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FSIS 54/04

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Food Survey Information Sheet 54/04: Survey of Sulphur Dioxide in Soft Drinks is part of the Occupational Health & Safety Information Service's online subscription. Bringing you a comprehensive selection of legislation, regulations, guidance, standards, including BSI and best practice which is updated daily, you can find documents on a wide range of subject areas such as Food & Drink, Environmental Health, Environmental Management, Fire & Offshore Safety.

Publication Date:
June 2004


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Explanatory Note:
Survey of Sulphur Dioxide in Soft Drinks Sulphur Dioxide is a widely used food preservative whose main function is the control of microbial spoilage. Sulphur Dioxide is added to food in the form of sulphites, E220 - 228. Sulphites are permitted in certain soft drinks, breakfast sausages, burger meat and other food products. The use of Sulphites in food is controlled by The Miscellaneous Food Additives Regulations 1995 (as amended). The survey looked at the levels of Sulphur Dioxide in certain fruit drinks and a second part of the survey is to take place looking the use of sulphites in breakfast sausages and burger meat. These have been chosen, as the levels of consumption are likely to be a major contributing factor to Sulphur Dioxide intake of people. The survey has considered the following: Sulphur Dioxide (E220), potassium bisulphite (E228), potassium metabisulphite (E224), sodium bisulphite (E223), sodium sulphite (E221), calcium sulphite (E226) and calcium hydrogen sulphite (E227). All of these can convert to Sulphur Dioxide and are measures and expressed as Sulphur Dioxide. Drinks sampled were concentrates based on fruit juice (squashes), lemon and lime juice and concentrated based on fruit juice containing not less than 2.5% barley (barley waters). Samples were taken from Scotland, Northern Ireland, Wales and England and were purchased from supermarkets and independent retailers. All products had to have at least six weeks remaining of their shelf life to be included in the survey. All samples had to be within the following criteria: Squash products had to be pre-packed dilutable drinks All samples had to declare at least one preservative E220-E228 Bottles of all sizes and packaging formats were considered The range of brands were included (economy, own brand, premium etc) as were sugar free products Products had to have a legible batch code, best before date and be unopened. All samples tested were within statutory limits, indicating that manufacturers within the survey were complying with this aspect of legislation. As sulphites are chemically unstable within foods further surveys are being completed.

Food Standards Agency

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