This blog will tell you about some of the health risks associated with sulfites and reasons why Harmony House’s freeze dried fruit stays fresh, nutritious, delicious, and shelf stable for years without any sulfur dioxide (or other preservative or additive of any kind).
What is Sulfur Dioxide?
Sulfites, also known as sulfiting agents, are inorganic salts that are commonly used as preservatives by food and beverage producers. Sulfur dioxide is a compound that many dried fruit sellers add to their products to delay spoiling and to prevent them from turning brown on the shelf.
What are the Health Risks Associated with Sulfites?
The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) classifies sulfites as Generally Recognized as Safe (GRAS). But a small number of people are very sensitive to sulfiting agents. For those who are sensitive or hypersensitive to sulfites, eating even a tiny amount of sulfur dioxide can trigger symptoms that range from uncomfortable to dangerous. When exposed to sulfites, sensitive individuals have been known to suffer a wide range of symptoms including itching, flushing, hives, facial swelling, low blood pressure, gastrointestinal pain, diarrhea, wheezing, asthma attacks, and, in the most rare and worst cases, life-threatening anaphylaxis. Symptoms of sulfite sensitivity usually begin within half an hour after eating food that contains sulfur dioxide.
Who is at Risk?
Children and adults of all ages are prone to sensitivity to sulfites, and sensitivity can arise later in life, even if there has been no history of a reaction at any point earlier. People who have asthma have a higher risk of reaction to sulfur dioxide than those who don’t, however, some non-asthmatics are also at risk. The FDA estimates that one out of a hundred people is sulfite sensitive, and most of them have asthma. Many studies have found 3–10% of people with asthma are sensitive to sulfites, particularly among people with chronic asthma. A number of studies have suggested that 5–10% of all chronic asthmatics are hypersensitive to sulfites. Researchers are not 100% certain of the underlying causes that lead to sulfite sensitivity, though they are certain that it is best for asthmatics and those who have had symptoms of sensitivity to sulfur dioxide to avoid the preservative. All Harmony House dried fruit is completely free from sulfur dioxide, and therefore completely safe for anyone—including those who have asthma or sensitivity to sulfiting agents.
How are Sulfites Regulated by the FDA?
In the 1980s several individuals developed asthma after eating fresh vegetables and fruit that were treated with sulfites. After the cases of asthma were traced back to sulfites, the FDA banned the use of sulfites on fresh fruits and vegetables in 1986. Sulfiting agents, however, have always been legal for use as a preservative in processed food products—though the FDA requires that food manufacturers must list sulfites on the label as an ingredient if their product contains more than 10 parts per million.
How Can I Known if Dried Fruit is Safe to Eat if I am Sensitive to Sulfites?
Always carefully read the labels of any dried fruit before you eat it. If it is from Harmony House, then you know it is safe because we do not use any kind of sulfites in our products.
How Freeze Dried Fruits Stay Fresh Without Sulfites
Chemical preservatives are only one way of keeping dried fruit fresh. Instead of treating our fruit with chemicals, we freeze dry our premium fruit through a safe, chemical-free process that extracts all of the water. Fresh fruit contains up to 90% water. The microorganisms (including bacteria, mold, and fungus) that cause food to discolor and go bad need water to live. Freeze dried food lasts on the shelf for years because the freeze drying process removes all of that water! Here is how it works: The food is placed into a vacuum chamber. The temperature is lowered well below freezing and the pressure is lowered. The frozen water turns directly from a solid (ice) into a gas (steam) without ever turning back into a liquid. The steam is immediately extracted from the chamber. Freeze drying preserves nutrition and flavor and keeps fruit from from going bad for years if stored properly. And you will get almost the same nutrition, flavor, and energy that you would out of fresh!
100% Sulfur Dioxide-Free Freeze Dried Fruit
All of our freeze dried fruit is preserved without sulfur dioxide or any other type of preservatives. You can rest assured that all of our dried fruits are safe for anyone who is sulfite-sensitive. If you have had reactions to any sulfating agent in the past or worry about the possibility that you or someone in your family might have an allergy to sulfur dioxide, you can confidently use any Harmony House freeze dried fruits as snacks or in cooking and baking. A list of our sulfur dioxide-free freeze dried fruits includes:
You can rest assured that we at Harmony House do not use preservatives or additives (including sugar and salt) in ANY of these dried fruits. Our freeze dried fruit is guaranteed to be 100% all natural.
Sulfite Sensitivity from the Cleveland Clinic
Sulfites from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln’s Institute of Agriculture and Natural Resources Food Allergy Research and Resource Program
Sulfites: Separating Fact from Fiction from the University of Florida’s Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences