What Is It? A Look at Strange-Sounding Ingredients in Your Food (Page 5)

What Are Sulfites?

What Are Sulfites?

Typically Found In: Wines, dried fruit, frozen shellfish, canned soups
What We Discovered: Sulfites are a class of preservatives that includes sulfur dioxide, sodium bisulfite and potassium metabisulfite (look for these terms in ingredients lists). They keep dried fruits from browning and prevent bacterial growth in wines. Sulfites also occur naturally in wines. Sulfites are harmless—unless you’re among the one in 100 Americans who are allergic to them (in which case, consuming them is potentially life-threatening). Bottom line: If you experience itchy skin or trouble breathing after consuming something that may contain sulfites, tell your doctor: it’s possible to develop food allergies as an adult. But, for most people, enjoying foods and drinks preserved with sulfites is no problem.

Next: What Is Xanthan Gum? »

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