Garry Green, the president and chief executive officer of Seawind Foods, reveals the effects of utilizing sulfur dioxide when producing dehydrated fruits. He explains to Grocery Headquarters why an all-natural process for dried fruit is beneficial and preferred.
Garry Green: The use of sulfur dioxide in fruit dehydration has been common practice worldwide for over a century. Foods treated with sulfur dioxide can cause symptoms ranging from uncomfortable to dangerous when ingested. In fact, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) banned the use of sulfur in raw foods, but still permits it in dehydrated fruits.
What is more, the use of sulfur dioxide during processing is highly hazardous as it is toxic if inhaled and corrosive to the skin if contact is made. For individuals with allergies or sensitivity to sulfites, eating dried fruit processed with sulfur can cause breathing problems, anaphylaxis or – in rare cases – fatality.
With the existing health risks associated with sulfur additives, why would anyone choose to use sulfur dioxide in fruit dehydration?
The reasoning behind sulfur additive use is hardly justifiable. Sulfur dioxide is used in fruit dehydration primarily to enhance the color of the fruit under the guise that it makes the dried fruit more attractive to consumers, similar to how apples are coated in wax to give them an appealing shine. However, this vivid color does not mean that the fruit is actually fresh. In some cases, food coloring is even added to further brighten the color of the dried fruit.
What are the advantages of using a more natural process to dehydrate fruit? How does Seawind Foods create its products?
A more natural dehydration process allows fruit to maintain its nutritional integrity in regards to vitamin A, iron and calcium. Additionally, this allows for the original flavor of the fruit to remain and may result in a darker colored fruit than those that contain sulfur dioxide.
Seawind Foods uses zero sulfur dioxide in its dehydration process and its fruits, vegetables and spices contain no genetically modified organisms (GMO), are certified Kosher and meet all standards for Good Manufacturing Practices (GMP), Food and Drug Administration (FDA), United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) and Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points (HACCP). This ensures a high level of quality and purity in our products and greater safety during processing.
Do you have any other advice for our readers?
When people are grocery shopping, it is important that consumers know that the phrase “All Natural” does not mean additive free. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) permits use of the claim “All Natural” if the fruit boil out is under 10 parts per million, even if sulfur is added. This may confuse consumers and trick them into purchasing and consuming food that contains sulfur additives.
Inform your consumers to read the label carefully to ensure sulfur is not used. Seawind fruit is truly an all-natural option with absolutely no sulfur added to our products.