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Sulfur dioxide is used to stop wine oxidizing and spoiling, but it can cause health problems for some people. A three-year, $5-million EU-funded project has now discovered a potential replacement for SO2.

European researchers are close to finding an effective alternative to adding sulfur dioxide to red wine and other foodstuffs, which could make future holiday seasons happier and healthier for millions.

Sulfur dioxide (SO2), often labeled as E220, is used as a preservative for certain dried fruits and in winemaking as an antimicrobial and antioxidant. Most people can tolerate a small amount of SO2 in their food and wine, but for others it can cause allergic reactions or have other side effects such as headaches.

The European Union-funded so2say project believes it may now have identified a combination of two extracts that can be used instead. Both of them occur naturally in wine and could reduce the presence of SO2 by more than 95 percent, say researchers.

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