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Call us toll-free† at 1-877-510-510-2 to speak directly with a Registered Dietitian.
Sulphites are substances that are naturally found in some foods. They are used as an additive to maintain food colour, shelf-life and prevent the growth of fungi or bacteria. Sulphites are also used in food packaging like cellophane.
These foods may also contain sulphites:
Other items that may contain sulphites include:
Sulphites are not allowed on fresh vegetables and fruits (except sliced potatoes and raw grapes). They are also not allowed on pre-packaged meat, poultry and fish (other than tuna and crustaceans).
In Canada, sulphites must be listed on the package label (except for alcohol). Stricter Canadian guidelines require that sulphite-containing products are clearly labelled. The ingredient list will say “contains: sulphites” if it contains this ingredient.
Sulphites can have many other names, such as:
Yes, for most people. However, some people have sulphite sensitivity and may react to sulphites with allergy-like symptoms.
A sulphite sensitivity is when the body reacts to consuming sulphites. Sulphite sensitive people may have a similar reaction as those with a food allergy. Sulphites can trigger asthma and symptoms of an anaphylactic reaction. Many people who have asthma may also have a sulphite sensitivity. An allergist can confirm sulphite sensitivity. In this case, sulphites need to be avoided.
It’s possible. People who suffer from migraines are often told to avoid sulphites as they may act as a trigger. More research is needed to understand the link between sulphites and migraines. If you think sulphites may be the cause of your migraines, take note of what you ate and drank before your migraine started and talk to your doctor.
Only if you have sulphite sensitivity. You can prevent a sulphite reaction by avoiding all food and products with sulphites.
Keep these helpful tips in mind:
Sulphites are safe for most people. You can still eat a healthy balanced diet following Canada’s Food Guide if you have a sulphite sensitivity. If you aren’t sure if a product contains sulphites, don’t take any chances. Carefully read the ingredient list of food products every time to avoid a sulphite-related reaction.
If you have more questions about a sulphite-free diet, call the dietitians at EatRight Ontario at 1-877-510-510-2 or send an email.
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Dietitians of Canada acknowledges the financial support of EatRight Ontario by the Ontario government. The views expressed do not necessarily reflect those of the Province.