Dried Apricots Recalled in 13 States for Deadly Sulfite Allergy Mislabeling

apricots drying
Trays of apricots are left to dry at a private factory on September 28, 2011. In the United States, a recall was issued Tuesday for dried apricots with sulfites. Nguyen Huy Kham/Reuters

A recall on dried apricots was issued Tuesday after it was revealed that the packaging didn't warn that the fruit might contain sulfites. Sulfites can cause life-threatening allergic reactions.

The dried fruit was recalled in 13 states across the United States, according to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. They were sold in 12-ounce, clear-plastic packages in stores in Michigan, New York, Minnesota, Kentucky, Wisconsin, Florida, North Carolina, Virginia, Oregon, Massachusetts, Ohio, Texas and Missouri.

So far, nobody has reported getting sick or having a reaction to the apricots, the FDA stated. The product, called AL Reef Dried Apricots Sour, came from Golden Star Wholesale in Michigan.

The sulfites in the fruits were found after a routine check of the food by the New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets. A test in a food lab found that there were sulfites in the fruits that were not declared on the labeling on the package the fruit came in. Anyone who bought the apricots can return them to the store where they purchased them.

What Are Sulfites?

Sulfites are a food additive used to preserve food and drinks. The term sulfites is actually a general term for the use of sulfur dioxide as a preservative. Those sulfites, when added, release the sulfur dioxide into the item and effectively keep bacteria from growing and preserve taste and color as well.

Several types of sulfites are listed on the food additive status list available on the FDA's website.

What Reactions Can Sulfites Cause?

Sulfites can cause allergic reactions or unpleasant side effects for those who are intolerant of them, according to the Australian Society of Clinical Immunology and Allergy (ASCIA).

People with asthma are some of the most susceptible to sulfites, and they can experience wheezing, coughing and tightness in the chest. Those symptoms happen in 5 to 10 percent of people, according to the ASCIA.

Extreme allergic reactions that can include anaphylaxis are incredibly rare. Those symptoms include a racing heartbeat, hives, dizziness, difficulty swallowing and even collapsing.

It's uncommon for people to test positive for sulfite sensitivity or intolerances with an allergy test. There's no reliable or easy way to test for the allergy other than purposely giving the person sulfites to ingest, according to ASCIA.