The discussion of Sulfites has become popular among many of us who suffer from allergies and/or sensitivities to additives in our food.


What is a Sulfite?


A sulfite is a chemical compound generally used as a preservative which can cause some people to have mild to moderate or even severe reactions.  Although no foods have a high concentration of sulfites, when combined and consumed on a regular basis, individuals can have moderate to severe reactions to the chemical.


If Harmful Why Are They Used?


In general, sulfites are used as a preservative.  They assist in keeping harmful bacteria or fungus from growing in the food products that we consume.  Sulfites are used in wine and dried food, acting as an antioxidant to prevent them from turning a brown color.  In wine, sulfites also prevent wine from turning into vinegar.  They are used agriculturally in many ways to extend the shelf life of products.  While most governments have placed a ban on the use of sulfites as a preservative for fresh fruits and vegetables, they continue to be used in preserving dried fruits, making wine, and to preserve seafood and other meats.  Sometimes trace amounts can be found in products because of the indirect ways sulfites are used. Most countries do not require labeling of trace amounts of the compound.

Reading Food Labels is Important!

The following is a list of ingredients to be aware of, that have sulfite containing compounds:

  • Sulfite ammonia caramel
  • Caustic sulfite caramel
  • Sodium bisulphite (sodium hydrogen sulfite)
  • Sodium sulfite
  • Potassium metabisulfite
  • Sodium metabisulfine
  • Potassium sulfite
  • Calcium hydrogen sulphite
  • Calcium sulfite
  • Potassium hydrogen sulfite
  • Sulfur Dioxide (not a true sulfite, but chemically very close


Foods Containing Sulfites

(Includes but are not limited to the following)


Alcoholic Beverages

Some beers, cocktail mixes, wine, wine coolers, champagne.


Fruit pies, Cookies, crackers, mixes with dried fruits or vegetables, pie crust, pizza crust, quiche crust, flour tortillas.

Drink Mixes

Dried citrus fruit beverage mixes.

Condiments and Relishes

Wasabi, horseradish, onion and pickle relishes, pickles, olives, salad dressing mixes, wine vinegar, pickled ginger.

Sugars, Syrups

Brown, raw, powdered or white sugar derived from sugar beets. Corn syrup, maple syrup, fruit toppings, and Syrups high-fructose corn syrup, pancake syrup.


Filled milk (a specially prepared skim milk in which vegetable oils, rather than animal fats, are added to increase its fat content).


Antiemetics (taken to prevent nausea), cardiovascular drugs, antibiotics, tranquilizers, intravenous muscle relaxants, analgesics (painkillers), anesthetics, steroids and nebulized bronchodilator solutions (used for treatment  of asthma).


Canned clams; fresh, frozen, canned or dried shrimp; frozen lobster; scallops; dried cod, frozen shrimp.

Fresh Fruit and Vegetables

Fresh potatoes that have been cut for french fries and hash-browns.

Gelatins, Puddings, and Fillings

Fruit fillings, flavored and unflavored gelatin, pectin jelling agents.


Cornstarch, modified food starch, spinach pasta, gravies, hominy, breading, batters, noodle/rice mixes.

Jams, preserves, and jellies

Jams and jellies.


Shredded coconut.

Canned fruit products

Canned, bottled or frozen fruit juices (including lemon, lime, grape and apple); dried fruit; canned, bottled or frozen dietetic fruit or fruit juices; maraschino cherries and glazed fruit.

Canned Vegetable products

Vegetable juice, canned vegetables (including potatoes), pickled vegetables (including sauerkraut), dried vegetables, instant mashed potatoes, frozen potatoes and store bought potato salad.


Dried fruit snacks, trail mixes, filled crackers, granola bars.


Canned seafood soups, dried soup mixes.


Instant tea, liquid tea concentrates, canned tea drinks.



Common Symptoms of Sulfite Sensitivity

(includes but are not limited to)



Congestion in nose and sinus

Runny Nose

Frontal Headache




Upset stomach, diarrhea, nausea and vomiting.

Difficulty swallowing

Drop in blood pressure

Trouble Breathing


What now?

  • Read food labels carefully looking for the word “sulfite”
  • Consider genetic testing to evaluate your body’s ability to process Sulfites.
  • Schedule a Functional Medicine Consultation with Dr. Matt
  • Questions? Contact Us


“At Thrive for Life we believe the body has the ability to heal itself and function optimally.  This is only true if there is nothing interfering with that process.  Our focus as specialists is to find the cause of the interference and or imbalance and do everything we can to correct it, allowing the body to once again heal itself and thrive!  We do not claim to treat conditions or cure disease; we are simply working to support and restore the body’s natural healing abilities.”