ReportNo WSAA 202

November 1998




Aluminiumis widespread in our environment and occurs naturally as part of our food andwater supply. It is also introduced into foods and water through processingpractices including the use of aluminium-containing additives. This reportseeks to provide a database of food and beverage sources of aluminium; toprovide an estimated amount of aluminium consumed by the Australian populationfrom food and beverages; and to indicate the relative contribution to totalaluminium intake from water supplied by urban and regional water treatmentservices.


Informationon the aluminium content of water supplied in major Australian metropolitanareas was collected. About two thirds of Australians live in these areas.Australian data on the aluminium content of foods and beverages whereavailable, were combined with international values to create a database ofaluminium in foods and beverages. To supplement this information analyses ofkey food items were performed; these included salt, extruded snack foods,bottled water, cakes and cake-mixes.


Dietaryintake information was obtained from the 1995 National Nutrition Survey. Thealuminium content of foods as described above was applied to food and beveragequantities as consumed, to provide estimates of aluminium intake forAustralians aged over 2 years. The main dietary contributors to aluminiumintake were the cereal and cereal products food group and non-alcoholicbeverages. The use of aluminium-containing food additives considerablyincreased the aluminium content of the foods to which they were added. Theywere most commonly added to pre-mix cakes, and table and dietary salts.


Meanaluminium intakes for adults, attributable to dietary sources, were estimatedto be in the vicinity of 4.9-6.5 mg/day, with 1-2% from tap water. Thealuminium intakes of children and adolescents were estimated to be 3.0-5.9 mgper day, again with 1-2% from tap water. These values do not exceed the JointExpert Committee on Food Additives (JECFA)(World Health Organization, 1989)provisional tolerable weekly intake of 7 mg aluminium/kg body weight.


Thisreport is one of a three-part series. The first report entitled “BiologicalAspects of Food and Water Supply” by Cumming (1996) considered thehealth-related aspects of aluminium intake. This report seeks to describe thetotal estimated aluminium taken from dietary sources; it makes no attempt todifferentiate between aluminium fractions. The speciation of aluminium may beimportant in determining the relative risk of absorption of any aluminiumconsumed. To date, the effect of speciation on aluminium absorption has notbeen clearly determined. However relative bioavailability of aluminium fromfoods and water has been addressed in the other report of this series byStauber, Davies, Adams and Buchanan (1998).


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