What Are the Dangers of Galvanized Metal Containers?

Galvanized metal containers can resemble stainless steel containers, but come with certain risks or dangers.

Food Storage Dangers

Galvanized metal almost looks like stainless steel.Galvanized metal almost looks like stainless steel.
The containers sometimes work as small coolers for entertaining and as the base for elaborate centerpieces. When used with a plastic liner, the containers even work for growing small flowers and vegetable plants. Before using the containers for any type of food or cooking, be aware of the potential dangers and health risks.

Never use galvanized metal containers for the storage of any type of food. Foods that contain a high level of acid can break down the metal. Fruit juices, dishes using citrus juices, tomatoes and pickles all contain high levels of acid. The acids may also cause the release of zinc from the galvanized metal, which can lead to zinc poisoning.

Cooking in Galvanized Metal

When galvanized metal reaches high temperatures it lets off zinc fumes. Cooking in any type of galvanized pan comes with the potential of zinc poisoning.

Nitrate Dangers

Any food that contains high levels of nitrates should not be placed inside galvanized metal containers. Nitrate-rich foods include cured meats and smoked meats, like ham and cooked sausages. The nitrates used for preservation, including salt, creates a reaction when placed against galvanized metal. The reaction causes oxidization or corrosion and releases zinc from the metal. Even uncured or raw foods should not come into contact with the galvanized metal. Certain fresh fruits contain sulfur dioxide, which extends its shelf life but causes the same reaction in the metal.

Considerations

Manufacturers may use galvanized metal as a base for a cooking device, such as a galvanized steel base on a metal grill. When cooking, watch for any signs that indicate a problem. Zinc fumes produce a thick and smoky scent that lingers in the air. You can clearly note the difference between the scent of grilling meat and the scent of zinc. As soon as you notice the zinc smell, turn the grill off and leave it off. Be aware that some decorative utensils feature galvanized steel or metal. The utensils provide decoration for your home, but should not touch food.

About the Author

Jennifer Eblin has been a full-time freelance writer since 2006. Her work has appeared on several websites, including Tool Box Tales and Zonder. Eblin received a master's degree in historic preservation from the Savannah College of Art and Design.