Sulfite Allergy

What are Sulfites?

Sulfites are chemicals commonly used as preservatives for different types of food and beverages. They are sometimes added to fend off microbial contamination and natural decay. Some sulfites are also naturally produced through the fermentation process, such as in wine and beer.

lue colored cocktail with olives on a wooden table next to a pool

Sulfites are generally safe to eat. However, a small percentage of people are sensitive to sulfites, and some may experience allergic reactions. Allergy symptoms can range from mild (e.g. a rash) to severe (e.g. anaphylaxis, a potentially life-threatening allergic reaction). In cases of allergic reactions, seek medical help immediately.

Common Sulfite Additive Names

  • Sulfur dioxide
  • Sodium bisulfite
  • Sodium metabisulfite
  • Sodium sulfite
  • Potassium bisulfite
  • Potassium metabisulfate

Foods and Beverages that May Contain Sulfites:

  • Alcoholic beverages (cocktail mixes, wine, beer, apple cider)
  • Baked goods (cookies, products with dried fruit)
  • Condiments (horseradish, pickle relish, gravies)
  • Dried or processed vegetables and fruits
  • Instant tea and liquid tea concentrates
  • Jams, jellies, and preserves

Tips for Avoiding Sulfites:

  • Read labels on all food and beverage products that you consume, checking for the sulfite additives listed above.
  • When you eat out, ask the server whether the food you order contains sulfites.
  • If you have an allergy to sulfites, be sure to inform your doctor and check that the medications you use do not contain sulfites.

Did You Know?

Sulfites have properties which slow browning of fruits and vegetables.