The proposed studies will address the fate of sulphur dioxide and other sulphiting agents (in treated foods), examining their conversion to sulphate and the factors involved. The relevance of this lies in the observation from previous studies that any inorganic sulphur compound may contribute to sulphide generation in the colon. Thus a more appropriate acceptable daily intake (ADI) for sulphur-containing food additives may include both detected SO2 and oxidised sulphur compounds (SO42-) from sulphiting agents. The studies proposed are directly relevant to considerations of the toxicity, and safe and actual limits of intake of sulphur-containing compounds in the diet.
Sulphiting agents (E220-24 and E226-28) are food additives that are widely used as preservatives in foods and beverages. Prolonged high intakes of sulphites could cause stomach irritation, abdominal pains and vomiting. Ingestion of sulphites can cause bronchoconstriction or bronchospasm in some asthmatics. Legislation governs how much sulphiting agents can be added to foods and beverages. Following addition of sulphiting agents to the foodstuff, sulphite may be oxidised to sulphate. Sulphate is not routinely measured in sulphited foodstuffs, but the presence of this substance may have important implications for total sulphur intake.
<p>Find more about this project and other FSA food safety-related projects at the <a href="http://www.food.gov.uk/science/research/" target="_blank">Food Standards Agency Research webpage</a>.