Aluminium foil is an indispensible feature of our kitchen: the packaging material offers effective protection against light, oxygen, moisture, and germs. Compared to other packaging materials – for example cling film or baking paper – aluminium foil is thus a so-called “absolute barrier”. Thanks to its properties, aluminium foil prolongs the shelf-life of food and thus makes a major contribution in the avoidance of food wastage. Incidentally: for this very reason, aluminium foil is also often used as one of many components in composite packaging systems, familiar for example from the materials used to package UHT milk. Here the aluminium foil can be just 0.006 millimeters in thickness, in other words thinner even than a human hair. Food wastage is an acute problem of our times: according to a study made by the Gesellschaft für Konsumforschung (GfK), a leading German market-research institute, and the Federal Ministry of Food and Agriculture, 50% of the food waste generated in Germany in 2017 might have been avoided – among other things by ensuring optimal storage conditions and the proper protection of the food products.
Aluminium is all around us: we ingest it every day. As the third most abundant element in the crust of the Earth, it also finds its way into food crops and our drinking-water supplies – this is why it’s a natural ingredient of much of the food we ingest, such as tea, salad, or chocolate. By the way: at over 60%, we take up by far the largest part of this natural element with untreated food, followed by food additives, which account for up to 40% of the amount we ingest. Only a small fraction of up to 4% finds its way into our bodies via uncoated aluminium objects such as household utensils, grilling trays, or aluminium foil.