Daily Dose of Aluminium - a Health Risk? Absorption via Food, Cosmetics and Other Consumer Products

Magdalena Lubecki


In 2013 and 2014 a total of 265 consumer articles were analyzed for the pres-ence of aluminium, as well as its release into food simulants. The articles consisted of:

  • food contact materials
  • toys and
  • body contact materials.

The majority of the analyzed samples were inconspicuous; only 3 % of the food contact materials showed noticeable amounts of aluminium in food simulants.


Aluminium in the realm of food contact materials

There is widespread use of aluminium in food contact materials such as cooking pans, coffee cans and in packaging materials such as drink cans. Food contact materials made with aluminium are usually coated.




Guidelines on Metals and Alloys, published by the Council of Europe, September 2013

Safety Evaluation of Aluminium in Consumer Goods

Data provided by industry and European member states show that the current benchmark of 5 mg/kg aluminium in food is a reachable goal.


Requirements for food contact materials made with aluminium

The storage of sour, alkaline or salty, watery foods in uncoated utensils made of aluminium should be limited, in order to minimize the release of aluminium.  Furthermore, aluminium food contact materials must conform to the following additional requirements:

  • The manufacturer of uncoated aluminium objects must provide a guide for using the product, such as: „Do not bring into contact with sour, alkaline or salty foods over a long period of time“ or “Only suitable for storage in refrigerator”.

The manufacturer of uncoated aluminium objects must also make instructions for using their product with strongly alkaline, sour or salty foods available.


Food contact materials – results from the lab

A total of 160 food contact materials (casserole dishes, baking dishes, aluminium foil, etc.) were examined for the release of aluminium into food. Only five samples (3 %) showed significant levels of aluminium release into food simulants, including casserole dishes and frying pans.


Aluminium in Toys


Not only watercolor paints and chalk but also plastic toys contain various coloring agents. Aluminium compounds are used in pigments for dying toys (play-doh, chalk, watercolor paints, sandbox toys, etc.). Harmful heavy metals are inherently undesired; therefore, there are legal limits for their release from toys.


Legal Guidelines for Aluminium in Toys

In dry, brittle, powdery or smooth toy materials
In fluid or adhesive toy materials
In shabby toy materials


5,625 mg/kg

1,406 mg/kg

70,000 mg/kg

(DIN EN 71-3:2013-07, Safety of Toys – Part 3: Migration of certain elements; German version EN 71-3:2013).


Toys – results from the lab

A total of 90 toys were analyzed in the last two years for their aluminium content. All of the samples contained only harmless amounts of aluminium.


Aluminium in body contact materials


Aluminium compounds as pigments for coloring agents are also used in objects that come in contact with the body, such as wrist-bands. However, there is no legal guideline for these objects. Evaluations are made based on the criterion given for DIN EN 71-3:2013-07 (Safety of Toys – Part 3; see above).


Body contact materials – results from the lab

In 2014 a total of 15 objects that come in contact with the body were analyzed for the presence of aluminium. All of the samples were normal.


Photo Credits

CVUA Stuttgart.


List of references

[1] Council of Europe Resolution CM/Res(2013)9 on metals and alloys used in food contact materials and articles, Committee of Experts on Packaging Materials for Food and Pharmaceutical Products (P-SC-EMB); www.edqm.eu, www.edqm.eu/store.

[2] DIN EN 71-3:2013-07, Safety of Toys – Part 3: Migration of Certain Elements; German version EN 71-3:2013.



Catherine Leiblein.


Artikel erstmals erschienen am 08.01.2015