Sulphite replacement in food
A new EU-funded project is underway to identify ways of replacing sulphur dioxide in products. Sulphur dioxide (sulphites) plays several important roles. Through its anti-oxidant activity it prevents enzymatic and non-enzymatic browning, whilst its anti-microbial properties help reduce spoilage.
However, its use has some disadvantages. It can elicit adverse reactions in sensitive consumers, and so is listed as one of the 14 specified 'allergens' in EU legislation that have to be declared on products. It can also strongly reduce thiamine uptake, and so is generally avoided in food products that are an important source of this vitamin.
The project - SO2SAY (Replacement of sulphur dioxide in food keeping the same quality and shelf-life of the products) - will investigate alternative approaches to preventing enzymatic browning, explore the use of replacement plant extracts with anti-oxidative and/or antimicrobial activities, and assess the use of processing and packaging under reduced oxygen atmospheres.
The work will include studies with fresh and dried fruits and vegetables, wine and beverages, and snacks and convenience products. It is anticipated that the new approaches could be used singly or in combination, depending on the application.
Contact: Craig Leadley