Are you wrapping your Chapatis in Paper or Aluminium Foil ? Which one is safer ?

Over past few years people are blaming aluminium foil as an unhealthy alternative to wrap chapatis (Indian flatbread). Most of such educational sermons are spreading through social networks with no research behind them. In our last article we discussed the usage of aluminium foil and found it safe for wrapping purpose if the food being wrapped is not acidic. But here we are comparing paper with foil ! Some of you might think that paper is more natural and must be better to remain on safer side, but your knowledge bout paper will be improved after reading this article.

Paper is a cheaper than aluminium foil and if you are using old newspaper for wrapping food then you must be saving a lot. Yes, people use old newspaper instead of paper napkin to save some money. If we talk about paper napkin then there are different qualities in it. Some paper napkins have printed designs to make them look better and people often prefer them.

Instead of making you read whole article, let me make it clear that aluminium foil is much better than any kind of paper to wrap your roti / chapati / bread. If you are interested in improving you knowledge with the facts behind this statement then you must read this full article.

If you are using newspaper for wrapping your food then here are some facts for you .

  • Recycled paper, which is usually used in newspaper production may be contaminated with chemicals like diisobutyl phthalate and di-n-butyl phthalate which are harmful for our digestive system. These recycled paper also contain printing-ink residues from previous prints, which may contain hormone disruptors like benzophenones and mineral oils.
  • Eating newsprint can also lead to lead poisoning. However modern laws don't allow usage of lead in ink, but only god knows how many newspapers are following all rules and regulation, especially when it comes to local newspapers.
  • Organic chemicals such as arylamines, such as benzidine, 2-Naphthylamine and 4-Aminobiphenyl, are found to increase the risk of bladder and lung cancer. Printing inks also contain colorants, pigments, binders, additives and photo-initiators which are harmful for human health.

According to sciencing.com you can test it yourself if your newspaper is using harmful ink or the safer soy-based ink. Just rub your finger on the black text of the newspaper. If you find a lot of deep inky black residue stuck on your finger tip, then it mean that it could be harmful petroleum based ink.

According to hindustantimes.com, a few years ago FSSAI published an advisory to warn citizens of India about printing-ink being used in newspapers. According to that advisory that ink may contain harmful colours, pigments, binders, additives, preservatives, chemical contaminants and pathogenic micro organisms. Older people and kids with weaker immune system are at greater risk if the consume that ink through the food wrapped in newspaper. That advisory also warned about cancer-related health and urged public to stay away from wrapping or serving food in newspaper as mostly done by road side vendors. 

If you are thinking that plain paper might be safe for food wrapping usage, then you are wrong. Microbial contamination can easily occur in paper wraps. As far as our research is concerned aluminium foil is better than any kind of paper to wrap your food. To know more about aluminium foil used in food wrapping, you may read our last article : Using Aluminium Foil to wrap your food ! Is it Healthy ?

Here let me tell you one thing ! Bacteria can't cross the layer of aluminium foil, but paper can be easily breached. Even paper can be a playground for various types of bacteria.

Reference :

  • http://www.thehealthsite.com/diseases-conditions/eating-food-wrapped-in-newspapers-can-cause-cancer/
  • https://www.dawn.com/news/1107947
  • https://sciencing.com/test-ink-newspapers-see-toxic-7699090.html
  • https://www.hindustantimes.com/health-and-fitness/bad-news-don-t-wrap-food-in-newspapers-printing-ink-contains-harmful-colours/story-LpcVR0iOcHnNrzUSuGbVmO.html
  • https://www.researchgate.net/publication/331834585_Bacteriological_Load_in_Traditional_Food_Packaging_Paper

Using Aluminium Foil to wrap your food ! Is it Healthy ?

8.23% of Earth crust is Aluminium. It is the third most abundant element after Oxygen and Silicon. Usage of Aluminum foil in cooking is being done from a long time. Some use it just to wrap the food, while some use it for cooking and serving purpose. Some people believe that aluminium in food can cause Alzheimer's disease, and this myth/fact is spreading widely on social networking sites. Here i will try to gather some facts to know the truth.

The word "leaching" gained popularity in past few decades and people came to know that food contained in plastic containers is not healthy anymore, due to the chemicals that leach from plastic to the hot/cold food. Thanks to crazy brain of some people, they developed a self proved theory with no studies behind them that leaching can also occur from aluminium foil and it is also a leading cause of brain diseases.
According to World Health Organisation daily intake of 40mg per kilogram of body weight per day is safe. So a 60kg person is allowed to intake 2400 mg.
Aluminum is found in a number of consumer products including
  • food additives
  • antacids
  • astringents
  • cosmetics
  • buffered aspirin
  • antiperspirants / deodorants
If we talk about  just foods, then aluminum compounds may be added during processing of some foods, such as:
  • baking powder
  • flour
  • anticaking agents
  • coloring agents
A healthy human body contains much less aluminium than an antacid tablet. 
Lets talk about how much aluminium we consume through different intake methods. An average american adult consumes about 7–9 mg of aluminum per day.
  • Aluminum in the air range from 0.005 to 0.18 micrograms per cubic meter.
  • Aluminum in natural waters is below 0.1 milligrams per liter.
  • Antacids have the highest concentration of aluminium among the items listed here. 300–600 mg aluminum hydroxide (i.e around 104–208 mg of aluminum) in every antacid tablet/capsule/or a 5 mL liquid dose.
  • Buffered aspirin may also contain 10–20 mg of aluminum per tablet.
  • Vaccines may contain upto .85 mg of aluminum compounds per dose.
  • If you are using cooking products such as baking powder, coloring agents, anticaking agents or some some other food additives then you might be consuming up to 94 mg of aluminium per day. In North America an average adult is eating up to 24 mg aluminium daily through food products.
  • Dietary intake of aluminium is just 1% of total intake.  
If you use Aluminium as saucepans, cooking utensils, cans and foil then it increases you daily intake of aluminium by less than 0.1 mg.
What does our body do with Aluminium ?
Our healthy body can filter out a lot of aluminium through feces and urine. If you are taking antacids for longer duration then some amount of aluminium may reach your bloodstream, but that too can be filtered by kidneys. But if you are suffering from some kidney disease then you may need to tell your doctor before taking such medicines.
In case of some kidney disease the aluminium is deposited in your bones and may also also cause neurological damage.
There is no proof of dietary aluminum toxicity to healthy individuals in medical literature.
Aluminium and Alzheimer's disease
Some researchers believe that aluminium can damage neurological functions and it may be a reason behind Alzheimer's disease, but it is not proved yet. Here the interesting fact is that dietary aluminium can't reach the brain if the kidneys are working fine. So the real danger of side effects of aluminium increases only in case of kidney disease.

Aluminium Foil to wrap the food
According to researches done so far, there is no harm in wrapping your food in aluminium foil unless the food items are not too acidic, like thick tomato sauce or salad with vinegar dressing. How cooking with aluminium foil not suggested as may increase the aluminium content of food.

Do you think that Paper is a good alternative for Aluminium foil ?

Conclusion : The real danger of aluminium intoxication is not from food, but from over usage of aluminium based medicines and air pollution containing aluminium dust. Just like PM10 and PM2.5 pollutants aluminium dust can harm our body. Humans are evolved in aluminium rich environment, so a healthy body know how to deal with it, but industrial pollution is quiet new. So instead of thinking about aluminium utensils and aluminum foil, we must think about air pollution hazards.

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