Avoiding Sulfites | Sulfites Allergy | Allergy

Avoiding Sulfites

by Allergy Guy

Avoiding sulfites is a lot easier when you have a plan, and here is a plan for you, curtsey of one of our readers.

Fresh meats of any kind are safe. Avoid processed or preserved meats like bacon, deli meats, ham, and sausage. The one exception to this rule (there’s always one) is fresh shrimp, which is treated with sulfites. If you “must” have shrimp, make sure they are wild (not farmed) and start out with peel on. Buy yourself a bottle of “3 percent food-grade hydrogen peroxide”, it is very important that the peroxide be food grade, as general peroxide you buy in the store has an emetic (it makes you throw up) in it. Dip the raw shrimp in the peroxide solution, then rinse in cool water and peel before cooking. For added sulfite reduction (or if you don’t have access to food-grade peroxide), a 5 minute rinse/dip in soda-water also reduces sulfite levels in shrimp.

Any kind of lettuce, squash, or tomato is generally safe. It’s illegal to spray produce (except potatoes) with sulfites but some places still do it (most especially for salad bars), so make sure you buy from a reputable source. (You can also dip your veggies in soda-water/seltzer for 5 minutes just prior to use.)
Most people with sulfite intolerances can manage low levels of sulfites, which is good because most vegetables have some amount of sulfite in them.
Veggies with HIGH sulfite levels include onions, garlic, broccoli, and cabbage. You should probably avoid these.
Veggies with MEDIUM sulfite levels include some of the mild (red/yellow) bell peppers, mushrooms, and cauliflower. I would avoid these at first, and then introduce them slowly. Remember that it can take up to three days for symptoms to show. Have a small portion each day for three days and see how you feel. Cooking will break down a portion of the sulfites in vegetables; I can tolerate many things if they are well-cooked that I cannot eat raw.

Pretty much all fresh fruits are safe, except grapes. However, it’s best to avoid most fruit toppings, jams, jellies, etc. For dried fruits, look specifically for fruits that say they don’t contain sulfites. If the label doesn’t specifically say it’s sulfite-free, assume that it contains at least some residual sulfites (even if it isn’t listed in the ingredients).

Condiments: AVOID bottled lemon or lime juice. Sulfites are added to keep them fresh. Besides, using fresh squeezed lemon and lime juice is so much tastier. You’ll probably want to avoid bottled juices in general. I recommend investing in a good citrus juicer to save your hands.

Avoid wine, cider vinegars, and wine vinegars (this includes balsamic). You basically want to avoid anything fermented, including horseradish, certain mustards, pickled things, and some kinds of cheese.

Rice is both gluten and sulfite free. Yummy brown rice, the grain of champions.

Steer clear of any kind or potato or corn product. This includes potato and corn starch, or potato and corn flour. Note that there is a small amount of starch (usually cornstarch) in baking powder (but not baking soda) and in confectioners sugar; most likely it won’t bother you unless you are really sensitive or actually allergic, but it’s good to know. Potatoes and corn themselves don’t contain sulfites; they are dipped in a sulfite bath prior to being processed in order to keep the final product white (and it probably prolongs shelf life). Potatoes are the only fresh produce that may legally be sprayed with sulfites (due to some rather hefty lobbying). So, if you want corn on the cob, it’s probably safe provided you buy it fresh from the produce section and not frozen. If you want fries, however, I recommend either growing the potatoes yourself or buying them direct from the grower (where you can ask those pesky kinds of questions), and then, of course, going through the hassle of making them.

Arrowroot can be substituted for cornstarch in any recipe.
Glazing sugar can be substituted for confectioners sugar in any recipe (it IS confectioners sugar, just minus the cornstarch).
Agar Agar can be substituted for gelatin in most recipes, but you may have to play with the amounts and it does change the texture a little.

I hope this helps. If someone sees any goofs, please correct them. :D

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{ 18 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Thanks that really good advice January 10, 2020 at 04:02

My sister and I are just trying to work out what makes so itchy we can’t sleep ,especially after going out for a meal ,came across sulfites and it all seemed to something we should think about I am going to try to have the foods that are sulfite free


2 Margaux January 6, 2020 at 12:42

By the way, I had exzema, hair loss, skin rashes, low-grade headaches and migraines, a constant cough which I found out was asthma and two anaphylactic reactions before I figured out I had a problem with sulfites.

I went on an elimination diet, and could not understand the foods that gave me mass headaches and made me cough as I reintroduced them.

Once I figured out what all these foods had in common, I was relieved and stressed to try and figure out what I could eat. I also use sulfite free shampoos, conditioners, hair dye (Eco Colors), and soaps, and hair products. What a relief.

Asthma and exzema are gone, and so it itching. Hair is mostly back, but more fragile than 10 years ago. No more migraines. I also take liquid B12 and it seems to have helped allow me to eat small amounts of sulfites in some foods with no reactions.


3 Margaux January 6, 2020 at 12:34

If you want to make American biscuits (or scones) use baking soda and use milk with lemon juice.
– Preheat oven to 425 degrees F or 220 degrees C

Mix all your dry ingredients well:
1 cup of all purpose flour (NOT self-rising – that has yeast)
2 TBSP of sugar (you can use sugar in the raw if no molasses)
1/3 tsp salt
1/3 tsp baking soda

Grate in and mix with hands until mixture is coarse:
1/3 of a stick of cold butter

Mix together first and then add to biscuit mixture until sticky
1 cup of milk and 1 tbsp of fresh squeezed lemon juice

Add sulfite free dried fruits and slivered almonds or chopped nuts as desired.

Drop onto a baking tray in large scooping TABLESPOONS or into a muffin tin.

Bake on next to lowest rack in oven for 12 to 13 minutes until you see a light golden color

Great for biscuits with stews or heavy soups, or as scones.


4 Allergy Guy February 14, 2020 at 21:29

Thanks for the recipe. You currently have the distinction of publishing the only non-gluten-free recipe on the entire site!


5 Linda Rees March 14, 2019 at 18:22

After 2 years of chronic exsma found out it was sulphates what a nightmare trying to distinguish what I can and can’t have


6 Susan December 31, 2015 at 21:53

Good post, also mentioned should be dried apricots if they are orange, as naturally dried ones turn brown. And, I learned the hard way that ‘organic’ varies country to country, I live in Australia. Here and New Zealand organic does not mean preservative free, learn your preservative numbers. I just switched to hard liquor, am now a vodka aficionado! However, some of the darker hard liqueurs contain sulphites – so be careful. This is the first time I’ve posted since being diagnosed a few years back, I’m so grateful to all the information on the internet – all of you out there have helped me through some very rough times.


7 Julia Trayhorn August 11, 2015 at 10:00

I have been diagnosed with a sulphite & salicylate intolerance which requires me to carry Epipens when out eating out. I have lost 2 stone in weight and finding it hard to find anything enjoyable to eat & will stabilise my weight. Due. To see a dietician in a few days but do not feel they will come up with any answers.

Finding an oat bread recipe I was looking forward to the warm bread coming out of the oven, 15 minutes later it was in the bin. Even organic can e sugar affects me .


8 cal January 25, 2017 at 23:22

found this website http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4017445/

It talks about Saccharomyces Cerevisiae, which is the yeast they use in baking, producing sulfites through fermentation.

I’ve read that raw sugar is gased with SO2 (Sulfite) before being processed further. (interesting because sulfites are used for bleaching and anti clumping). Does that mean the SO2 bleaches it to make it white? Bleaching and Anti clumping like in tapioca starch which is used in icing sugar. Brown sugar has molasses (sulfites) added. I use honey to sweeten things Stevia can have tapioca starch added to stop clumping.

At one stage I thought my son may have a problem with salicylates but since then I’ve discovered its more sulfites produced from foods containing sulfur containing amino acids (eg: methionine) and the biotin in foods (you need SAMe to
process biotin). You need folate to make SAMe. When your body has too much methionine it converts it to homocystiene. Your body then converts homocystiene back to methionine using folate and B12 to produce SAMe.

Biotin is in eggs, watermelon, peanuts, banana

Alot of berries are sulfited eg: grapes, even the pads in the berry packages contain sulfites Eg: raspberries

Maybe try grinding your own flour and using a scone dough to make things like I do. 1 cup flour + half a teaspoon of bi-carb + 1 and a half tablespoons of fresh lemon/lime juice = 1 cup of Self raising flour. I don’t use Self raising flour because it contains baking powder which could have sulfites in it due to cream of tar tar in it.

Hope this helps



9 amber February 11, 2015 at 16:35

Thank you for the information. I am figuring out that I have this allergy and researching foods. This was very helpful.


10 Jone Gesumaris August 26, 2014 at 15:01

Very helpful article…newly allergic to sulfites and a few other chemical compounds. Eating ALL organic products, do organic spices contain sulfites, I read conventionally grown spices contain it. It’s amazing how many Drs and Nutritionists I have gone to and contacted for advice and medical assistance and not one has been able to offer any solid advice with food.


11 Pip Stroud July 30, 2015 at 11:18

I am extremely allergic to sulphites and thought I knew all there was to know but have learnt even more from reading this post. THANK YOU! As far as herbs & spices go, I ONLY buy organic but there are still some (especially spices) that cause me a reaction so I suspect it is in there somehow.
I’m currently trying to find sulphite free baking soda & baking powder. Any suggestions?


12 cal December 28, 2015 at 06:58


Was looking up about baking soda, cream of tartar and baking powder tonight. Baking powder = baking soda + cream of tartar

Cream of tartar is made from the leftovers of wine making (sulfite alert) see:

I was looking up how to make my own glucose syrup because the sulfites in this has tricked us up recently. (Trying to make my son his own sweets for christmas time next year) Looks like I might be able to use lemon juice and baking soda to make things rise. Or lemon juice instead of cream of tartar in sweets. Try looking up whats in baking soda. I found this interesting.

Heard on one persons website that organic doesn’t necessarily mean sulfite free. I need to look into to this further.

Best wishes it’s not a nice allergy to have. My son gets eczema, hayfever and asthma with a touch of scary sleep apnea at night.



13 cal December 28, 2015 at 07:35

Hi again,

Forgot to metion that did you know that their is sulfites in the air from fuel emissions etc.

Don’t know if this is true from this source but they are Dr’s

Personally whenever there is cloud cover or wind it sets my son off. (maybe the by product of fossil fuel combustion (sulfure dioxide is closer to ground under the cloud cover) I keep him inside with windows shut up when there is smoke or if his dad is lawn mowing.
We went on a driving trip. He was fine with the aircon on recirculate in the car but every so often we would let in some outside air and he would be sniffly again or sneezing.

Also I’m in the process of trying to determine if childrens panadol has sulfites as a preservative in it. I saw it in adult paracetamol and was concerned about what to do when he has a temp. I called the company but they said they use acesulfame potassium as a sweetner in the children’s panadol I use. I don’t know whether that has anything to do with sulfites or not. If anyone can help on this matter that would be great.



14 Allergy Guy January 17, 2016 at 19:41

True, cream of tarter is a left-over from wine making, so I suppose it might have sulfites in it. Because it is a crystal, and because there is plenty of sulfites left in the wine, and since they are water-soluble, probably not that much would end up in the cream of tarter. This is my theory, and it would be a good idea to call a few manufacturers and find out how much sulfites are in their product. In the absence of that information, best to avoid cream of tarter if you are sensitive to it.


15 MISSY February 25, 2014 at 15:41

Hi There,

I am really allergic to wine (my tongue swells and I can’t speak for days) and also sulfa drugs. Does this mean I am allergic to all sulfites? I get sores on my tongue when I use toothpaste with sulfates listed on the ingredients. Does anyone else? What other symptoms present themselves when you guys ingest sulfites?

Any advise is helpful.


16 Mary April 9, 2015 at 01:50

Try using rembrandt toothpaste it works for me


17 millie bajer September 13, 2013 at 06:52

found this most interesting. am allergic to sulphites.
no more wine drinking for me. Vodka seems to be ok.


18 Nancy Finn January 15, 2014 at 22:03

Vodka is ok. I’ve heard it from many people including my doctor. I can drink sulfite-free wine, so you might want to try it.


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