sulphiting agentA family of food preservatives (e.g., sulphur dioxide, sodium sulphite, sodium or potassium bisulphite, or metabisulphite) which are used to retard spoilage and discolouration of foods served in public places, or are added to packaged foods (e.g., canned seafood, grapefruit juice, beer and wines). While sulphating agents are usually well tolerated, up to 5% of asthmatics react to sulphites (possibly related to low levels of sulphite oxidase) with nausea, diarrhoea, bronchospasm, pruritus, oedema, hives, potentially anaphylactic shock and death. Some anti-asthmatic drugs contain sulphiting agents, thereby exacerbating the reaction.
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