aluminum foil

Q. I have read that aluminum exposure might contribute to Alzheimer’s disease. This alarmed me, as I routinely wrap food in aluminum foil to reheat it. I also cover with foil when I bake and wrap raw chicken, pork and fish in individual packets for the freezer. I also “tent” a turkey while roasting it. Is any of this a problem?

A. There is not much information about aluminum leaching into foods. What there is suggests that acidic foods such as tomato sauce, lemon juice or vinegar could corrode aluminum (Food and Chemical Toxicology, March, 2009). These researchers found that boiling the foil for at least 10 minutes in water decreased the problem. The foods you describe are not particularly acidic, so you may not need to worry about this issue. But if you were wrapping cooked food with tomato sauce, you might want to take the precaution of boiling the foil first.

Here is a link to more information about aluminum cookware.

We worry more about applying aluminum to delicate skin, as is the case with antiperspirants. Here is link to a video to explain our concerns in more detail.

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  1. jack c.

    Controversy has surounded aluminum for years, and I always wrap my food in wax paper first.
    I started doing this when I unwrapped a piece of cooked ham for a sandwich that had been in the refrigorator for three days and found some of the foil had “desolved” on to the surface of the meat leaving holes in the foil!

    • Denise

      I too have experienced this dissolving effect of aluminum foil. I baked my Christmas ham, following the directions to cover it with foil. After dinner during clean up I noticed a lacework of rounded small holes in the foil as i was about to discard it. These were not tears. They were small circular holes on the areas that made contact with the ham as it baked. I am appalled at this revelation and will never use aluminum foil again next to any food.

  2. Cindy M. B.

    Like B.T., I too have always wondered what’s the difference between the glossy and matte sides of aluminum foil. Anybody know? Also, it seems like boiling aluminum foil for 10 minutes (!!) would not only waste water and energy but it’d also be quite unwieldy to execute without pretty well screwing up the foil. And all just to wrap something with tomato sauce? Methinks there would be many better solutions.

  3. SGH

    Parchment paper is great for baking. Instead of foil, I use it to cover pies and baking sheets. You won’t have to grease your cookie sheets, or remove an over-browned pie crust from the oven. You can also wrap cookies and other baked goods in parchment paper – No need for aluminum foil or wax paper.

  4. B.T.

    Regarding the use of aluminum foil to wrap food, which side of the foil is safest to put in direct contact with the food, the dull side or the glossy side? Why are not both sides the same? Is one side treated with something, and if so, with what, and should we fear that substance more than aluminum? I haven’t researched these issues yet, but will.

  5. A.M.

    I have two dogs at home, one is 12 and the other is 2 years old. I made chicken in an aluminum foil pack in a 350 degree oven. I thought the chicken tasted fine, but my two dogs would not eat the chicken. They sniffed it and both walked away.
    I used aluminum foil another time and they both had the same reaction. I am leary of using it in cooking. I stopped using it also to line my baking sheets. Do the dogs sense something wrong with food cooked in aluminum?

  6. CBL

    Wrap the food in parchment paper first, and then in aluminum foil. There’s a product that has parchment paper on one side with foil on the other, but it doesn’t seem to “hold” as well as separate pieces of parchment paper and foil.

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