Edible metals or vark - gold or silver - are considered safe to consume, but only if it contains the pure metal. It is important to purchase edible gold and silver sheets from reputable manufacturers, especially with silver which may contain a high percentage of aluminum or just the aluminum itself. The desired purity is just the metal itself with no alloys present, so find a resource that sells sheets as pure as possible and always see if the package states 'edible' or 'inedible'. This will tell what the purity is if no other clues are present as to the purity. For example, in the 2010 Albert Uster catalog you can find 23K edible gold sheets, and inedible silver sheets (to be used for decoration only).
Using edible gold and silver leaf is a showstopper, but take the time to search for edible metals available from specialty purveyors who specialize in handling them. Craft store metallic sheets for gilding are not edible, and contain either a mixture of copper and zinc alloy to mimic gold, or pure aluminum to resemble pure silver.
Here are some resources for pure edible silver and gold:
- Connoisseur Gold of Wrights of Lymm Ltd - UK-based resource for 24K edible gold sheets
- The Gold Leaf Company - Edible gold and silver leaf, sprinkles, and rolls
- Gold Leaf and Flakes - Edible gold flakes and 24K pure leaf
- Silver Star Silver Leaves - 100% vegetarian silver foil, pure silver vark, and white silver foil
No matter if it is pure silver or gold, have fun decorating your cakes and desserts with pure sparkle.