Sulphites (or sulfites as they are known in most other countries) are different from other allergens as they are inorganic salts with preservative properties rather than food proteins.
This is not usually a classic IgE allergy as the symptoms are usually either from contact in the form of rashes or exacerbating asthma symptoms, so are classed as a sensitivity or intolerance.
Sufferers may find that they are able to tolerate a low sulphite diet rather than avoiding completely.
High levels of sulphites are found in wine, E numbers, pickled vegetables, vinegars and dried fruit, but are also found in many processed and fresh foods. You can see the full list below.
You can read more about sulphite intolerance on the dedicated Food Intolerance Page
There is no information on syndromes associated with sulphite allergy.
Sulphites are found in dried foods, so are associated with apricots, cherries, dates, figs and grapes.
They are also found in many pickled foods, so can be associated with beetroot, cabbage, cucumbers, courgettes (zucchini), onions, peppers, eggs and fish.
Other processed food like lemon or lime juice, fish sauces, corn syrups, processed potato products, cheeses, wasabi, avocado or guacamole dips.
Fresh foods in any of these categories are OK to be eaten by those with a sulphite intolerance.
Lower levels of sulphites can be found in fresh foods like maple syrup, asparagus, cassava, durian fruit, lettuce, tomato, soya, eggs, onions, leeks, chives and fresh fish. If your food intolerance is severe you may also want to reduce these foods in your diet.
Allergy UK Factsheet on Sulphites
Food Allergy Canada Factsheet on Sulphites
Sulphites in Adrenaline Injectors – Anaphylaxis Campaign
Articles and Journals
Reinventing the wheal: A review of online misinformation and conspiracy theories in urticaria, 2023
Allergenic proteins in wine: an overview of results obtained from proficiency-tests, 2022
Spectrum and frequency of food allergy in Kyiv`s adult citizens with allergic rhinitis: a cross-sectional study, 2022
Anaphylaxis to food additives, 2022
Occupational allergic contact dermatitis to sodium metabisulfite in shredded coconut, 2022
Patch testing with sodium disulfite: North American Contact Dermatitis Group experience (2017 to 2018), 2021
Sodium metabisulfi odium metabisulfite hypersensitivity in urticaria te hypersensitivity in urticaria, 2021
Contact Allergy to Preservatives, 2020
Hidden Occupational Allergens such as Additives, 2018
Contact Allergy & Intolerance to Sulphite Compounds: Clinical and Occupational Relevance, 2017
Food Standards Agency – Food Labelling for Wine, 2016
Sulfites, The MAK Collection for Occupational Health and Safety, online 2014
Adverse Reactions to the Sulphite Additives, 2012
Considerations for the diagnosis and management of sulphite sensitivity, 2012
Contact allergy to sodium sulfite and its relationship to sodium metabisulfite, 2012
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