Sulfites are commonly used in the processing and storage of various foods and drinks. In the U.S., they were finally banned for use on produce in 1986. At that time the FDA also required other beverages containing sulfites, such as wine, beer and dried fruit to have warning labels.
Please note that it is extremely important to obtain an accurate diagnosis before trying to find a cure. Many diseases and conditions share common symptoms: if you treat yourself for the wrong illness or a specific symptom of a complex disease, you may delay legitimate treatment of a serious underlying problem. In other words, the greatest danger in self-treatment may be self-diagnosis. If you do not know what you really have, you can not treat it!
Sulfites are sulfur-based preservatives that are used to prevent or reduce discoloration of light-colored fruits and vegetables, prevent black spots on shrimp and lobster, inhibit the growth of microorganisms in fermented foods such as wine, condition dough, and maintain the stability and potency of certain medications. Sulfites can also be used to bleach food starches, to prevent rust and scale in boiler water that is used to steam food and even in the production of cellophane for food packaging.
These potentially toxic and harmful substances can cause nausea or diarrhea and precipitate asthma attacks in sensitive individuals. The “salad bar” syndrome is caused by sulfite sprays used on vegetables to keep them “fresh” longer.
A person can develop sulfite sensitivity at any point in life.
Products That Contain Sulfites
Sulfites can occur naturally in foods or are added to enhance food products. Sulfites are produced naturally during the fermentation of wine. There is a variety of foods that contain sulfites including baked goods, soup mixes, jams, canned vegetables, pickled foods, gravies, dried fruit, potato chips, trail mix, beer, wine, vegetable juices, bottled lemon juice, bottled lime juice, tea, condiments, molasses, fresh or frozen shrimp, guacamole, maraschino cherries, and dehydrated, pre-cut, or peeled potatoes.
There are six names used for sulfites: sulfur dioxide, sodium sulfite, sodium bisulfite, potassium bisulfite, sodium metabisulfite, and potassium metabisulfite. Sulfites, bisulfites and metabisulfites are all dry chemical forms of the gas, sulfur dioxide.
Foods that may contain sulfites (partial list):
* Alcoholic Beverages (labeling of sulfites in alcoholic beverages is required if the concentration is 10 parts per million or greater.)
* Bakery Items: Breads containing dough conditioners, cookies, crackers, pie and pizza crusts, tortillas, waffles.
* Beverages: Beverages containing sugar or corn syrup, dried citrus fruit beverages, canned bottled, and frozen fruit juices.
* Condiments: Horseradish, relishes, pickles, olives, wine vinegar.
* Dairy: Processed cheese foods.
* Dried Foods: Dried herbs and spices, dried fruits, trail mixes.
* Fish and Shellfish: Fresh shrimp and scallops frozen, canned or dried clams, shrimp, lobster, crab, scallops, dried cod.
* Fruits: Fresh grapes, dried fruits (including raisins and prunes and especially pale fruits that have not discolored), canned, bottled and frozen fruit and juices, maraschino cherries, glazed fruit.
* Gelatins, Fillings, Frostings: Fruit fillings, flavored and unflavored gelatin, pectin, jelling agents, canned frostings and frosting mixes.
* Grain Products: Cornstarch, modified food starch, spinach pasta, gravies, hominy, breading, batters, noodle and rice mixes.
* Hard Candies
* Jams and Jellies
* Nuts: Shredded coconut.
* Plant Protein Products: Soy protein products including tofu, textured vegetable protein, infant formula.
* Snack Foods: Filled crackers, dried fruit snacks, trail mixes, tortilla chips, potato chips.
* Sugars: Brown, white, powdered and raw sugars.
* Vegetables: Vegetable juices, canned vegetables (including potatoes), pickled vegetables (including cauliflower, peppers, sauerkraut), “fresh cut” potatoes (as delivered to restaurants), frozen vegetables (including french fries and deli potato salad).
Incidence, Causes & Development
The FDA estimates that 1% of people are sulfite-sensitive and 5% of those also suffer from asthma.
It appears that sulfite sensitivity may be caused by a relative deficiency of the enzyme sulfite oxidase which breaks down sulfites and requires molybdenum as a cofactor. As with lactase deficiency, this is a metabolic problem and not an allergic one.
Signs & Symptoms
Asthma, nasal and sinus congestion, rhinitis, postnasal drip, frontal headache and bronchospasm can be triggered by sulfites.
Diagnosis & Tests
Sulfites can be measured in the urine, and used as a means of monitoring symptom correlation with treatments such as molybdenum.
How to Learn More
FoodFacts has all of the ingredients listed in the world’s first and most comprehensive food ingredient database, empowering consumers with what they need to know to avoid sulfites. The sources mentioned earlier are only partial. For the most comprehensive source, turn to FoodFacts.
Source: Diagnose Me