Food additives: Sulphur dioxide

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Nowadays, the use of SO2 and sulphites comprises a wide array of food and drinks…

May 25, 2021

By Fran Navarro Fuentes

Food additives, according to the WHO, are “substances that are added to food to maintain or improve the safety, freshness, taste, texture or appearance of food”. Additives can be natural, i.e. derived from plants, animals or minerals, or synthetic. Either way, its use cannot mislead consumers and must have a technological function. For instance, salt (in meats), sugar (in marmalade) or sulphur dioxide (in wine) have been used for centuries with the main purpose of preserving food.

The international organism responsible for the safety of consumers regarding food additives is the joint FAO/WHO Expert Committee on Food Additives (JECFA). Only after a risk assessment is performed and it doesn’t represent a risk to health, a food additive can be used at specified levels for specific foods.

Focusing on sulphur dioxide (SO2) and sulphites, known in the food industry as E220-E228, these are used as preservatives due to their antimicrobial properties avoiding spoilage caused by microorganisms, and antioxidant properties inhibiting chemical and enzymatic oxidation, thus preventing food from darkening [1].

How did SO2 become an additive that was used in the wine industry? Well, back in the 8th century BC, houses and even ships were fumigated for vermin with sulfur power. Soon it was also noticed that the fresh fruits and flowers that were in the fumigated room lasted longer. In the wine industry, pitch was used to fill cracks in amphorae containing the wine. However, when used inside the clay jar, it didn’t fit the purpose as it was found to be soluble in alcohol. Despite this unfortunate inconvenient, its preservative qualities were quickly perceived preventing wine spoilage due to bacteria or yeast growth.

Nowadays, the use of SO2 and sulphites comprises a wide array of food and drinks such as snacks, biscuits, fruit juice, syrup, wine, cider and beer as well as fresh or dried vegetables and fruits, jam and marmalade, nuts, seafood and crustaceans and meat.

However, even though SO2 and sulphites are widely used due to its efficiency as food preservatives, they can cause dermatitis, urticaria, hypotension, abdominal pain and diarrhea to sensitive people and could represent a risk for asthma patients [2]. Therefore, maximum allowed concentrations are imposed by legislation and vary depending on the product [3].

References:

[1] The use of Sulphur Dioxide http://www.uwe-hofmann.org/The%20use%20of%20Sulphur%20Dioxide.pdf Last visited 4/4/21

[2] Vally H, Misso NL. “Adverse reactions to the sulphite additives.” Gastroenterology and hepatology from bed to bench vol. 5,1 (2012): 16-23.

[3] List of permitted preservative for each specified food and the proportion permitted: https://www.legislation.gov.uk/uksi/1989/533/made Last visited 4/4/21

EMS Taste & Test – Buffalo Wings Nutritional Results

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The Nutritional Results for our Buffalo Wings

May 21, 2021

The results are in!

Our very first EMS Taste & Test was a hit – and we’ve already had our second (but more on that to follow shortly)! The sensory test for the Buffalo Wings was a great place to start; it gives the food provider (in this case, the MDs husband, Stuart) a better idea of a flavour profile, appearance feedback and an approximate price that tasters are willing to pay for the dish. All of this information can used to help product placement and provide verified information to customers on flavour and the tasting experience. We currently offer reports of this nature to major retailers such as Lidl, who use our reports to ensure products sold in their stores are as the producer intended and meet all mandatory labelling requirements.

Our Taste & Test would not be complete without a full run-down of the nutritional content. On the front of food products, you buy in a supermarket, you will see a ‘traffic light’ breakdown of nutritional information. This is a legal requirement.

Our Buffalo Wing results are below:

Buffalo wings may not be the healthiest option on the menu and if you are trying to limit your calorie intake or avoid saturated fats or salt, maybe keep them as a special treat! However, they are very high in protein and low in sugar, so if you’re looking to bulk up a bit, hit the gym and want a bite full of protein, these maybe the ideal post work out snack!

Fun fact! Why are Buffalo Wings called buffalo wings when there is no buffalo meat to be found?

It is generally agreed by historians that Buffalo wings were invented by an eating establishment called Anchor Bar in Buffalo NY USA —or rather, their owner Teressa Bellissimo did — the rest of the origin varies but a popular story is after being accidentally shipped wings instead of other chicken parts and, as such, the now famous snack was invented out of a desire not to waste perfectly good poultry. (ref: https://www.tasteofhome.com ; https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Buffalo_wing)

If you’re interested in having a go at making these sumptuous buffalo wings at home, click here, put ‘Buffalo Wings’ in the subject line and we will send you the recipe!

One year on: reflecting on our first year in our head office

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After a year of set-backs for some, our Managing Director, Jennifer, celebrates our successes on the first anniversary of our offices and chemistry building.

March 15, 2021

By Jennifer Newton

A year after the pandemic hit the UK, stories are popping up everywhere to mark the anniversary that our normal lives changed. Of course, the pandemic has affected us, but we mark the 15th March 2021 for a positive reason. It is now a year since we moved into our new head offices and custom-built chemistry lab at Unit 5 Mill road Industrial Estate.

In November 2019, it became apparent the unit we were operating out of at 42 Mill Road Industrial Estate was not fit for our growth aspirations. Space was getting tight in the offices as well as the chemistry lab. Will and I were pondering what to do to find more space when serendipity struck and a building which had lay empty for over eight years had a new “for rent” sign up. We acted fast over the Christmas holidays getting in touch with the estate agents and getting access to see inside.

Chemistry lab before

What we found was plenty of usable space, but a lot of work was going to be required to get the building back into tip top shape. The clincher on whether this new building would work, was if we could get a direct line of communication with the micro lab 200 meters away. It just so happened this single-story building had a “folly tower”, basically a two story tower with nothing in it, but a proud place to display a sign. This tower was high enough for us to get the line of site and a seamless communication link which allows both buildings to work in real time with each other.

Chemistry lab after

After frantic negotiations with the owners, we gained entry on the 31st January 2020 and hit the ground running, replacing flooring, carpeting and lights. We laid new drainage and repaired broken ones. We altered the office layout and added two more rooms. We installed new boilers and instated benchwork and tons of electrical points for the chemistry lab. We even had to replace the cat cabling to bring the infrastructure up to current standards.

Our contractors worked tirelessly, as did Will answering the endless questions on where, how and when things needed doing. Then on the 15th March we moved in – no time to spare before the country went into lockdown. Had we delayed even a day, the outcome would have been very different; caught between an unfinished building and an unsuitable one (with no lease). Luck was certainly on our side. If we had not moved when we did, working under the Covid regulations would have been very different with social distancing near impossible to maintain.

Kitchen before
Kitchen after

So, a year on instead of having to decrease our activities we have managed to expand our services with new accredited methods in the chemistry lab, increase the number of technical and customer services personnel and a brand-new Communications Manager to boot. As the offices and the chemistry lab grew so did the micro lab, and we had to rent more warehouse space and a dedicated workshop for our maintenance department. We are now investigating the possibility to move our media production lab to the Unit 5 site (which has loads of surrounding land) to accommodate their continued growth in animal by-product, CSPO (Control of Salmonella Order), food and water testing. Looking back over the year I am proud of what we have accomplished during what can only be described as dark times. As the world returns to normal, I see us attaining even more lofty goals based on the evidence of what we accomplished last year.