E222 is a food additive approved by the European Union (EU) and used as an antimicrobial, antioxidant synthetic food preservative and bleaching agent in food products.
The common name for E222 is sodium hydrogen sulphite. It is also known as sodium bisulphite.
E222 prevents oxidation and helps to preserve flavour, especially in wines. E222 also helps slow the ‘browning’ of canned fruits. As with other sulphurous acid salts, the chemical’s oxidising effect has the disadvantage of reducing the vitamin content of the food containing it.
Added sulphites (E221 – E228) should be avoided if an individual is intolerant to natural sulphites. Due to the release of sulphur dioxide, such chemicals can exacerbate the symptoms of asthma - possibly bringing about an attack, as well as possibly cause gastric irritation in some people.
Uses for E222 have also been found in DNA sequencing, for example, on genes from the liver.
Examples of food and drink products that sometimes include E222:
- canned fruits
- frozen shell fish
- fruit squashes