2012-2013 Sulphites in Fruit and Vegetable Based Products

Executive Summary

The Food Safety Action Plan (FSAP) aims to modernize and enhance Canada's food safety system. As part of the FSAP enhanced surveillance initiative, targeted surveys are used to evaluate various foods for specific hazards.

Sulphites are used in food products as a preservative and to maintain colour. They are frequently added to dried fruit and vegetable products, as well as in juices, jams and fillings. Over the past few years there have been products recalled due to health risk to sensitive individuals from undeclared sulphites. The main objectives of the undeclared sulphites in fruit and vegetable based products survey were:

  • to obtain baseline information regarding the presence and levels of undeclared sulphites in fruit and vegetable based products, and;
  • to identify potential food safety concerns relating to undeclared sulphites in fruit and vegetable based products

A total of 492 fruit and vegetable based products, including jams, spreads, juices, and fruit filled snack foods were analyzed for the presence of undeclared sulphites. Of the 9 samples that contained undeclared sulphites (1.8%), 5 were fruit spreads, 1 was a vegetable based product, 2 were separate samples of the same fruit filled cake and one was a fruit juice based salad dressing.

All positive samples were followed up by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency. Follow up actions may involve a food safety investigation, including a health risk assessment conducted by Health Canada and a recall or one of the following: notification to manufacturer/importer and/or additional sampling.

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