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Reactions to food additives widespread.

Reactions to Food Additives Widespread

Sulfites are widely used as preservatives or antioxidants in food and drugs. They are a group of sulfur-based chemicals appearing as sulfur dioxide, sodium sulfite, sodium and potassium bisulfite, and sodium and potassium metabisulfite.

Only a portion of the population is allergic to these substances. But for those who are vulnerable, the reactions can be severe, especially among asthma sufferers.

The symptoms most frequently reported are difficulty in breathing, wheezing, hives, diarrhea and dizziness. Deaths have also been reported.

Consumers can protect themselves by scrutinizing lists of ingredients where they appear. In the case of restaurant dining, the gamble is greater: purveyors of such foods are not regulated as strictly as necessary when the food used is not clearly identified.

The Food and Drug Administration proposed a ban on sulfites in processed potatoes. The canned potato industry complained that the chemical is necessary to prevent discoloration. The pharmaceutical industry also resists a ban on sulfites arguing that there is no substitute available that will maintain the stability and potency of some drugs.

A chart compiled by the Food and Drug Administration's Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition appears to the right of this article.
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Publication:Nutrition Health Review
Date:Mar 22, 1990
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