Brazil bans aluminum-based additives in food

By Niamh Michail

- Last updated on GMT

Aluminum-based additives are used in flours. © GettyImages/AlenaKravchenkoEyeEm
Aluminum-based additives are used in flours. © GettyImages/AlenaKravchenkoEyeEm
Brazil’s food safety regulatory authority ANVISA has banned the use of food additives containing aluminum for safety reasons.

The decision was published last week (22 May) in Brazil's official journal following a unanimous decision to back the proposal at a meeting of ANVISA’s board of directors.

The amended regulation can be read here​ (in Portuguese).

The prohibited additives include aluminum silicate, aluminum salts of myristic, palmitic and stearate acids, and aluminum acid sodium phosphate.

Aluminum used as an additive in food colors used in confectionery, processed cheese, soups, and chemical raising agents in flours, pastries, pizza, bread, biscuits, and other baked goods.

Acidic sodium aluminum phosphates are used as acids for baking powders for the chemical leavening of baked goods. Sodium aluminum silicate, meanwhile, is used as an anti-caking agent to prevent powders, such as spices or dehydrated soup mixes, from clumping.

Manufacturers will have 12 months to ensure compliance. Products manufactured during the compliance period may be marketed until the end of their shelf-life.

The objective of regulatory intervention is to reduce the health risks arising from the consumption of food with food additives containing aluminum," ​said ANVISA director and rapporteur Renato Porto.

Aluminum is a naturally occurring substance.

Its presence in food can be due to a number of reasons: as a result of its natural occurrence; because of food contact materials, such as foil trays, or due to aluminum-based additives used in a food or drink product’s formulation.

However, the metal can accumulate in the human body and cause damage to the human reproductive and nervous systems. Experiments with animals have shown that aluminum compounds impact the male reproductive system and the developing embryo, while both animal and human studies have shown neurological.

Health risks are associated with intakes over a provisional tolerable weekly intake of 2 mg per kg body weight, the regulatory body said.

“In order to restrict the consumption of aluminum to what is strictly necessary, the authorizations to use five aluminum-containing food additives that had their harmonized use in Mercosur for 14 food categories, as well as nine other categories in Brazil, were revoked,” ​said ANVISA.

ANVISA took into account international recommendations on the risks of using food additives containing aluminum, issued by the Joint FAO/WHO Expert Committee on Food Additives.

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