 13-10-
11)

 

IPCS (1997) – International Programme on Chemical Safety Report N°194 – Environmental Health
Criteria – Aluminium – World Health Organization

http://www.inchem.org/documents/ehc/ehc/ehc194.htm (URL date – 13-10-11)

 

Krewski D, Yokel RA, Nieboer E, et al. Human health risk assessment for aluminium , aluminium oxide,
and aluminium hydroxide. Journal Toxicol Environ. Health 2007 ; 10 (Suppl.1) 1 – 269.

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2782734/pdf/nihms33559.pdf

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2782734/ (URL date – 13-10-11)

 

Alzheimer’s Association (US)
http://www.alz.org/alzheimers_disease_causes_risk_factors.asp (URL
date 13-10-11)