Canadian Food Inspection Agency tests fruit spreads for sulphites

Publication date: 16.08.2012

Author: CFIA

As part of the Canadian Food Inspection Agency's (CFIA) routine testing of various food products, a study released today found that 94% of fruit spread samples tested did not contain undeclared sulphites. One product found to contain undeclared sulphites was immediately recalled.

The study included 48 fruit spreads (butters, jams, jellies, marmalades and preserves) taken from retail stores in 2010-2011. They were analyzed for undeclared sulphites. Health Canada assessed the three samples (i.e. 6%) that contained sulphites. One product was determined to pose a health risk and was immediately recalled. The sulphite levels in the other two products were considered to be safe for human consumption.

Sulphites are often added to foods as a preservative to prevent spoilage and/or to maintain colour. They could also be present due to cross contamination during food production. While not a health concern for most consumers, sulphites can cause a serious reaction in consumers with a sulphite sensitivity.

When there is a detection of elevated levels Health Canada completes an assessment to determine if the specific level poses a health risk, based on the contaminant's level, expected frequency of exposure and contribution to overall diet. These factors help determine whether further action is needed, up to and including product seizure and/or recall. If a human health risk is found, a public recall notice is issued immediately.

Further information on this survey report is available on the CFIA website.