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Sulfites and Sulfur Dioxide - What Are They and Why to Avoid Them

Sulfites and sulfur dioxide are widely used as food preservatives to prevent the discoloration and oxidation of foods such as dried fruit, wine, baked goods, and condiments, to name a few. In wine making, sulfur dioxide occurs naturally in the fermentation process. Additional sulfites are added to prevent wines from oxidizing and turning brown. The FDA regards sulfites and sulfur dioxide as generally safe, however if you have asthma, liver, or kidney problems, sulfites and sulfur dioxide should be avoided.


Sulfites are respiratory irritants. In up to 10% of asthmatics; wheezing, coughing, and tightness of the chest have occurred after the consumption of food products containing sulfites. While medical evidence is harder to come by, there have been several reported cases of hives and anaphylaxis in asthmatics after consuming sulfites.

Additionally, sulfites are broken down by the kidneys and liver. According to a study by the Third Department of Internal Medicine of Gunma University School of Medicine in Maebashi, Gunma, Japan, patients with Chronic Renal (kidney) Failure have shown elevated levels of serum sulfite compared to healthy patients. When sulfites enter the liver via alcohol such as wine, they inhibit the glutathione, which breaks down alcohol. This can result in hangovers, or "wine headaches".

Even more troublesome, a study performed by the Institute of Environmental Medicine and Toxicology in China suggests that sulfur dioxide can damage the DNA of brain, lung, stomach, liver, spleen, thymus, bone marrow, and kidney cells. This may be related to carcinogenesis and other DNA related diseases.


Clearly, sulfites and sulfur dioxide should be avoided, or at the very least, consumed in moderation. As a manufacturer, when considering a grapeseed product, such as an antioxidant supplement or grapeseed extract, it's lucrative to be aware of the sulfite and sulfur dioxide content in the grapeseeds that you source. Royal Grapeseed offers only the freshest, sulfite and sulfur dioxide free Concord grapeseeds. Because our seeds come from juice grapes, our seeds are unfermented and therefore no sulfur dioxide is being created. Within 24 hours of leaving the vineyard, our grapeseeds are cleaned, dried and stored without the use of any chemicals or preservatives. Our proprietary drying and storing method ensures that you receive only the highest quality seeds, free from any sulfites or sulfurs. Contact us today for more information and to obtain a quote.

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