Dietary intake of sulfites could be a safety concern according to EFSA
High dietary intakes of sulfites could be a safety concern for consumers of foodstuffs that contain the additives, EFSA’s experts concluded in their updated assessment of sulfur dioxide (E220) and sulfites (E221-228). Gaps in toxicity data meant the extent of certain adverse health effects could not be confirmed.

Sulfite occurs naturally in the body as well as in foods such as apples, rice, onions, cabbage and beverages like wine.

Sulfites are added as preservatives and antioxidants – for example, to prevent browning – to a range of foodstuffs including dried fruit and vegetables, potato-based products, beer and malt beverages, wine and fruit juices.

EFSA’s Food Additive and Flavouring Panel could not define an acceptable daily level (ADI) because of the insufficient toxicity data. In these cases, Margin of Exposure (MoE) approach is used for risk assessment. According to the results, estimated intakes for these consumers potentially exceed what would be considered safe, by up to 12.5% for children (3-10-year-olds) and up to 60% for adults.

The Panel found evidence of adverse health effects on the central nervous system – such as a delayed response of nerve cells to stimuli – an early sign of nervous system dysfunction. EFSA’s scientists also restated their previous recommendation to further investigate hypersensitivity or intolerance among some sensitive consumers due to knowledge gaps.


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