cereal sulphites

Sulphite Allergy | One of the 14 Major Food Allergens

What are Sulphites?

Sulphites are substances that are found naturally in some foods and drinks. They are also used as an additive to slow browning and discolouration in foods and drinks during the preparation, storage and distribution processes. They are also used to prevent the growth of bacteria or fungi. Sulphites can be used in food packaging like cellophane and are produced naturally in the production of wine and beer. 

Although an allergy to sulphites is rare,  those with underlying asthma are more likely to have allergy symptoms from sulphites. Allergy UK states that 13% of people with asthma suffer from sulphite sensitivity. Sulphites release sulphur dioxide, an irritant gas, which is why sulphite allergies are prevalent with other health conditions related to the nose, throat and mouth.

Those with Urticaria, a type of skin rash, also experience an aggregation after consuming sulphites.

apricots sulphites

The History of Sulphites

Sulphites were used as preservatives in foods and beverages in the 1970s and 1980s. However, the Food and Drug Administration banned them in America due to the increase in severe allergic reactions. The ban stopped the use of sulphites in fresh fruits and vegetables.

Although they are still permitted within processed meat products, dried fruit, beer, wines and other food and drink products.

Symptoms of a Sulphite Reaction

Sulphites can cause a reaction when breathing in sulphur dioxide from food or drink consumed that contains sulphites. It can cause asthma and suffer allergy symptoms from wheezing to life-threatening anaphylactic reactions, although this is rare in the case of a sulphite allergy.

Ingredients to avoid if you have a Sulphite allergy:

Labels and ingredients on food products, medicines or drinks need to include the following substances: 

  • Sulphur Dioxide (E220)
  • Potassium Bisulfite 
  • Sodium Sulphite (E221)
  • Potassium Metabisulphite (E224)
  • Sodium Metabisulphite (E223)
  • Sodium Hydrogen Sulphite (E222)
  • Calcium Sulphite (E226)
  • Potassium Hydrogen Sulphite (E228)
  • Calcium Hydrogen Sulphite (E227)
  • Caustic Sulphite Caramel (E150b)
  • Sulphite Ammonia Caramel (E150d)

Possible foods and drinks containing sulphites include:

  • Cereal, cornstarch, crackers, muesli
  • Dried fruits and vegetables such as raisins, apricots, sweet potatoes
  • Wine and beer
  • Canned and frozen fruit and vegetables 
  • Fruit jams, jellies, syrups 
  • Fruit and vegetable juices
  • Vinegars 
  • Condiments such as ketchup, pickles, mustard etc…

Sulphites and Food Labelling

UK labelling rules apply to sulphur dioxide that has purposely been added as a preservative or used in food preparation.

EU food labelling laws require food sold in the UK to include an alert of sulphites on the label if it includes more than 10mg per kg or 10mg per litre or above.

Businesses that do not follow allergen laws, face serious consequences, click here to find out more.

LiberEat’s Allergy Detection Technology

LiberEat’s Allergen Detection Technology provides an allergen safety blanket for food businesses. LiberEat offers a second line of defence for food businesses by detecting allergens and other harmful ingredients found in food.

Food businesses can apply this technology directly to identify errors in allergen communications, preventing the risk of injury or loss of life in consumers.

Get in touch with us today to learn more about our Allergen Detection Technology.

To find out how LiberEat Technology supports food businesses to detect allergens and errors, to protect consumers