COMMON ALLERGENS → Mustard, Sulphur Dioxide

COMMON ALLERGENS → Mustard & Sulphur Dioxide


Sulphur Dioxide

GERBS ALLERGY HUB: Sulphur Dioxide Allergy


Some medicines have sulfites, so it’s important to read the label and talk to your doctor about potential complications.


  • Sulfites are food additives used to preserve food. They reduce microbial spoilage, slow browning of fruit/vegetables/seafood, and act as antioxidant, among other uses.
  • Literature suggests that those with asthma are at an increased risk for sulfite sensitivity, especially those who are steroid-dependent. This appears to be more common for adults than children.
  • Reactions include swelling, hives, and wheezing, though cases of anaphylaxis have also been reported.
  • Sulfites are considered a top allergen in the UK.

Common (and Hidden!) Sources

  • Look out for these ingredients on a label: sulfur dioxide, potassium bisulfite, potassium metabisulfite, sodium bisulfite, sodium metabisulfite, sodium sulfite, calcium sulfite, calcium bisulfite.
  • Beverages: wine, beer, vinegar, bottle lemon/lime juice, grape juice, cordials, some soda, instant tea.
  • Foods: dried fruits and vegetables, pickled foods, dried potatoes, mustard, tofu, salad dressings, fresh/frozen crustaceans, maraschino cherries.
  • Gerbs Dried Fruit is sulfite-free!


1. Improvement of mustard (Sinapis alba) allergy diagnosis and management by linking clinical features and component-resolved approaches – ScienceDirect. Accessed September 22, 2017.
2. Chen JL, Bahna SL. Spice allergy. Ann Allergy Asthma Immunol Off Publ Am Coll Allergy Asthma Immunol. 2011;107(3):191-199; quiz 199, 265. doi:10.1016/j.anai.2011.06.020.
3. Bush RK, Taylor SL, Holden K, Nordlee JA, Busse WW. Prevalence of sensitivity to sulfiting agents in asthmatic patients. Am J Med. 1986;81(5):816-820.
4. Wilson BG, Bahna SL. Adverse reactions to food additives. Ann Allergy Asthma Immunol Off Publ Am Coll Allergy Asthma Immunol. 2005;95(6):499-507; quiz 507, 570. doi:10.1016/S1081-1206(10)61010-1.