Use of aluminum pans has been called into question for their potential to contaminate food with aluminum. Is aluminum cookware safe?
You probably have these shiny, metallic pans in your kitchen right now. Aluminum pans have long been used in kitchens around the world to prepare hot foods. Recently, there has been increased scrutiny of aluminum cookware due to the potential for aluminum to seep out into food particularly when the pans are heated. Are aluminum pans safe?
The Food and Drug Administration has repeatedly addressed the issue of aluminum pan safety and continues to reiterate that aluminum pans are safe for home use. Although there have been repeated studies addressing the issue of whether aluminum exposure to high concentrations of aluminum can increase the risk of Alzheimer’s disease, there is no consensus on this issue. A study published in the Journal of Alzheimers disease in 2007 showed a correlation between elevated aluminum levels in the brain and the development of Alzheimer’s disease, although this doesn’t necessarily show cause and effect. Other studies have found little or no correlation between aluminum exposure and the risk of developing Alzheimers disease.
It appears that aluminum is not well absorbed from the gastrointestinal tract which means that even when a person is exposed to aluminum through cookware and through other sources, a significant amount may not be absorbed into the bloodstream to reach the brain. Even if you chose to cook your food in uncoated aluminum pans, less than four milligrams of aluminum would be taken in on average which is less than the aluminum content of a single antacid tablet. It’s been determined that an intake of 7 mg of aluminum per kilogram of body weight per day is safe which would correspond to around 60 milligrams a day for the average adult male.
From the previous data, it would seem that aluminum pan safety would be a non-issue with such low concentrations of aluminum being absorbed through the use of uncoated aluminum pans. But, it must be remembered that aluminum can be derived from other sources such as drinking water, through contact with aluminum foil wraps, and certain packaged food products as well as antacids. For this reason, it’s best to limit aluminum consumption as much as possible from cookware.
One way to increase aluminum cookware safety is to use only aluminum cookware that’s been anodized. This provides a safe, nontoxic coating which can help to prevent leaching of aluminum in to food, particularly acidic foods which are more likely to react with the pan. These anodized pans are now widely available in department stores and kitchen shops. Be careful when selecting aluminum pans since some have a nonstick Teflon coating which is now being questioned for its potential to cause health problems.
By choosing anodized aluminum pans by such companies as Cuisinart you can help ensure aluminum pan safety and reduce the amount of aluminum that could potentially leach into your food.