Sulfites? A Brief Overview

As a person who has a sensitivity to sulfites I figured someone may search and find this post useful. It took me over a year to figure it out and I suspect I had issues my whole life.

So if you are one of those people that have strange reactions to certain foods, break out in hives, get tired after eating certain things, or have gas issues, then this info is worth a read.

What are Sulfites?

  • Sulfites are compounds containing sulfite ion. These salts can occur is food naturally or added as preservatives in wine, grape juices and dried food products to enhance and retain the desired food qualities. Some of the common  compounds are sulfur dioxide, potassium bisulfite, and sodium sulfite. The FDA requires manufacturers to list sulfite as a component only if the finished product has more than 10 parts per million (ppm) of sulfite in it. Substances like fruits and alcoholic beverages contain less than10ppm of sulfites and therefore do not require any mention in the ingredient labels. This undisclosed fact is a risk factor for those with sensitivity.

National Statistics

  • The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) puts the number of people sensitive to sulfites as one in every ten. Sulfites have also been known to destroy vitamin B1 or thiamin. This vitamin is essential for metabolism of carbohydrates and alcohol. The manifestation of sulfite allergy or sensitivity in humans can be mild to severe. The most common complain that some of us might have encountered is a phenomenon known as red wine headache.
  • A person sensitive to the sulfites in red wine develops headache and a bad temper accompanied with it. Since there is no reliable or commercially available skin test for sulfite allergy, the diagnosis is mainly based on the history of adverse reactions to sulfite containing food products or medications. As each persons tolerance level is different and unique, it is extremely difficult to identify the exact amount of sulfite that can cause an allergic reaction.

Serious Stuff… Asthmas, Hives, Swelling…

  • Sulfites have been known to induce asthma attacks in some cases and hives or facial swelling in others. Though very rare, sulfites can sometimes even cause a severe allergic reaction, known as anaphylaxis. Food containing sulfites and its related compounds can be classified into four broad categories: more than 100 ppm of sulfites, items such as dried fruits, bottled lemon juice, wine, molasses, sauerkraut, grape juices, pickled onions; between 50 and 99.9 ppm of sulfites, such as dried potatoes, wine vinegar, certain sauces, fruit toppings; between 10 and 49.9 ppm of sulfites, like pectin, shrimp, corn syrup, corn starch, clam chowder, dehydrated vegetables; and less than 10 ppm of sulfites, like malt vinegar, frozen pizza and pie dough, gelatin, coconut, domestic jams and jellies. The best precaution in case of sulfite allergy or sensitivity is to check the labels before buying for sulfites or any of its compounds and avoiding them. Prompt medical action should be sought in case of any allergic reactions.

Pretty crazy huh?? Sound like something you might have?

We would love to hear your feedback below.

Amber Peterson

Lover of family, fitness, and life. I always struggled with my weight when I was younger and had no clue about how or what to eat. I know help people all over the world learn what works for them. I encourage a lifestyle change vs some fad diet routine. I look forward to helping and learning from you.

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