If you opened up a pantry belonging to any prepper, you’d most likely find a veritable cornucopia of dried foods within. It’s pretty much a staple for preppers. Unfortunately, dried foods of all kinds often come packaged with preservatives that aren’t so healthy. It can be a real challenge to find long-lasting foods that you would want to eat during an emergency, that aren’t also filled with toxic preservatives.
Among those preservatives, there’s one that most people aren’t aware of. It’s called sulfur dioxide, and it’s found in more foods than you probably realize. It can be found in wine, jam, fruit juices, shrimp, instant coffee, pickled foods, processed meats, and powdered potatoes. And the one food that probably contains the most sulfur dioxide is dried fruit. It’s typically added to all of these foods, not only to prevent bacterial growth, but to preserve the color of the food.
So is sulfur dioxide something that you need to worry about? That really depends on who you ask. The FDA has deemed it safe for most people. I say “most people” because some folks are more sensitive to it than others. About 1 in 100 people have some degree of sensitivity to sulfur dioxide, and people who are asthmatic are 5-10 times more likely to have a sensitivity.
When these individuals consume this preservative, they may face nausea, diarrhea, difficulty breathing, and sometimes full-blown asthma attacks. Occasionally this leads to death. And just because you’ve never had any harmful symptoms from eating these foods, doesn’t necessarily mean that you’re out of the woods. You can develop a sensitivity to sulfur dioxide at any point in life. It’s also important to note that even if you never have this kind of reaction, sulfur dioxide might still hurt you. A study conducted in 2004 found that sulfur dioxide, when fed to mice, would damage their DNA and cause cancer.
With that said, it may be a good idea to avoid this preservative entirely. If you avoid processed foods, then you’re already on the right track. You can also avoid sulfur dioxide by buying organic products. At the very least you should be checking the labels on anything you buy. Any food item that contains this preservative in more than 10 parts per million is required to be labelled as such to protect people who are sensitive to it.
And if you really love dried fruit and want to make it a staple in your emergency food supply, you can also make it yourself in your oven. You can dry fruit in the sun. And if you’re a real fanatic for dried fruit, you can buy a food dehydrator.