Preservative 223 is a food additive approved by the European Union (EU) and used in food products mainly as an antimicrobial preservative. It helps in keeping bacteria out of food, as they cause rotting. It exists as white crystals or as white crystalline powder and is a sodium salt of sulphurous acid. Preservative 223 is also used as a bleaching agent in some food products.
Due to the oxidising effect of Preservative 223, the vitamin content of food may get reduced (especially vitamin B) in products.(1) Inhalation of Preservative 223 may cause irritation in the respiratory tract, leading to coughing and shortness of breath.(2) Ingesting pure Preservative 223 irritates the gastrointestinal system as it reacts with acid in the stomach and releases sulfurous acid. Ingesting high amounts may result in nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal pains, circulatory disturbance and central nervous system depression. Consumption of 10g by an average adult is fatal.(3) It causes extreme allergic reactions in some sulfite-sensitive individuals, resulting in bronchial constriction, shortness of breath, wheezing, coughing, rapid swelling of the skin, flushing, tingling sensations, gastrointestinal disturbances and shock.(4)
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