New additive for healthier wine and dried fruits

European scientists have made progress in finding an alternative to the addition of sulphur dioxide to red wine and food products such as dried fruits.

Sulphur dioxide (SO2) is labelled as E220 on food labels and is used particularly as a preservative for dried fruits, and in wine production as an antimicrobial and antioxidant agent.

Most people tolerate small amounts of SO2 in their food, but there may be side-effects such as allergic reactions or headaches.

The project, funded by the European Union, announced that it may have identified a combination of two extracts that can replace SO2, both of them occurring naturally in wine.

Wine containing the new additive has already been tasted in some member states (UK, Spain and Germany) and judged to be equally as good as the wine in reference bottles containing sulphur.