|MadSci Network: Chemistry|
The short answer to your question is that,yes, it is safe to cook in cast aluminum pots. The controversy started with a report in 1970 that brains of people with Alzheimer's disease contained abnormally high levels of aluminum. What is not known is whether the increase is part of the cause of the disease or a result (Journal of Toxicology and Environmental Health, 1996, 48 (6):615-635). It has long been known that aluminum from cookware can leach into foods. (Indeed components of all types of cookware can leach into foods). This effect is most pronounced with acidic foods. According to FDA, a person using aluminum pans for all cooking and food storage every day would take in an estimated 3.5 milligrams of aluminum, well below the 7 mg/kg body weight intake established by the Joint FAO/WHO Expert Committee on Food Additives. FDA has concluded that "the agency has no information at this time that the normal dietary intake of aluminum, whether from naturally ocurring levels in food, the use of aluminum cookware, or from aluminum food additives or drugs, is harmful." (FDA Consumer, October, 1990) However, FDA and USDA both recommend that food, particularly acidic and salty foods, not be stored in cookware (aluminum or otherwise) for extended periods of time.
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