Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Sulphur Dioxide and Grapes

Sulphur dioxide are two words that don't give me a warm fuzzy feeling.  Whether you know exactly what it is or not, usually thoughts of something negative and chemical come to mind.

So imagine my surprise when I found it on our grapes this morning.

I frequently buy organic grapes, but none were available at the store last night.  So I purchased regular grapes and headed home.

This morning as I was washing the grapes for our son's class snack I noticed "product of Chile" on the bag.  I usually see "product of California", so I read on with curiosity to discover the phrase "treated with sulphur dioxide to preserve freshness".  I figured, this couldn't be good.

After a little research I discovered sulphur dioxide is a poisonous gas which is sprayed on fruit, and acts as a preservative, enhancing its color and preventing mold.  Airborne inhalation of this chemical has lead to a rash of breathing problems, premature birth and premature death.

Grapes from Chile need to be picked and shipped with plenty of lead time before they hit the grocery shelves.  Sulphur dioxide, allows the grapes to be picked early and arrive looking fresh and ripe.

Asthmatics seem to be most at risk from ingesting sulphur dioxide.  For them, ingestion can increase chances of an asthmatic attack, skin rashes and upset stomach.

While generally deemed safe for consumption in small quantities in healthy people, why chance it?  I also wonder what the long-term effects of small daily doses.

Turns out California grapes are not in season and organic grapes are only in dreams this time of year.  With my only option being imported grapes,  I'll choose to pass.


  1. whats the difference, grapes from california are sprayed with flouride. cheers!

  2. Organic grapes are also treated with sulphur dioxide. If you are that paranoid you'll just have to grow your own.

  3. I just noticed the same thing last night for the first time. We live in Ecuador, and the grapes sold here come from Chile, Peru or the USA. The ones we bought yesterday are from Chile, and the bag said they contain Sulphur Dioxide. Last time I ate grapes I got a horrible rash, I thought it was because I ate too many grapes. Now I know the reason. Wish there was a way to avoid this, but they don´t sell organic grapes here.