The Es in Dried Fruits - (PART 2)
1. Sulphites (E220 - E228)
2. Artificial food dyes (E102 and
3. Benzoic acid (E210) and Sodium
4. Potassium sorbate (202)
Sulphites (E220 - E228)
Did you know that sulphur dioxide (E220; the main star of the sulphite preservative group) is derived from coal tar? COAL TAR!
Whoa! US FDA actually restricts manufacturers from using sulphur
dioxide in raw vegetables and fruits. That bad but it is the
mainstay in preserving dried fruits!
Sulphites come in various forms (what a mouthful it will be
later when you read it) such as:
1. Sulphur dioxide (E220)
2. Potassium sulphite
3. Sodium sulphite (E221)
4. Calcium sulphite (E226)
5. Sodium metabisulphite (E223)
6. Calcium hydrogen sulphite (E227)
7. Potassium metabisulphite (E224)
8. Potassium bisulphate (E228)
Have you seen how freshly cut apples turn brown, after
moments being exposed to air? That is why sulphites,
particularly sulphur dioxide, are added to dried fruits - to
delay browning and to maintain their natural colors. Sulphites
also enhance the shelf-lives of dried fruits
by preventing microbes from growing.
Asthmatic person, including people with allergy problems beware!
You will be prone to these types of preservatives. Sulphites can
cause hyperactivity, trigger asthma attacks, allergies. Symptoms
reported include difficulty in breathing, hives and even
Addition of sulphites may also destroy vitamins in the fruits
Artificial Food Dyes (Common ones: Sunset Yellow FCF
Everyone loves rainbow - colorful to eyes, and pleasing to the
souls. Who wants to see black and white (not literally) foods at
Thus, some manufacturers want to cheer you by adding artificial
colorings. Hey, colors color your life, aren’t they? Geez, why
we need colorings?
• Enhance the original colors of the dried fruits lost during
• Enhance the colors to appeal to the customers
Lo and behold!
In some countries, manufacturers are not required
to label what type of colorings they used. Thus, the word
‘artificial colorings’ or ‘colourings’ is sufficient and this
could happened due to lack of enforcement. Well, that is not
sufficient for us, consumers.
Artificial colorings bare their true colors (pun
intended) by causing side effects like hives, allergies,
asthmas, hyperactivity and even cancer!!!
Benzoic acid (E210) and sodium benzoate (E211)
Did you know that sodium benzoate is largely used as an additive
(anti-corrosive) in engine coolants! And you find such chemicals
used in dried fruits? Oh yes, you do.
Benzoic acid (E210) and sodium benzoate (E211) extend the shelf
lives of dried fruits. They are favored due to their tasteless
and odorless characteristics. They are also found in your
everyday soft drinks. Limited data* has been collected on the
harmful dangers of those preservatives, based on a
collective-reviews report, published by the
World Health Organization (WHO) in 2000. However, due to the
fact that the data is limited, caution of possible dangerous
long-term health effects could be ‘lying beneath still waters’.
They have been linked to various ailments like allergies,
asthma, skin irritations, hyperactivity, gastric irritation and
The use of benzoates is highly restricted in some countries.
Potassium sorbate (E202)
They act as antimicrobial agents that prevent the growth of
bacteria, yeast, moulds and fungi, thereby extending the
product’s shelf life.
Although known as the milder dried fruit preservatives, in rare
cases, potassium sorbate may trigger skin irritation, rashes,
asthma and hyperactivity. It may also affect children’s healthy,
behavior and learning capability.
Like the chicken and egg theory, dried fruit producers and
science experts are debating the long-winded safety issues of
“A little of this and that (the chemicals) is okay”, says the
dried fruit producers. Health experts rebuke, “Small amounts in
a day go a long way to damage your health – that is not okay!”
What can you do as consumers?
Read the labels and avoid purchasing products which might kill
you (ok, this may be ‘a little’ exaggerating). Notice the
E-numbers. If the products use lots of ‘E stuffs’, then reduce