What Are Sulfites?

What are sulfites? Sulfites are a group of preservatives commonly used in dried fruit and products containing dried fruit, wine and other beverages, flavored vinegars (for example, balsamic vinegar), and many salad dressings. Sulfites are a common allergen and can cause headaches, bowel irritability, behavioral problems, skin rashes, and other symptoms. They are particularly dangerous for asthmatic individuals, who can develop bronchospasm (a sudden constriction of the airways) after eating foods or drinking wine preserved with sulfur dioxide or other sulfites. Sulfites destroy thiamine (vitamin B1) and might destroy folic acid (vitamin B9) in the foods to which they’re added.  On food labels, they may be listed as sodium sulfite, sulfur dioxide, sodium or potassium bisulfite, sodium metabisulfite or potassium metabisulfite.


Dean D. Metcalfe, Ronald A. Simon, Food allergy: adverse reactions to food and food additives, Wiley-Blackwell 2003, pp 324-339.

Medical Management Guidelines for Sulfur Dioxide. Agency for Toxic Substances & Disease Registry. 2008. Retrieved from http://www.atsdr.cdc.gov/mhmi/mmg116.html.

By Lisa Tsakos| March 02, 2012
Categories:  Eat

About the Author

Lisa Tsakos

Lisa Tsakos

Lisa has been in her own practice for over 15 years and specializes in weight management. She teaches natural nutrition in both corporate and educational environments and is a shining example of someone who practices what she teaches.

Lisa is a nutritionist and educator specializing in weight management. After losing weight several years ago through a more natural diet and by improving her digestion, she committed to sharing her new-found knowledge and returned to school to study nutrition. Over the past decade, her Nu-Vitality Weight Program has helped employees at numerous corporations lose thousands of pounds. In addition, Lisa regularly consults for groups and individuals with unique nutritional needs such as police officers and athletes. Lisa has been featured on the Discovery Channel, numerous radio programs and is a contributor to various publications. Additionally, she teaches nutrition at multiple post-secondary schools, has taught natural food cooking workshops, and authored two books.

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