Aluminium in Food
In May, 2009, the CFS released a risk assessment report in regard to levels of aluminium in various food products in relation to the use of aluminium-containing food additives in local Hong Kong markets. Results revealed that high aluminium levels were found in steamed bun/cake, bakery products (muffins), pancake, waffle, coconut tart, cake, and ready-to-eat jellyfish. Adverse health implications from aluminum exposure include osteomalacia, reproductive toxicity, decreased growth, delayed maturation and impaired neurodevelopment.
Aluminium occurs naturally in most food and drinking water at a low level. However, because of the extensive use of aluminium-containing additives in food production, they are the main source of dietary exposure in the population. Aluminium-containing food additives have been widely used in the food industry as firming agent, raising agent, stabilizer, anti-caking agent and coloring matter for more than a century. Many of them are permitted to be used in countries such as the United States, the European Union, Australia, New Zealand and Japan. In 2006, after re-evaluating the safety of aluminium, the Joint Food and Agriculture Organization / World Health Organization Expert Committee on Food Additives (JECFA) lowered the Provisional Tolerable Weekly Intake (PTWI) from 7 mg/kg body weight (bw) to 1 mg/kg body weight.
The CFS advises the trade to limit the application and the quantity of aluminium-containing food additives in food products. Food producers and developers can check the components and identity of ingredients to ensure aluminium levels in final products does not impose health risks on consumers. Replacing aluminium-containing food additives by other alternatives or developing alternative techniques are also possible ways to reduce or eliminate the amount of aluminum-containing additives in foods. In the meantime, trades are suggested to measure the amount of added food additives correctly and to provide accurate information on food additives used in prepackaged food.
As a global leader in verification, testing and certification services, SGS Hong Kong is fully capable of providing aluminium testing service.
For further details, please download SCOOP: Aluminium in Food (PDF 124 KB).
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