View Full Version : Symptoms of Sulfite Allergy

07-21-2004, 11:42 PM
Does anyone here have an allergic reaction to sulfites (campden tablets) or know someone who is? I suspect I may be in the allergic camp and would like to know the symptoms. :'(

What else could it be that might be making me sick? Would an infected batch do it?

07-22-2004, 12:04 AM
After reading a bit about sulfites, I'm ruling out the possibility that that is the problem.

Has anyone had bad experiences with the "poison alcohol" mentioned once on this forum?

07-22-2004, 01:09 AM
Would you articulate your symptoms and what you drank? It's easier to guess when there is some case history.



07-22-2004, 04:03 AM
Well to be honest I'm not certain. I drank a couple of sips and it tasted very acidic, more acidic then the other bottles. My newbie guess was that it was infected so I poured it out.

So I was very sick with pains in my stomach for about 3 days after. I had the kind of symptoms you get when you eat something bad.

So I went to taste another bottle a week ago. I had a couple of sips, but it wasn't as acidic so I thought nothing of it. And I felt sick again the next day. It felt the same only not as bad.

Both times I was sick it was from drinking my mead the day before in both cases. If I had came down with something it wouldn't have gone and came back a couple weeks later. What do you think?

07-22-2004, 05:03 AM
If it is a Sulfite reaction - you would get that from drinking almost any white wine (or red wine, but I've heard they put more in white than red, to stop oxidation browning).

A lot of people get headaches from red wine, but not from white wine - which I've heard is probably from Hystamines in the Red wine.

So - try white wine and see if you get the same reaction (which I would guess you don't).

What about your source and variety of honey?
(should be able to test this by tasting the honey - which I assume you already have)
In Australia, one company imported some honey (due to shortages) from countries that added preservatives that don't meet US regulations, but I assume that stuff didn't reach you.

(I don't think I have helped, as much as suggested ways of eliminating what it isn't :-/ )

07-22-2004, 05:14 AM
No it helps. I'm really clueless as to what could be the cause.

In relation to what someone said on another post, has anyone had experience fermenting a mead in a temperature that exceeds the max temperature of the yeast?

07-22-2004, 08:06 AM
I believe your guess is right. The batch was infected especially since it tasted acidic.

07-22-2004, 11:39 AM
I agree with Joe.

Since the sickness does not present immediately I doubt that you are drinking methanol.

It seems like a "food poisoning" kind of reaction to me. Other question to help narrow it down are:

- Was your temperature up and down/chills and fever?
- Did you have stomach cramps, vomiting, diarrhea?
- Did you have headaches, blurred vision, trouble breathing?
- Do you have a history of diverticulitis, colitis, IBS that could have been irritated by the mead you drank?
- Hypo/hyper glycemia?

There are a lot of different things it could have been, and the drink could have been the catalyst for the symptoms, or wholly causitive by itself.

You might take a pH reading with some litmus paper, or run a culture of your mead to see if anything grows. That could also help run it down. Or even take a sample to your local health department for analysis.

I hope that helps.


07-22-2004, 10:47 PM
Symptom phrase number 2. I have no doubt it was a "food poisoning" reaction. You guys are probably right, they were probably infected.

Here is what happened. When I was bottling, I prepared a bunch of bottles and had a few others sitting on the side for later with another batch. The prepared bottles were sanitized but the other bottles were not. Being the first time I've ever racked, I had no idea how many bottles I would be able to fill up with a gallon, and I thought I had more than enough bottles ready. After I had filled up the prepared bottles and realized the mead was still coming, in a pinch I washed out a couple other bottles with hot water, hoped for the best, and filled them. It was a mistake that I learned the hard way.

I will wait a few months, since the good stuff has to age longer anyway, and if a bottle still tastes acidic, I will be quick to spit it out and pour it out. Of course I will do the same if the bottle turns green or something ;D.

Thanks a bunch for the help. This also answers my question in previous posts (why does my mead taste so strange?) I've learned a great deal from this and now you have a story to pass on to newbies in the future. ;)

07-23-2004, 02:26 AM

Sorry for the pain and suffering. But, condsider it experience and some good stories for grandchildren and such.

One of the things that I do is keep my bottles inverted once I sanitize (I use a bottle rack that I made) that way I know which are sanitized and which are not. If you do not have a bottle rack then you can use either stretch wrap to cover the tops of the bottles, or parafilm:


The other thing you may want to consider is using a bunsen burner or a creme brulee torch to flame the lip of the bottle before you seal it. This kills off any little beasties hitching a ride and helps the cap to settle. Don't heat the thing up hot, just a quick circle around the lip which should take about 1/2 second.

Damn, all those years in a clinical laboratory come back to haunt me! Anyone seen my innoculation loop???


10-14-2004, 03:58 AM
I believe your guess is right. The batch was infected especially since it tasted acidic.

As a very beginner (only 4 batches bottled at this
point), I'm curious as to how I can tell acidic-food-poisoned
from acidic-just-really-acidic without downing a bottle and
waiting for the effects.

I've got a berry-pineapple-mel that just dropped clear
and it seems VERY acidic-tasting, compared to the
varietals I've done in the past. No surprise, given the
ingredients, right?

Is there an off-flavor that tends to accompany this
food-poisoning that would warn me away? During post-ferment
sweetening I downed about a cup of it and it certainly
made my face warm.

- Zweitracht

10-14-2004, 06:45 AM
sulfite allergy would cause hives, itching, swelling of the throat and eyes, and possible difficulty breathing (aka anaphylaxis). hives are normally a heralding sign. any time you get hives you should immidiately stop eating or doing whatever it is you are eating or doing and find some benadryl. you should also be sure to avoid that food/substance in the future as the next time you are exposed the reaction could be much more serious or even deadly.

What other symptoms did you have besides stomach pain? was the pain all over your abdomen or was it in a specific spot? can you describe what kind of pain it was? did it move around? was it constant or relapsing/remitting? any vomiting? i dont mean to sound invasine or weird, i'm a health care professional and was wonding if maybe i could shed some light on exactly what happened.

David Baldwin
10-14-2004, 07:59 AM
Some people while not particularly "allergic" to the sulphites may be "sensitive" to it. My wife and mother-in-law both find sulphites to be an almost guaranteed migrane trigger.

A migrane won't kill you, but you'll wish it would. :'(

11-22-2004, 09:42 AM
The swelling of the throat, tongue, and the difficulty in breathing are symptoms I experienced in my youth when I was diagnosed as to having an allergy to Sulfa ( sulfur) based medicines......I also experienced blotching of the skin....similar to hives.

I did not however get pains in the abdominal area or any other intestinal or gastric symptoms.

as far as sulfites in wine and mead I have no reaction to date.....the occasional prepackaged salad blend if not washed off... but I am happy to say my drinking of the wine and mead I have made has had no effect

The breathing difficulties are nothing to be taken lightly...one trip to the ER was due to the reaction I got from an orange soda and Southern Comfort cocktail I was drinking.....was it the soda or the alcohol...who knows but I have since switched to Jagermeister & Red Bull.....

Be careful in whatever you make....& save some for me...

11-22-2004, 10:13 AM
Hey Helios!

Where you been man? Good to see you back!


11-23-2004, 04:22 PM
Thank you.........I had to take some time away.....family matters but thats good that I stepped back. After finding the board I managed to start more batches than I could keep up with and was looking for more recipes..... My Patience was lacking and I had the tendancy to rush things...."a watched pot never boils"....and "you can't rush perfection"...so all my mead and wine have been aging....