For many years we have advocated a chemical-free approach to drying foods. While many drying guides recommend using sulfur compounds (sulfites) in the preparation of dried foods, we have always warned against their use.
Once considered safe, sulfites are now coming under new scrutiny by scientists and concerned government officials. Sulfites are used in many salad bars to keep produce looking fresh. Sulfites are also routinely added to cake and cookie mixes and used to preserved canned and frozen vegetables, salad dressings, fruit juices, and, of course, dried fruits.
For many people, sulfites pose no danger. However, a large number of people are sensitive to these chemicals. Reactions may range from hives, nausea, diarrhea and shortness of breath to shock, coma, and brain damage. Asthmatics seem to be particularly sensitive.
Government officials are considering banning the use of sulfites or requiring warning labels on all foods containing them.