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Aluminium and Health

*Info from The European Aluminium Foil Association e.V. (EAFA)*

Detailed information on the effect of aluminium and products containing aluminium on the environment and health are available in the fact sheets by the EAA (European Aluminium Association). The materials are updated at regular intervals. EAA is directly involved and through its international contacts following the latest scientific publication on health related aspects and updating its fact sheets when significant new data are available. Through the REACH legislation and the data needed for this a complete human health and environmental toxicity risk assessment for aluminium. Access the fact sheet here. .


The properties of aluminium make it an ideal material for food contact: on the one hand, it can prevent spoilage and waste by creating an absolute barrier to light, gases and moisture; on the other, it can optimise the heat exchange when both cooking or refrigerating food.
In fact, aluminium is used in a wide range of food contact applications for preparation (e.g. coffee machines, pots and pans, kitchenware) and storage and preservation purposes (e.g. beverage and food cans, containers, trays, aerosols, tubes, capsules, wrappings, lids, pouches etc.).
The main legislative reference for these applications is the EU Framework Regulation 1935/2004 on materials and articles intended to come into contact with food. Furthermore, in line with the EU Regulation 2023/2006 on Good Manufacturing Practice for materials and articles intended to come into contact with food, the European aluminium industry has developed the Good Manufacturing Practices (GMP) for the sector.
GMP – The Good Manufacturing Practice for aluminium alloy semi and end products intended to come into contact with foodstuff, in application of EU Regulation 2023/2006 on good manufacturing practice for materials and articles intended to come into contact with food: Download the GMP
In addition, specific CEN standards for aluminium have been developed and are consistently applied for the production of applications intended to come in contact with food:
• EN 601 – “Aluminium and aluminium alloys – Castings – Chemical composition of castings for use in contact with food.”
• EN 602 – “Aluminium and aluminium alloys – Wrought products – Chemical composition of semi products used for the fabrication of articles for use in contact with food.”
• EN 14287 – “Aluminium and aluminium alloys – Specific requirements on the chemical composition of products intended to be used for the manufacture of packaging and packaging components.” -
• EN 14392 – “Aluminium and aluminium alloys – Special requirements for anodized products for use in contact with food.” Also the Council of Europe, in cooperation with industry, developed in 2002 its “Guidelines on metals and alloys used as food contact materials”, currently under revision.
Aluminium packaging via its unique combination of properties contributes to the efficient fabrication, storage, distribution, retailing and usage of many products.
It can contain, protect, decorate or even dispense products as diverse as soft drinks and soaps, pet foods and snack foods, tobacco and toiletries, chocolates and chilled foods, tablets and take-away meals – even tennis balls and welding rods. Aluminium packaging has become part of everyday life.
Packaging today responds to consumers’ demands for choice and convenience as well as changed production and distribution conditions and systems. By safeguarding product quality, packaging allows products to be transported and distributed locally, regionally and even globally, thereby making valuable food resources available to a wider population. In modern households, people increasingly turn to the use of fully-prepared meals, canned and frozen foods, in a wide variety of portion sizes, to save time in cooking and preparing meals. Packaging makes this possible.
Aluminium packaging offers a high level of corrosion resistance. It provides optimal protection properties by offering an impermeable metal barrier to light, ultra-violet rays, water vapour, oils and fats, oxygen and micro-organisms. When used to package sensitive products such as pharmaceuticals or food, aluminium is hygienic, non-toxic, non-tainting and retaining the product’s flavour. The aluminium barrier also plays the essential role of keeping the contents fresh and protecting them from external influences, thereby guaranteeing a long shelf-life.
Aluminium packaging consists roughly of 50% semi-rigid and flexible applications (menu trays and other food containers, plain foil and foil in laminates) and 50% rigid applications (beverage and food cans, aerosol cans, closures, tubes, etc.)
The alufoil production within Europe has been growing steadily over the last decades as it is a sustainable and cost-effective packaging option. The trend towards lighter packaging and therefore flexible packaging supports the increasing demand for aluminium foil. The European foil rollers continuously develop and optimise their products in terms to support their customers.
Approximately three quarters of aluminium foil is used in packaging where its characteristics of barrier properties and formability have made it an essential part of many flexible packaging and container applications. Other uses of aluminium foil include automotive and heat exchange components, insulation material and many industrial applications.

*Info from The European Aluminium Foil Association e.V. (EAFA)*

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