Gold. Shiny, shimmering gold. A word that usually brings enjoyable and glamorous associations. A representation of comfortable luxury, massive wealth, romantic love, and high status. An idea to covet and an object to desire. Gold wrapped around our necks, sparkling on our fingers, glowing in decor items, or being worshipped in churches…the list goes on and on. Wherever gold appears – it catches the eye and sparks interest. Accompanying man for most of history – it still holds every bit of its glorious reputation even today. In fact, it is making a showing in new areas and conquering whole new territories! The popularity of gold fever is growing with such intensity, that we now have the pleasure of talking about – edible gold. And naturally, the first question that pops into our head would be ‘is gold poisonous?’
In all honesty, eating gold is far from a brand new concept. Yes, it may be commercialized to the awareness of the masses in the 21st century – all thanks to social media and the generally increased flow of accessible information. However, as a concept, it dates back to 5000 years ago. With first appearances among the ancient Egyptians, as well as the eastern cultures such as Japan, China, and India, edible gold has been around for quite some time. Even the European kings used gold as a food decoration in the Middle Ages.
So, after all this time, what kind of knowledge have we actually accumulated about the pros and cons of eating gold?
What Happens When You Eat Gold?
Imagine this scenario. You are all dressed up, sitting in a fancy restaurant. Or you are travelling the globe, visiting exotic destinations. Maybe you are celebrating the birthday of a loved one. Or you might be simply curled up in your pyjamas, scrolling the results on Instagram for the “foodie” hashtag. And, right there, before your eyes, stand the golden dish. Naturally, you wonder. You may or may not know the history of edible gold, but you are fully aware that gold is, after all, a metal. It is not something that usually pairs with food. You can’t find it on a shelf at your local grocery store.
Is Gold Poisonous?
When it comes to your body, you are more used to having it on the outside, rather than the inside. So, the questions take shape in your mind – what happens if I do eat this? Is gold edible? Is gold poisonous? And, if so, what are the toxicity symptoms?
To put your mind at ease – if you ever find yourself in front of a rare opportunity to dine in such a royal manner – go ahead! But, before you take your jewellery to the kitchen pots for your next fancy dinner party and start melting, there are a few things you really need to know about eating gold. Simply to make sure that instead of impressing your guests, you wouldn’t wind up poisoning them.
Difference Between Jewellery Gold and Edible Gold
Jewellery gold and edible gold are two different things. The gold found on that extravagant dish in front of you has very little in common with your wedding ring, for example. While most wedding rings are built from 14k or 18k gold, and then integrated with metal alloys for added strength, edible gold must be pure. Pure gold ranges between 23k – 24k and is completely free of any other metals that might be harmful to your health. The gold leaves and edible gold flakes that you find surrounding your sushi or floating in your cocktail go through a tiring process of being created. They are usually prepared by gold hammering, or pounding and rolling the metal sheets over and over again until it reaches 1/8,000 of a millimetre of thickness.
Now, according to science – gold is inert, meaning that it doesn’t quite break down easily. So, if you do indulge in a few bites of food topped with pure gold, it’s safe to say that it will not dissolve in your bloodstream, but it will simply leave your body as a waste product. However, a fair warning – don’t get your hopes too high for that golden poop! The dish might have been all fancy and luxurious, but all else following will lack that same shine.
Pure gold will not impact the taste of your meal – as it’s tasteless. It does have a slight texture and feels light on your tongue, but it will not add any value to your food where taste is concerned. You still will be able to fully enjoy whatever food you’ve chosen to have covered in gold.
Health Benefits of Eating Gold
It was believed that the Indian Royal culture nurtured the notion that adding noble metals, such as gold into their diet would have a rich impact on improving cognitive skills and boosting health altogether. They combined the gold particles with several herbs and spices, creating unforgettable recipes that coloured the royal Indian kitchens with vivid images and fragrances.
The ancient Egyptians have Cleopatra to show, as it’s believed she used to take nightly baths with gold, as well as using face masks made of pure gold. The ancient Chinese, on the other hand, used the practice of adding gold into creating mysterious elixirs. One of them was the elixir of life or the elixir of immortality, also known as the philosopher’s stone. Gold was considered a very potent ingredient in the overall mix.
However, alchemy aside, today we are equipped with scientific knowledge revolving around the health benefits of eating gold. And, to put it as a simple statement – there aren’t any! Pure gold contains no calories or any nutritional value, and it doesn’t get dissolved by the stomach acid, so merely eating gold leaves or gold dust will not provide you with any health value. It’s worth mentioning that it is gluten-free, so it can be enjoyed by those struggling with gluten allergies and intolerances. But is gold poisonous?
The only health benefit from the consumption of edible gold is the psychological one. Believing that eating something which is both valuable and rare might have an autosuggestive effect on the consumer that it’s also beneficial to their health.
Negative Side Effects of Eating Gold
It is safe to say that there are no negative side effects of eating food with gold. As long as you are sure that the gold you are about to consume is pure and contains no impurities – you are good to go. As mentioned, pure gold ranges between 23k and 24k. The 24k gold is often considered soft and too fragile, which is why it will contain small amounts of pure silver, too.
Nothing to worry about, pure silver is also considered safe to eat.
A word of caution – edible gold should be avoided during pregnancy and breastfeeding.
Example of Foods That Typically Have Gold Leaf Applied – Are They Good or Bad
If we are talking about gold leaf, the first thing that comes to mind is desserts! Cakes, cupcakes, chocolate, fruit, even doughnuts have served as the gracious host of precious gold leaves. Very few people would argue that desserts need much improving, but here we are – making them golden. And, they shine! So, why stop there? Well, we didn’t.
Even though the gold leaf or variegated gold leaf is traditionally found on the sweeter side of the food palate, it has managed its way into the savouries, as well! How does a gold-wrapped sushi sound? Like heaven? Agreed! What about a creamy golden risotto? What’s that, you can already smell it? Same here! Anyone for a burger, or maybe some chicken wings? Yes, your junk food can now come with edible gold on top!
Going even further, some fancy bartenders have pulled their weight and as a result, we can now get royally drunk. No, this isn’t an innuendo on the massiveness of the next day’s hangover (although how cool would it be to be able to say you drank too much gold last night?) This simply means that we are now able to drink golden cocktails! Think about golden champagne, just think.
Has the FDA Declared Gold to Be Safe to Eat?
Interestingly enough, after everything said and done in the field of edible gold – there is no official statement from the FDA regarding the safety of gold consumption. When it comes to the US authorities, we do have the Centers for Disease Control stating that gold is not a poison. The European authorities have been much more vocal on the subject.
The European Food Safety Administration (EFSA) has even created a designation known as E-175 to identify the gold that is safe for human consumption. The effects and safety of E-175 were first evaluated back in 1975 and recently re-evaluated in 2016 by EFSA.
Apart from the sophisticated touch of elegance and prestige, the gold leaf will bring to the dish, it also has certain other advantages. The gold leaf has an indefinite shelf life and can easily be ordered online. While the storage issues may require some careful handling, it is best kept in a dry and cool place, away from warmth and dampness.
In conclusion, the short answer to the question ‘is gold poisonous’ can be – not really. Simply put, you can rest assured that it’s generally safe to eat edible gold, but keep in mind that you shouldn’t confuse jewellery gold and edible gold as these are different. And if you haven’t tried it yet, here at Barnabas Gold we offer edible gold leaf that can be used for different kinds of pastries.
Edible gold is considered safe, even though there isn’t an official statement from the FDA concerning the safety of gold consumption. Moreover, it’s important to distinguish the jewellery or different types of gold from edible gold.
Since it has been established that edible gold brings absolutely no concerns to one’s health, it is safe to say that you can feel free to implement it in as many meals as you can afford to. Moderation is key with everything, so it’s no exception here as well, but you should be able to glamorize your food and give special, sparkly meaning to important occasions without an anxious thought. However, it’s worth mentioning that there is such a thing as hypersensitivity to metals, so should one suffer from this condition it’s advisable to avoid including any type of edible gold in your diet.
The simple answer is you shouldn’t. Pure gold is tasteless. Being biologically inert, your saliva is not able to dissolve it and therefore your taste buds are unable to detect a flavour. Many people expect their golden food to have a metallic taste, but this is not the case. In fact, if you are eating a meal topped with edible gold and you find a metallic taste to it – you are not having pure gold. For that matter – you are not even having edible gold.
The motivation behind eating gold has been changing with the time periods. In ancient times, gold was consumed under the notion of health benefits, spiritual awakenings, or mystical practices. However, one component remains, unbeaten by time itself. It feels good. It feels luxurious. It feels powerful. And, it is.