Sulphites: how safe is the meat we eat?

Current legislation (COMMISSION REGULATION (EU) No. 1129/2011) allows the use of sulphites in sausages but prohibits it in fresh meat because it can be hazardous to consumers’ health. In Annex II Part E, it is specified that sulphur dioxide – sulphites may be added:

  • Only breakfast sausages; burger meat with a vegetable and/or cereal content of no less than 4 % mixed within the meat, with a maximum permissible level of 450 (mg/l or mg/kg, as the case may be)
  • Only fresh salsicha, fresh longaniza, fresh butifarra with a maximum permissible level of 450 (mg/l or mg/kg, as the case may be)

Excessive sulphites can cause serious consequences (e.g. anaphylactic shock) in sensitive individuals who are allergic or intolerant to these additives.

This is why it is mandatory to indicate the presence of sulphites on product labels when it exceeds a concentration of 10 mg/l or mg/kg.

There is currently no daily intake below which it is considered safe.

What EFSA says

In 2016, EFSA (European Food Safety Agency) had set the maximum daily intake at 0.7 milligrams per kg body weight. However, through the publication of EFSA’s new report of 24 November 2022, this restriction was withdrawn as the necessary data regarding the toxicity of these additives, provided by the industries or found in the scientific literature, were not available.

Although there is no longer a limit for the maximum daily intake, EFSA experts point out that studies have shown that up to 60% of adult large consumers and up to 12.5% of children potentially exceed intake levels that are generally considered safe.

RASFF alert in the European Union

Since 2020, there have been 48 alerts issued by the Rapid Alert System for Food and Feed (Rasff) for food containing an excessively high level of sulphites, or food containing sulphites not declared on the label.

Our proposal for 2023

With the aim of alternating the matrices proposed over the years, in 2023 Test Veritas decided to propose the PT for sulphites in meat (frankfurters)!

PT for the research of sulphites in meat (frankfurters)
(code M3712)

  • Test Material: frankfurters, 1 sample of 35g
  • Analytes: sulphites expressed as SO2, sulphites expressed as potassium metabisulphite, sulphites expressed as sodium metabisulphite
  • Indicative concentrations: <1500 ppm
  • Shipping date: October 16th 2023


  • For all PTs belong in the Progetto Trieste – Additives line, it is possible to submit 2 sets of results and evaluate them in the Final Report, thus, with one entry, 2 laboratory technicians, or 2 different methodologies.
  • Super convenient prices! The PTs in the additive line start at a price of only 231,00 euro.
  • The sample is ready for analysis, it does not need reconstitution.
  • International PT, Test Veritas has more than 20 years of experience as PT provider.

The PT for sulphite research is offered annually, alternating between the matrices shellfish and frankfurter. Test Veritas, however, is always attentive to the needs of its participants, which is why we ask you to fill out this very short survey (1 minute) and let us know which matrix you would like to analyse in the next PT for sulphites!

If you want to see more details about this or other PTs, such as the schedule, prices… go to this page to download the entire programme.

Here you can find information on HOW TO ORDER.

For any further information, do not hesitate to contact us at

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