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Over 99 per cent of grapes free of sulphites, CFIA

April 26, 2013  By Canadian Food Inspection Agency

Apr. 26, 2013, Ottawa, ON – A study released by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) found that more than 99 percent of fresh grape samples tested had no detectable levels of sulphites.

Sulphites are sulphur-based substances that can occur naturally in some foods and are also used as preservatives to prevent spoilage and discoloration of foods during storage and transport. Grapes are the only fresh non-processed fruit or vegetable where the addition of sulphites is permitted. While not a health concern for most consumers, sulphites can cause a serious reaction in those consumers with a sulphite sensitivity.

The CFIA tested and analyzed a total of 329 fresh grape samples for the presence of sulphites. For this survey, a variety of fresh grapes, including organic and non-organic red, green, white and black grapes, were collected from retail stores in 2010-2011. One sample of red grapes analyzed had very low, but detectable, levels of sulphur dioxide which was considered unlikely to pose a health risk to individuals sensitive to sulphites.


This survey is part of the Food Safety Action Plan (FSAP), which aims to modernize and enhance Canadas food safety system. As part of this plan, the CFIA routinely conducts targeted surveys of various food products to obtain baseline information and analyze specific hazards to determine if they pose a potential health risk to consumers. The goal is to identify risks in the food supply, limit the possibility that these risks occur, improve import and domestic food controls and identify food importers and manufacturers.

FSAP also looks to verify that the food industry is actively applying preventative measures to protect the safety of the Canadian food supply.

If a human health risk is found, a public recall notice and/or allergy alert is issued immediately.

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