Sulfites are sulfur-based compounds that are added to some foods as preservatives to prevent spoilage. Sulfites are commonly found in dried fruits, wine and other processed foods. According to WebMD, approximately one in every 100 individuals is sensitive to sulfites. Allergic reactions to sulfites can include asthma, hives, headaches, dizziness, nausea, cramps, and in extreme cases, anaphylaxis shock. If you suffer from sulfite sensitivity, learn how to determine the sulfite content in dried fruit, so you can enjoy this delicious food worry-free.
Read the bag of dried fruit before purchasing. The FDA requires that food companies list all sulfur agents used as preservatives in concentrations of 10 parts per million (ppm) or more. If you see the phrase, "contains sulfites" on the dried fruit package, do not purchase.
Request that the grocery store manager check the label on the dried fruit bulk packaging if you're buying the dried fruit loose from a bin. Do not purchase if this information is not available, or the words "contains sulfites" is printed on the bulk packaging label.
Ask your waiter if any dried fruit is contained in your order while dining out in a restaurant, either on the main dish or as an ingredient in a sauce. If he can't guarantee that the dried fruit being used is organic or sulfite-free, change your order to a dish that doesn't include dried fruit. Don't eat dried fruit from a salad bar unless you can read the label of the bulk packaging that it originated from. If the label warns that the dried fruit "contains sulfites," do not eat.
Buy certified organic dried fruit from reputable health food stores and online organic fruit distributors. FDA regulations prohibit the use of sulfite preservatives in organically grown and produced foods. Make sure the dried fruit clearly states that it is "certified organic" on the label package or bulk bin.