Dried Fruits and Sulfur Dioxide
Sulfur dioxide is what forms when sulfur is burned; it is commonly used to treat dried fruit to keep them from browning.
Like many elements on the FDA’s GRAS list (Generally Regarded As Safe), the actual safety of the element for human consumption is debatable and the FDA has asked for further studies. At the same time, the FDA has no regulating figure on the maximum amount of sulfur dioxide that can be used.
Sulfur dioxide itself is very poisonous; inhalation of the gas can be highly irritating to the lungs and can even cause death (in concentrated amounts).
Although sulfur dioxide fumes aren’t inhaled by the consumer of dried fruits treated with the gas, the residues left on the fruit alter its nutritional value and can effect the body.
Beside destroying part of the B vitamin complex contained in food treated with sulfur dioxide, a 1933 report (called “100,000,000 Guinea Pigs; Dangers in Everyday Foods, Drugs, and Cosmetics”) found that daily portions of 3/10 to 1 gram (about as much as is found in 6 ounces of dried fruit) over a period of months caused different problems in individuals, including “destruction of corpuscles in the blood, anemia, belching of sulfur dioxide gas, inflammation of the mucous membrane of the mouth, symptoms of malaise, headache, backache, nausea, albumin in the urine, sensation of cold, etc.)”.
Sure you may not eat that amount of dried fruit everyday for months straight but here’s where the controversy comes in. Since there’s proof that sulfur dioxide builds up in our body, if we eat the occasional dried fruit treated with sulfur dioxide – how many years would it take for the effects to show up? Is it all just a coincidence that an overwhelming number of elderly are low in B vitamins, suffer from anemia, experience the effects of destructed corpuscles in the blood, suffer from malaise, experience “unexplained” headaches, backaches, nausea, etc.
When you need the occasional prune treatment or buy a whole grain cereal with fruit added, it may be worth the little bit of extra effort and expense to get unsulfured dried fruit.
Do you have words of wisdom on this matter? Let us know.