Artisanal Cooking Pots

Do Artisanal Aluminium Pots Leech Toxic Metals Into Cooked Food?

Article and Research courtesy of Angela Mathee – [email protected]

THE POTENTIAL FOR EXPOSURE TO TOXIC METALS FROM FOODS COOKED IN ARTISANAL ALUMINIUM POTS

Increased awareness in recent years of the practice of smelting waste aluminium to craft cooking pots, has raised concern over the potential for leaching of toxic metals into cooked foods, and the associated health risks, including lowered IQ scores, learning difficulties and behavioural problems.

Preliminary leaching studies have confirmed an elevated risk of transfer of metals such as aluminium, arsenic and lead from pots to foods. Blood sampling has also shown elevated levels of lead in artisans crafting pots from molten waste metal, relative to community controls.

Aluminium for crafting cooking pots is usually sourced from vehicle wreckage, discarded laundry irons, sandwich makers, kettles and other items. Waste aluminium is melted in backyards of homesteads over simple fires, and the molten metal cast into basic moulds, and then cooled. The final products are not coated with a protective layer, as is the case for most cast iron pots, increasing the risk of leaching of toxic metals into cooked foods.

Artisanal aluminium cooking pots are known to be produced in at least three South African provinces, and sold in at least six, indicating the potential for considerable public health impact. Given the role of artisanal pots in the generation of livelihoods and cost savings in impoverished communities, the design and development of risk reduction interventions, and assurance of their feasibility and acceptability, is challenging.

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Comments (7)

  • BoitumeloReply

    I would like to contact someone from Maputo cause am interested in selling those pots

    29th Oct 2019 at 4:03 pm
    • Shea BethellReply

      Hi Boitumelo, this article discusses the dangers involved with toxic metals leaching from the pots into food. I am a bit confused as to who or why you want to contact someone from Maputo? There is a project underway where silicon liners have been made for the pots to prevent people from getting sick when eating food cooked in these pots. Please send us an email if you are interested in discussing this article further. Thanks, Shea.

      30th Oct 2019 at 10:03 am
  • Ronald ButlerReply

    Hi, I am confused, one part says good to use aluminum pots, then the other part says it is dangerous to use the pots, I read that it cleans better and cook faster but the rest as mention is a big concern.

    12th Apr 2020 at 10:48 pm
    • Shea BethellReply

      Hi Ronald, the article does not state that it is good to use the pots. The article focuses on local communities making these pots with scrap aluminium. The aluminium used is dangerous as it leeches toxins into the body when cooking. A pot liner has since been manufactured and distributed to communities using these pots. I may be wrong but I believe the Bill Gates foundation played a roll in the initiative.

      22nd May 2020 at 10:18 am
      • HannetjieReply

        Where in Pretoria can I can I get the aluminium molds

        9th Sep 2020 at 10:44 am
  • BertusReply

    Please send me an contact for the liner in the pots..
    I must say I have being using these pots now for 5 years and no one got sick of my food.. Strange…

    2nd Jul 2020 at 11:53 am
    • Shea BethellReply

      Hi Bertus, there is nothing wrong with using traditional “potjie pots” that are manufactured in factories under controlled environments. This article is concerned with a small amount of artisanal pots being made in the informal sector. The pots are made with scrap aluminium and are distributed to the poorest communities as they are cheaper than a conventional potjie pot. I will try to find the contact for the liners and post it here for you.

      6th Jul 2020 at 12:07 pm

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