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Food Safety Focus (92nd Issue, March 2014) – Food Incident Highlight

Sulphur Dioxide and Food Allergy

Recently, food surveillance conducted by the Centre for Food Safety (CFS) has revealed that several preserved fruits and vegetables samples contained sulphur dioxide at levels exceeding the legal limit. The CFS immediately conducted source tracing, suspended sale of the products and issued warning letters.

Sulphur dioxide is a preservative commonly used in a variety of foods and beverages including dried fruits, pickled vegetables, sausages, fruit and vegetable juices, cider, vinegar, wine, etc. Sulphur residues in food are considered to have low toxicity. However, it may induce allergic reactions such as asthmatic attacks, headache and nausea in susceptible individuals.

Individual sensitive to sulphur dioxide should read food labels carefully every time when shopping for food and look for the names of sulphur dioxide, sulphites and sulphite derivatives or their International Numbering System numbers (220, 221, 222, 223, 224, 225, 226, 227 and 228) on the ingredient list, and avoid all food products containing these compounds. Members of the food trade should comply with the Preservatives in Food Regulation, follow Good Manufacturing Practice and label their products properly.