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The BfR (the German Federal Institute for Risk Assessment) has issued a press release and a position paper (full version in German only) on the release of aluminium into acidic foods from uncoated aluminium foil containers when using the “Cook & Chill” procedure for catering applications mainly in Germany. This involves hot filling of the cooked food into the containers, cooling and refrigerated storage for three days, reheating and storage at more than 65 °C for 2 hours.

The three foods tested were sauerkraut juice, apple puree and tomato passata.  At the end of the process, the measured levels of aluminium exceeded the Council of Europe (CoE) Specific Release Limit of 5 mg aluminium /kg food in all three foods.

The majority of the release occurred during the final storage at elevated temperature.

From these results, they concluded that an adult with a daily consumption of 200g of such acidic foods would receive about 0.5 mg aluminium/ kg body weight/ week. In their opinion, this would significantly increase the likelihood of the individual exceeding the Tolerable Weekly Intake (TWI) of 1 mg aluminium/ kg body weight/ week set by the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA). They point out that this does not mean that that there will be an adverse effect on health but that margins of safety used when setting the TWI will have been reduced.  Therefore, such additional aluminium intake should be minimised.

Professional evaluation of BfR findings by independent scientist Dr. Ulrich Nehring, Managing Director of independent Institut Nehring and member of ad-hoc working group “Metals and alloy in contact with food stuff“ of the Council of Europe:

Video interview     Written Q&As

Statement to the BfR postion paper on the release of aluminium into acidic foods from uncoated aluminium containers when using the “Cook & Chill” procedure.

General advantages of aluminium foil containers can be found here.