Sulphites are a group of chemical agents that are added to food, beer and wine to enhance crispiness or prevent bacterial growth.
The term "sulphites" includes sulphur dioxide and the salts formed from sulphurous acid, such as sodium sulphite or potassium meta-bisulphite. In the mass production of wine, sulphites are also used to prevent browning of white wines and to quickly end fermentation. Other foods high in sulphites are dried fruits, pizza, oven chips, jam, seafood products and processed meats. Sulphites used as spray-on preservatives in fresh fruits and vegetables have been banned.
Are Sulphites Safe?
Although sulphites are classed as safe, one in 10 people will have some reaction to sulphites. Reactions can range from rashes and itching to restricted breathing, asthmatic attacks and hives and, on very rare occasions, anaphylactic shock. Sulphites should, therefore, be avoided by asthmatics and those with liver or kidney dysfunction.