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Alternate Names

Potassium Bisulfite, Potassium Metabisulfite, Sodium Metabisulfite, Sodium Sulfite, Sulfur Dioxide, Sodium Bisulfite


Sulfur occur naturally in some foods or is added to foods to preserve them and retain natural color. There are six sulfite additives currently listed with the FDA (see names section above). Sulfur Dioxide is gas that is formed when sulfur burns. It is used as a preservative and as a disinfectant for winery and brewery equipment.

Sulfites - Quick Stats

Potassium Bisulfite, Potassium Metabisulfite, Sodium Metabisulfite, Sodium Sulfite, Sulfur Dioxide, Sodium Bisulfite

Allergy Information


Preservative, Dough Conditioner, Antimicrobial, Antioxidant


E221, E222, E223, E224, E226, E227, E228

Additional Information

The FDA restricts the use of sulfites in foods or meats recognized as a source of Vitamin B1 because the sulfites destroy the vitamin. As a result of several deaths related to the use of sulfites on raw foods (especially in cafeterias and salad bars where vegetables were soaked in a sulfite solution for long periods of time), the FDA banned its use on raw fruit and raw vegetables. Sulfites are also used in food packaging. Labeling is required when added sulfites exceed 10ppm (FDA) and 10mg/kg (EU). Products that include ingredients that contain sulfites, do not need to indicate that sulfites are present. This means, for example, that a product containing dried fruit (which was treated with sulfur dioxide) need only state "dried fruit" on the ingredient list. This is a highly food sensitive additive and can cause severe reactions in sulfite-sensitive individuals (see possible health effects).

Found In

wine, dehydrated or dried fruit, cut potatoes, beer, shrimp, fruit jelly, foods containing dried fruit (trail mix, cereal, baked goods, etc.), syrup, maraschino cherries, soup, baked goods, canned and frozen fruits & vegetables, condiments, relish, fruit juice, seafood, packaged lemon juice, soft drinks, tomato products, parmesan cheese

Possible Health Effects

A sulfite-sensitive person may experience life-threatening symptoms. Other reactions to sulfites can be severe, especially for those suffering from asthma. Also reported as effects: migraine headaches, hives, anaphylactic shock, and nausea.

Allergy Information

May cause allergic reaction in sensitive individuals

Online Resources/Related

Print Resources

Copyright July 21, 2010 Be Food Smart, Updated May 24, 2012

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