Cooking with aluminum foil, mortal danger?

A reader sought the opinion of the Rumor Detector after reading an article titled “Doctors Issue Warning: If You Use Aluminum Foil, Stop Or Face Fatal Consequences.”

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Already, the long alarmist title should put the chip in the ear on the quality of the content. Especially when you realize that the article comes from the site Santé Nutrition, renowned for its unreliable content.

The article reports the results of a 2012 research that found that a meal cooked in aluminum foil could contain up to 400 mg of aluminum. This would vary depending on the cooking temperature and the ingredients used. From there, the author extrapolates several negative consequences: problems with the brain, bones and lungs.

Here again, verifying the source is important. It turns out that the research is authentic and taken from the International Journal of Electrochemical Science. But this research does not “discover” the transfer of aluminum in food (called, in chemistry, leaching) nor the fact that it varies according to the method of preparation and the ingredients used: it is a fact already well known. chemists… and cooks. It will be larger in contact with salts, spices or acidic foods, such as tomatoes.

Another study published in 2019, for example, also found that cooking various foods (salmon, pork, duck, tomatoes, cheese, marinated or not, etc.) in aluminum foil increased the aluminum concentration in a very variable way. Depending on the ingredients, one recipe could contain up to 40 times more aluminum than another!


Therefore, is cooking with aluminum dangerous? Despite these results, the researchers did not find the amounts alarming, considering that it would be difficult to absorb up to 2 mg per kilogram of body weight per week, which is the dose considered dangerous in the long term.

This threshold refers to the so-called provisional threshold (pending additional data) established by the World Health Organization (WHO) in 2011. An adult weighing 70 kilos could therefore consume 140 mg per week of aluminum without risk. These thresholds were established by combining data from several animal-based studies, and adding a safety margin to account for differences between species.

A 70 kg adult could consume 140 mg per week of aluminum without risk.

For reference, Health Canada estimates on its website that Canadians absorb an average of about 10 mg of aluminum per day, mainly through food. The other sources are water, medicine and air. You should also know that more than 99% of the aluminum consumed is quickly eliminated in the urine and in the stool.

Even with acute exposure, Health Canada indicates that “aluminum has low toxicity. In humans, oral doses up to 7200 mg / day (100 mg / kg body weight per day) are commonly tolerated without showing any evidence of short-term adverse effects. “

There is no dose limit for aluminum in drinking water in Canada, because “there is no convincing and strong evidence that aluminum in drinking water can cause effects. harmful to humans ”.

However, to reduce the risk, Health Canada recommends that foods are not cooked or stored for long periods in aluminum containers. We also suggest the use of anodized aluminum cookware, the treated surface of which reduces the transfer of aluminum to food.

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