E220 – Sulphur Dioxide

What is Food Additive E220 ?

E220, also known as sulphur dioxide, is a widely used food additive known for its preservative and antioxidant properties. E220 is a natural preservative used since ancient times in the Roman Empire and ancient Egypt. It is a colorless gas obtained by burning sulfur.

Sulphur dioxide helps maintain the appearance, taste, and longevity of various food products, making it an essential component in the food industry.

Read ALSO – Expert Q&A : The Impact of Ultra-Processed Foods on Health . InfoCons Consumer Protection informs you !

What is the recommended daily dose ?

The use of E220 is strictly regulated to ensure it is safe for consumption. The recommended daily dose of sulphur dioxide is set by various health organizations to prevent adverse health effects.

In a recent evaluation updated in 2022, EFSA (European Food Safety Authority) experts concluded that sulphur dioxide (E220) and sulfites (E221228) could pose a safety concern for individuals consuming high levels in their diet. Therefore, EFSA experts established a lower confidence limit for the reference dose of 38 mg/kg body weight/day, which is lower than the previous reference point of 70 mg/kg body weight/day.

In which products is food additive E220 found? InfoCons Consumer Protection informs you!

  • Dried Fruits: E220 is commonly used in dried fruits like apricots, raisins, and figs to prevent discoloration and extend shelf life.
  • Wine: In winemaking, sulphur dioxide is added to prevent oxidation and bacterial growth, ensuring the wine retains its desired taste and quality.
  • Juices and Beverages: It is used to preserve freshness and extend the shelf life of fruit juices and other beverages.
  • Canned Foods: E220 helps maintain the color and flavor of canned fruits and vegetables.

It is also used as a bleaching agent for flour, but generally, it oxidizes the natural color of foods and reduces their vitamin content. When the food is heated, the E220 additive is released as a gas.

Do you know in which products additive E215 – sodium ethyl parahydroxybenzoate is found ? InfoCons Consumer Protection informs you !

Contraindications and Risks

Although E220 is effective in preserving food and maintaining its quality, it is also associated with certain health issues:

  • Allergic Reactions: Some individuals, especially those with asthma, may experience allergic reactions to sulphur dioxide. Symptoms can include difficulty breathing, wheezing, and, in severe cases, anaphylactic shock.
  • Gastrointestinal Issues: Ingesting large amounts of sulphur dioxide can cause stomach cramps, nausea, and diarrhea.

As consumers increasingly shift towards natural and clean-label products, the food industry is exploring alternatives to synthetic preservatives like E220. Some natural alternatives include:

  • Ascorbic Acid (Vitamin C): An antioxidant that can prevent oxidation and maintain food color.
  • Citric Acid: Widely used as a natural preservative and flavor enhancer.
  • Rosemary Extract: Known for its antioxidant properties, it can be used to extend the shelf life of certain products.


E220, or sulphur dioxide, is a versatile and effective food additive widely used for its preservative and antioxidant properties. As the food industry evolves, there is growing interest in natural alternatives that can provide similar benefits with fewer health concerns.

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Look for products that have a cleaner label or use natural additives. By installing  Consumer Protection InfoCons App and scanning the barcodes of food products, you can find out the number and type of food additives they contain.

Author – Cosmina Nițu

Master in Nutrition – Infant and new born nutrition


https://www.efsa.europa.eu/en/ – European Food Safety Authority (EFSA)

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/  – National Center for Biotechnology Information

InfoCons – European Organization for Consumers Protection and Promotion of Programs and Strategies , a full member of the World Organization Consumers International, founding member of the Federation of Consumer Associations, and member of ANEC.

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