Dangers of Sodium Metabisulfite

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Foodfacts.com wants to help you learn more about what controversial food additives are being put into your foods. You’ve probably encountered many products containing sodium metabisulfite without even realizing it. Sodium metabisulfite preserves food and is used extensively in commercial wine making. It is a bleaching agent in the textile, pulp and paper industries. It is also used in the chemical, pharmaceutical, film and photographic industries, and even in water and sewage treatment plants. However, pure sodium metabisulfite can be quite hazardous.

Sodium Metabisulfite in Food
Sodium Metabisulfite is commonly used as a food preservative for dried foods, like potato chips, raisins and apples, as well as fruit concentrate juices. As a food product, the safe daily intake of sodium metabisulfite has been determined to be about .7 grams per kilogram of body weight. However, those with allergies to sulfites — often exhibited by rashes, hives and wheezing – might try to steer clear of this preservative altogether.

Inhalation
Inhalation of sodium metabisulfite irritates your respiratory tract. Symptoms include coughing and shortness of breath. In some individuals, sodium metabisulfite may cause an allergic, asthma-type reaction.

Ingestion
Ingesting pure sodium metabisulfite irritates your gastrointestinal system as it reacts with acid in your stomach by releasing sulfurous acid. Ingesting high amounts may cause nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal pains, circulatory disturbance and central nervous system depression. A fatal dose is estimate to be 10 g for the average adult.

Skin Contact
When placed in direct contact, pure sodium metabisulfite can irritate skin causing redness, itching and pain.

Eye Contact
Similar to skin irritation, direct contact of sodium metabisulfite with your eyes can cause irritation, pain, stinging, tearing, redness, swelling, corneal damage and blindness. These effects may be irreversible.

Allergic Reactions
Sodium metabisulfite causes extreme allergic reactions in certain sulfite-sensitive individuals, resulting in broncho constriction, shortness of breath, wheezing, coughing, gastrointestinal disturbances, rapid swelling of the skin, flushing, tingling sensations and shock.

Other Names for Sodium Metabisulfite
Sodium pyrosulfite; Disodium Salt Pyrosulfurous Acid; Disulfurous acid, disodium salt, Pyrosulfurous acid, disodium salt; Sodium disulfite; Sodium Pyrosulfite; Sodium disulfite; Disodium disulfite

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