About Me and What I Am Doing Here

I was diagnosed in late 2008 with a severe sulfite sensitivity.  At that moment in time I was SICK.  I mean sick sick – numerous trips to the ER, twice weekly acupuncture, blood pressure stroke high, and a dark outlook on the world that cumulatively was crippling me.  I had been sick for years. I was on medication for asthma, IBS, Raynaud’s syndrome and that wasn’t even treating the stuff that made me feel bad! I got sick enough to think I was going to die – and then I got sicker and thought the dying thing might be a relief. I made a list of loved ones and started calling them to tell them I loved them. I was 42. Then, my lovely 5-year old niece, Morgan, asked me on Christmas Day why my hands were so hot and red.  I didn’t know – so I did a little research. And suddenly it all started to make sense.  Through other people’s anecdotes of their sulfite sensitivities and information from countries where sulfites are considered one of the most common allergens, I came to understand what was going on with my health. Luckily, I have an amazing doctor that is open to holistic medicine. She believed ALL my symptoms – and agreed to let me try the alternative therapies I discovered.  I have had a long, tiring, often frustrating, sometimes disheartening path of discovery and growth and ultimately a return to health.  I have learned a lot, cried a lot and given up a lot.  I have also gained a whole lot in return – support, caring, good health, and lots and lots of good food.

When I write it out, that sounds like one of those testimonials from someone trying to sell somebody something.  But I have nothing to sell, I am just trying to find my way.  Once I was diagnosed, and starting to feel better, I thought to myself – what about all those people who KNOW something’s wrong but don’t know what the heck to do about it?  of course, the only thing you CAN do about is eat really well, but it’s hard to eat well if you can’t cook. But I cook – and I love it.  And so – through surprisingly difficult and hellacious website creation learning curve – here I am.  To help.  But – let’s be serious – I am not a doctor.  There are many sensitivities and most people have more than one.  I am only focusing on one thing and if you are as sick as I was, it’s likely you have multiple issues.  So, take charge of your health here, proceed with caution, only eat what you know to be safe and don’t sue me.  Because this is for entertainment purposes only. Especially if you are entertained by eating.

I can’t remember a time in my life that I didn’t cook.  When I was growing up I was in the kitchen every day with my mom, learning how food was prepared – how the flavors mixed, how the textures worked together. So, for me, the idea of never eating prepared foods again seemed like a scheduling issue, but not a hugely daunting task.  So – I cooked.  And cooked.  I made some mistakes and had reactions.  I asked questions of people who have walked this path before me. And I cooked some more.   The more people I met with this same sensitivity and the more ideas I got from them began to make me realize that I am lucky, because not everyone can take a recipe that is full of sulfites and recreate it to be healthy, delicious and preservative free!

And I am not just lucky because some people have it worse off than I do. I am lucky because ultimately I have come to believe this “problem”, this “issue”, this “thing”, is really a gift. So many good things have come to me on this path – a healthier outlook on life, amazing friends, fantastic health care practitioners, a push to find my path back to natural living.

Ultimately, I created this website to share ideas.  It has been so frustrating to find a different answer everywhere you look, to have to troll dozens of sites to find hard information at that one little thing that might or might not be making you suffer. And, honestly, more importantly, I’m doing this for me because I want ONE PLACE for my recipes. All those little scraps of paper are making me crazy. I am also hoping for input from people who discovered things I don’t yet know. There is no place out there that I feel is a comprehensive overview of this beast, and I want to learn more.  Feel free to send me thoughts on things I forgot, questions, recipes you desperately want to have but can’t figure out how to de-sulfite or your own fabulous creations.  It is all about the sharing. I am willing to admit I can’t eat everything I see, but I am going to figure out a way to have one of everything I want.  Hold the sulfites.

91 Responses to About Me and What I Am Doing Here

  1. Kathryn says:

    This is a wonderful blog. I found this thanks to someone commenting on my blog post about sulfites. I was diagnosed with a sulfite sensitivity back in the mid to late 70’s.

    • Tracy says:

      Hi Kathryn – I am glad you like it – it is going to be better soon – I had some major technical difficulties about two weeks ago and lost the entire site and have been rebuilding it.Sorry for the formatting glitches and you will soon see all the rest of my recipes restored.Sadly I have lost forever all the wonderful comments I have gotten. Let me know if you have any questions!@


      • Stuart Buckland says:

        Hi Tracy
        I don’t know how to contact you through your website so I have replied through someone else’s post .
        I am 65 years old and only discovered my allergy to sulphites two years ago. I have a 7 year old son who also has it and two older daughters that have sulphite intolerances .
        I have found your website very interesting and can confirm that I get help by taking concentrated vitimen B and antihistamine ( fexofenadine) and daily steroids in the form of Symbicort 200 inhaler .
        For your readers information I have found that virtually all vanilla flavours other than real vanilla essence are etreamly high in sulphite being made from burning of a tree bark and believe that this is the cause of my sons reaction when he eats Nutella hazelnut spread. I thought for years that I was allergic to prawns but now know it is the anti blackening agent that they use.Many fish and chip shops and other restaurants use an anti browning agent on there potatoes to stop pre prepared raw potatoes from going brown before making there fries .
        Both my father and grandfather went to their graves not knowing that they were allergic to sulphite and it crippled my father for years.
        I have to have special sulphite free injections at my dentist and doctors .
        Stuart Buckland England

      • Carmen says:

        Hi Tracy
        I’m new to the sulphite phenomena … my partner has been critically ill since children with acute asthma / respiratory disease. He suffers badly with regular life threatening asthma attacks, pneumonia, pleurisy & scarring on his lungs.
        He is under daily specialist care for his condition. In wanting to help him I have begun a journey seeking asthma triggers in foods and discovered the enemy in sulphites. My partner is 61 yrs having suffered for so long, our relationship is newish and I believe that me taking charge of his food quality is the beginning of his new healthy life.
        Am after recipes and want to know your website. Please let me know of recipe ideas …
        Many thanks Carmen

      • Kerri says:

        Hi Tracy,
        I was looking for your full name or trying to find out if you have a facebook to follow? I am new to everything and trying to get a doctor to tell me I am not crazy and would like to follow someone who knows what they are talking about. Thanks

  2. Yvette says:

    Hi Tracy,
    Sorry about the issues with the site. I wanted to ask you how long your detox symptoms lasted and what they were. I had a good patch for a few days and then have been down ever since. It seems worse than the symptoms of sensitivity. I have exams and am struggling with the symptoms. Hoping they will lift soon. This question is open to anyone who is or happy to jump in. I am looking for some hope that this might end soon.
    Yvette 😀

    • Tracy says:

      Hi Yvette –
      I will get the site back to normal very soon, no worries. My detox lasted about 4 – 5 weeks. It was definitely worse that the regular reaction symptoms. My throat swelled on a daily basis really badly, I had rashes, heart racing, IBS, asthma, tachycardia, dizziness, confusion, irritability and dyslexia. It has been a while, so I don’t remember if I had other symptoms. It was really bad. I would try some Epsom salt and baking soda baths to draw out toxins. Don’t stay in for more than 10 minutes, though, or you will start to reabsorb the toxins. You could also drink some baking soda in water, but don’t use more than about 1/4 teaspoon or you will get diarrhea. What symptoms are you having? Sorry you are dealing with this during exams!!


      • jean luc says:

        Epsom Salts are Magnesium Sulphate
        and are not advisable for people with sulfite sensitivity.

        Magnesium Chloride is preferable.

        A big factor that makes for sulfite sensitivity is genetic and linked to the methylation cycle. CBS , SUOX are two genes necessary for proper sulfite metabolism and usually respond to molybdenum supplementation.

        Below are a few experts:
        Sterling Hill
        Ben Lynch, ND
        Amy Yasko, PhD
        James Roberts, MD

        Sterling Hill provides a link to interpret 23andME genetics tests:


        Ben Lynch, ND :

        Amy Yasko, PhD is an excellent resource: http://forums.phoenixrising.me/index.php?threads/heres-the-cbs-sulfate-sufite-answer.15113/


        Addressing CBS Mutations

        In my opinion, CBS mutations significantly add to the challenges of treating autism, making them a first priority for those who have one or both of the two CBS SNPs. Typically, methylation cycle mutations lead to decreased or impaired enzyme function, but the CBS SNPs lead to increased enzyme activity (called “upregulation”). What effects does this produce?

        The CBS enzyme is located right between homocysteine and the rest of the transsulfuration pathway, where it acts as a gatekeeper. With this upregulation, the “gate” is always open, sending all of the nutritional support used in this program down a road that does not lead to glutathinone but instead depletes the rest of the cycle. Instead of being directed to produce glutathione, which helps the body to detoxify, our supports head out the open CBS “gate” into the transsulfuration pathway, and may end up as harmful byproducts, such as excess ammonia and sulfites.

        and James Roberts, MD:

        Here is a quote from Dr Roberts’ website:

        “Methyl Cycle Genomic analysis is demonstrating Trans-Sulfuration (CBS up regulation or BHMT down regulation) abnormalities in 90% of our patients with unexplained disease states who undergo testing. Dietary change and nutritional supplementation, designed to fit the genotype of the patient, is turning around the lives of some previously quite ill people. The “tip offs” to a Trans-Sulfuration Methyl Cycle defect are sulfite sensitivity (and to a lesser extent asthma and easy bruising), a low or low normal homocysteine level, and an elevated urine sulfate level – but so far sick people who are not getting better all seem to have this problem!”

        • Tracy says:

          I have always found that epsom salt baths are an almost immediate cure for a reaction for me – sulfates are no problem. However, this seems to be lots of good information, I will check it out. Thanks!

          • Kelly says:

            Exactly Tracy. Jean-Luc is wrong, as is Yasko.

            Sulfates are not the problem…it’s the inability to convert SULFITES into sulfates.

        • levelheaded says:

          Thanks, Jean Luc! Your impressively-cited message was the prompt I needed to finally and seriously begin researching my genome markers. On the one hand, trial-and-error nutrition selections seem like such a gamble, but on the other hand, I think I’m being a coward for not adding more variety to my diet. I really would like to get a handle on the biochemistry of this malady.

        • Hally DeCarion says:

          Thank you for this post Jean Luc, What you wrote about in the 23@Me testing applies to me. That’s where I found out about this sensitivity. I was glad about that. Now, by trial and error, I am lowering my intake. I was eating almonds and grapes every day. Not the best things for sure. Thank you Tracy so much for setting up this website. I’m learning so much and I know what you mean about having everything in one place. Good for you and for us!

  3. Yvette says:

    Thanks for getting back so fast, sulphites have always attacked my nervous system. I get flu like symptoms, chills, headache every day, sinus symptoms, throat issues, joint pain and muscle aches. This time however I have been having digestive issues as well. One of the things with how I am eating is that I suspect I am eating a higher level of nutrition and I am not eating as much. I have been losing some pretty significant weight. I have lost 7 pounds this week alone. I am thinking that it is likely adding to detox because my body is trying to process the lost fat as well as get rid of the excess sulphites in my system. It is just comforting to know that others experienced the same and I guess helps normalise what is going on. I would bet my life that the symptoms will end the day after my exams are over 😀 I just wish it wasn’t heavy science, maybe then I would have a chance in hell of passing lol. Oh, by the way, I was under the impression that baking soda was processed using sulphur dioxide and was not on the menu, do I have that wrong? It is one of the issues I am having, that there is no safe raising agent. If I am wrong about that, that would be awesome. Thank you so much for your help, makes me feel less alone in hell, I’m sure you know what I am talking about. 🙂

  4. ange says:

    HI Tracy – sorry to see you have had such a bad time with the site, good on you for rebuilding.

    I’m thinking about buying a soda stream so I can carbonate water at home, maybe add some home made fruit syrups – anyone know if this is safe?
    I’m also making some home made corn chips – they are in the oven as I type, will let you know how they go – I can’t go near anything resembling masa harana – these are made straight from the cob


    • Tracy says:

      Hi Ange –
      My boyfriend bought me a soda stream for Christmas and I have been using it just fine. I mixed it with pomegranate juice and it was delicious! Most of the time I just have it plain, though. Definitely let me know how the corn chips go, that is a great idea!


  5. ange says:

    great re the soda stream, pomegranate one of my favourite flavours.

    the corn chips are pretty good – heres what I did – remove the corn kernels from two cobs, blend with juice of one lime, add salt and a little flax seed flour, then spread onto baking paper on a very low oven on fan bake for several hours until it dried out, break into chips, cool, then final dry on a higher oven for a few minutes. Can use for tostadas also. I’m liking – bit worried about the flax seed and sulphites, but okay so far.


    • Kathryn says:

      Sounds pretty interesting! Maybe when I get corn back into my diet, I will give it a try.

    • Dixie Lee says:

      I’ve been dehydrating veggies into a slurry like fruit leather for a few years. What a blast! I actually processed a sort of salsa type recipe and mixed in a few ground nuts to the soupy mix so it would stay on the dehydrator tray until it got dry and I got incredible “crackers” made of tomato, pepper, onion, carrot, tomatillo, and either ground nuts or seeds. (chia, flax, sesame). They can also be HALF dried and then frozen (otherwise will mold) and used as chewy raw “bread” for soup-dipping. I do the same thing with fruit, (cherries, pears, et al) and the half-dried frozen bars turn out much like brownies.

  6. Marty says:

    Hello-Thank you for your site. You seem to know so much about this topic that noone else seems to be able to help us with. My daughter (21) has developed an allergy to (we are most certain) sulfites, and we are beyond frustrated and scared. She, unfortunately, has asthma so her reactions are quite severe including hospitalization and ventilator time 🙁 We are having a terrible time figuring out what she can eat. She is away at college which makes it so difficult for her to cook for herself. She even has reactions here at home when I cook everything from scratch. She reacted tonight to baked organic chicken, baked potato with yogurt (instead of sour cream) and homemade cranberry sauce (which she so loved as she can’t have any sauces whatsoever). I am wondering if you know if cranberries are often sprayed with sulfites before harvesting? It is the thing I suspect most from the list as she has had the other foods very recently. Also, I know you have questions about canola oil, so what cooking oil do you use? Any advice, suggestions, words of wisdom you might have would be so appreciated. We feel so alone and lost in this mess.

    • Tracy says:

      Hi Marty – Welcome! I am so, so sorry your daughter is going through this. It is so hard and I can only imagine what it must be like at that age. It really can leave you feeling all alone when you can’t enjoy the foods/drinks and sometimes just being in the places that everyone else can! So as far as the reaction to dinner and her reaction. I have lots of questions and possible culprits. What did you put on the chicken? What is the ingredient list on the yogurt? What is the ingredient list for the cranberry sauce? Please specify if all ingredients are organic or not, and on the herbs/spices, let me know what form they are in – crushed, whole, powdered. Each one of those things could have hidden sulfites.There are also lots of environmental possibilities – perfumes, car exhaust, cigarette smoke. You didn’t mention what she had to drink, that could be a factor as well. Yes, cranberries can absolutely be sprayed, I only use organic. There are several sulfur based sprays that are used on crops that I react to. I don’t even bother with tree fruit or most berries anymore. The farmer’s market is my friend.

      The big problem you will see as time goes on is all the maybes. Can she have yogurt – maybe, depending on what else is in it. Can she have chicken? Maybe, depending on what goes on it.

      As far as oil – I use organic olive oil (but NEVER from Italy – they have a huge problem with the Italian mob controlling olive oil sales and it is often mixed with other cheaper oils like soybean). I also used sunflower, safflower, avocado, sesame and toasted sesame (this makes for some delicious rice dishes and will get her that flavor she is missing from the sauces.

      As far as advice, avoidance and vigilance – learn as much as you can about all the hidden sulfites and all the different disguises they can come in. Remember that reactions are often delayed 24 – 36 hours so you have to look at everything she ate in that time frame, not just the last meal. You might want to think about supplementing with molybdenum and/orvitamin B12 – deficiencies in both are tied to sulfite issues. A good epsom salt bath can draw out the toxins pretty quickly if she is reacting – but no more than 10 minutes or she will start to reabsorb the toxins. This is also a great way to get your magnesium and – believe it or not – your sulfates. The body converts sulfites to sulfates, which we need – and when your body doesn’t do that, you don’t get sulfates and it adds to the symptoms – and there is not a food form of sulfate,so this is the only other way you can get it. I will drink baking soda mixed in water to fight a reaction as well – it is awesome – but be VERY careful – too much will give her really uncomfortably bad diarrhea. About 1/4 – 1/2 teaspoon sipped over an hour in water is all I can do. I also do acupunture and reflexology. It keeps me balanced. Try to remind her that part of the reactions are emotional – that sense of doom, the dread and feeling like you are going to die is in part a chemical reaction. That is one of the worst symptoms. People do lessen the severity of their symptoms by strict avoidance, so it is possible. There is still plenty of delicious food out there to eat, so although she may have to forego some favorite comfort foods, she won’t be eating “boring” food for the rest of her life.

      I don’t know if I have any words of wisdom, considering my dating history 😉 but I do have some words of comfort. You can live with this, and live well. It is hard, but it is a very healthy way to live. It is going to be a process. An elimination diet is a good place to start – I am VERY lucky not to have multiple sensitivities, but about half the people I know on sulfite chat boards do. the elimination diet will tell her what exactly she is reacting to. Two words of caution, though. She may, as I did, go through a detox period after getting totally clean. I sat on the couch every day for 30 days thinking I was going to die from my heart palpitations and throat swelling shut. It SUCKED – but on the other side I felt alive again. The other is you have to adhere to the diet 100% or it won’t tell you anything – and it is HARD. And I am an old broad who controls all my own food. I cannot imagine how you can do it off in a dorm.

      There are some things you can do to help. Set her up with organic spices and herbs so she can season her own food. Make things like beef jerky that travel and store well. I have chia seeds for breakfast every day because they are high in protein.

      Listen, I know what a hard time this must be. If you want to talk, PM me and I will give you my phone number so we can talk through some stuff. There is a lot to learn.

      Big hugs to both of you – it WILL get better!!!!

      • Marty says:

        Hi, Tracy. Thanks SO much for getting back to me. We are coming to better terms with this whole thing, I think, but it is a process. It is very hard being 21 and being so restricted in everything you eat and drink. As she said to me, “This country and everything social revolves around food.” That is something she will have to come to terms with. She is still in the process of seeing MANY doctors as she has significant throat swelling that they are not convinced is totally from allergies. I have not convinced them it is sulfites, yet, because that is just not on their radar. She is seeing a really wonderful allergist who is open-minded and determined to get a diagnosis.
        As far as her meal the other night, I am convinced something was on the cranberries. They were not organic (Ocean Spray in the bag), and I only added cane sugar and water to them. The chicken I only seasoned with fresh ground sea salt and fresh ground pepper and a little organic butter. The yogurt on her potato was plain greek yogurt with nothing added. She has had sour cream with no reaction so far. What is in greek yogurt that can cause a problem (other than corn starch and sweeteners which I avoid)?
        I am having her take a vitamin B-12 every day. We hesitate to add too much right now since she is so reactive after her hospital stay in January when she had her terrible reaction. I now believe (as do the doctors there) that they were pushing some meds trying to make her better that were actually making things worse – most probably the many multiple doses (over several days) of epi they gave her 🙁
        Is there any mayonnaise that you have found that you can eat? I’m not sure what to think about soy. We have been avoided all forms since they thought she tested positive to it as a food allergy. We now know that was a false positive, but I’m not sure about the sulfite involvement with soy. Life would be better for her if I could cook her a turkey (if I can find one that doesn’t have anything added this time of year here), make her homemade bread (which is all she eats now) and she could make a sandwich!

        I know all these posts are long for this forum, but I also know I have learned so much from reading other people’s posts and what they have learned. I’m not sure how to PM (I’m assuming private message) you, but my email address is mholcombva@gmail.com if you have that capability.

        Thanks for everything! I’m not sure where we would be if I did not have the information I have learned from searching online :/

    • Margery Strom says:

      RE cranberries

      Cranberries and other fruits/vegetables ( and strangely also walnuts) that have a blue-red colour contain anthocyanins. I believe this explains why some folks can tolerate apples, and others not. Maybe the ones who are OK are eating Granny Smith ones!

      Blue/red colour in Chewing gums initally gave me a sore throat. Also peeling lips fron certain blue-red lipsticks.

      This mild inconvenience has now evolved to give me symptoms of bladder incontinence.. small leakage and, worst fairly large amounts completely unpredictably. I have also had symptoms of a bladder infection that were ruled out by my MD.

      Research led me to this web site and I find that my problem seems to be sulphites, but also anthocyanins.

      Best wishes

  7. levelheaded says:

    Thanks for rebuilding your website, Tracy. It’s the best one around for us sulfite-sufferers!
    Have you (like me) ever tried to join up with a local “food allergy support group” only to be told that what you have isn’t *really* an allergy and probably isn’t life-threatening? It’s kind of disheartening and not exactly what I would have expected from a support group. I wouldn’t mind the brush-off so much if perhaps they could offer me an alternative group to consider…but no.

    • Tracy says:

      Hi, Levelheaded!

      I am glad I have awesome friends who helped me through the rebuilding!

      I have not had such an experience with a support group – how awful coming from people who *should* understand! I have really only joined online groups for people specifically with sulfite issues and they have been very supportive, so I think I am lucky! I like the yahoo group and there are a couple really great groups on facebook. Lots of good information sharing and love! Just do a search for sulfites in either of those places and you will find them. Let me know if you don’t and I will send you a link.


      • levelheaded says:

        Oh yes, online groups and data are fine as far as they go (I’ve been involved in the yahoo group–the one that’s been on a “dog treats” tangent recently 🙂 ) But I was hoping for some face-to-face friends, too, since I’ve recently moved to this area from out-of-state. Hoped to get a rec for a local doc, for instance, who doesn’t believe I need my head examined for even thinking I’m sensitive to sulfites 😉

        • Tracy says:

          Well – if you are in Chicago, I have some great recommendations… 😉 I do know what you mean – how awesome would it be to set up a dinner out with a whole group of sulfite sensitive folks and work with the restaurant in advance so everyone could just EAT and DRINK and be MERRY without worrying about dying?

          Now that’d be something…….

          • jennifer says:

            I live in chicagoland and am just starting to finally figure out how serious my sensitivity is. Would love to hear from you!

        • Dixie Lee says:

          Please know that there are SO MANY out there who have lived through this. When I was first diagnosed with MCS (multiple chemical sensitivity) it was so exciting to find others who had been isolated in much the same way you are feeling, and what Doctors don’t admit, it has been the experiences discussed among these groups that has done so much more for research than you can imagine. Let’s face it, there are no pharma’s that will fund studies which all, very early on, point to avoiding the UNnatural! The synergy gained amongst sufferers is tremendous. I do not arrive at this conclusion from reading stats. I have lived it, seen it, and am so happy each time I stumble across pages like this. I am not here to give you advice; not that I wouldn’t, but there is much to be learned here, experiences to be shared.

  8. beastie says:

    Today my friend of 40 yrs rang to thank me for the goodies i had sent
    down wifh my husband, perhaps u guessed things i had baked that
    i baked and i reacted to, well what are friends for ?!
    i realised it was the self raising flour (uk) so will start again to make my own baking powder, from cream of tarter and baking soda. Then she said, better this thing had happened to me, (true friends can say these things) and not her, she is a poor cook and I love cooking, so I will sort it out.I will with knowledge of others, I will let u know how my trail and errors go

    • Tracy says:

      Hi beastie – that is nice that someone could enjoy it. Proceed with caution – cream of tartar has sulfites as well – I typically use baking soda with buttermilk in my baked goods – you have to reduce some other liquid by how much buttermilk you use, but it works like a charm, it is a similar chemical reaction to the baking powder. It is actually the cream of tartar in the baking powder that has the sulfites.


  9. beastie says:

    oh dear i enjoy biscuits, many times no liquid in those, i will take care
    as using plain or strong flour will not rise without something

  10. beastie says:

    if 1 teaspoon B Powder called for, how mych B soda would you
    use? or using 8oz plain flour instead of all purpose flour wgat quanties would
    u use.

  11. beastie says:

    i have looked on web, found a few recipes which I
    may be able to use, will look further, so many not all

  12. Shawna says:

    Thank you so much for this information. Although this is very discouraging to me because I already have a gluten allergy. So, I really not sure what I am going to eat now without it making me feel bad.

    • Tracy says:

      Welcome, Shawna – it can be very depressing at first trying to figure out what you can and cannot eat, particularly since we all react a bit differently. I have chosen not to eat gluten as well – not because I am intolerant, but because I just don’t feel great when I eat it. Check out the recipe for my socca bread – it is a great substitute for something like naan. Let me know if you have any questions!


      • Shawna says:

        Thanks Tracy. I will try it. Practically all the items you listed that contain sulfites have indeed bothered me. I would love to see a list of products you have found to be safe. I would also like to know where your information on what has sulfites came from. I have been searching all over the net for a breakdown of foods that contain sulfites and so far your list has been exactly what I was looking for. All the other lists I have seen have been very generalized, which helped but I felt like there were more things with sulfites in them than what I was finding. So, thank you again for all this information. It is really helpful.

  13. Lainey says:

    Thanks for your site. I’m new to this and have some questions…
    I think I have some kind of problem with sulfites. Years ago I had a reaction to a sulfa drug, so I don’t take them. Then except for some nasal swelling when I drank champagne which Sudafed would prevent, I didn’t have any problems until I ate a soft-shell crab for the first and only time which produced a red rash and swelling. So no more soft-shell crabs, but other crabmeat and seafood has been fine.
    I haven’t had any problems with other shellfish or other foods, until the other night. In a 24 hour time frame, while visiting a friend, I consumed the following foods: smoked fish spread, salmon dip, brie, cheddar & horseradish cheese; a lump crabmeat & scallop sandwich; then later a seafood dinner consisting of shrimp, scallops, mussels, clams & calamari, and champagne. Within an hour or so of that meal while driving home, I felt warm & like I couldn’t get enough air. It felt like my nasal passages & upper airway were clogged and my face was flushed. My symptoms were finally relieved by Benadryl. I think it was simply that I overdosed on so much seafood (& champagne) in a short period of time, but now I’m apprehensive about eating any shellfish in the future. What do you think?? Thanks.

    • Tracy says:

      Hi Lainey –
      Well, It certainly could be a sulfite issue – pretty much everything you had there is likely to have sulfites. You could have a very minor sensitivity and that amount of sulfites pushed you over the edge. It could also be an issue with shellfish, many people have that problem as well. I am not sure how old you are, but many people with this sensitivity get worse over time, so you may just be starting to notice the issue. If your reaction was relieved by Benadryl, you must have had something going on. If it is a sensitivity, the more you get of the trigger, the more likely you are to get a reaction, so eating a lot of sulfites would fit in with your symptoms, where a true allergy would not. With a true allergy, it doesn’t matter how much of the trigger you get, the reaction is of the same degree. The bad news there is you can’t be tested for a sensitivity. I would definitely avoid the shellfish for a while and later if you felt like testing it you might do so in a controlled environment.

      What a scary experience, I am so sorry!


  14. Tammie says:

    horseradish has sulfites, watch all deli fish they are often sprayed with sulfites to keep them white. Oyster are treated with sulfites on the boat.
    Buy your fish frozen, usually dried in sea salt.Humus has sulfites. apple vinegar, all processed white potatoes. I bought a book called sulfites and other demons it has helped me to be able to buy food in the store again. He author will send you rice vinegar and cheese it crackers. The Sulfites, are what we react too. To change the chemical to a non reactive state I have used learned to use powered calcium. This changes the sulfite to a sulfate which we do not react to. I use imodium to stop digestion right away and benadryl not very often anymore Also stay away from iron products, some pasta . BBQ sauce has molasses, it has sulfites, bottle water check the label, many pain medications and antibiotics with sulfa run away from Cipro , it almost killed me. Organic products work well , trader Joes and whole foods. In 2009 -2010 I truly I thought I was going to die . Use the calcium powder you can buy it at whole foods. Take it immediately if you feel the symptoms in a small amount of water. It’s gross but it works. Best of luck.

    • Tracy says:

      Hi Tammie –
      I don’t love that book – there is LOTS of misinformation in there. He tells you to eat eggs and many, many other foods with sulfites. I am not certain what you mean about cheez its crackers, but those are poison! I have not ever heard of powdered calcium being effective in dealing with reactions. I will ask around and see if anyone else I know does this. I would not take immodium because I would react to it.

  15. Humatarian says:

    Hi, thanks for the site. I was just wondering if you or anyone else knows if they have a condition called Erythromelalgia? I only ask because i see you mentioned you had burning red hands once, along with you also having Raynaud’s syndrome. I also have Raynaud’s, which i think is linked to Erythromelalgia, which actually seems to bother me more and with which i think i have associated a worsening of symptoms with sulfite consumption.

    • Tracy says:

      Hi Humatarian – I have not heard of it, but from the quick search I did it seems to be linked to allergies and genetic mutation. I would be interested to see which gene it ties to. I will do a little research and ask some other folks with sulfite issues if they have this.


  16. Sarah P. says:

    Thank you for this site. I was just diagnosed with a sulphite allergy along with Asthma and GERD after a 6 day stay in the hospital. So needless to say, I am doing a lot of research on all of it. I really appreciate your blog, it is very helpful.
    I love vinegar and was wondering what is the best type to use?? Somebody told me rice vinegar, but I have never tried that before and don’t want to buy a bunch of stuff I won’t like. your thoughts??

    • Tracy says:

      Hi Sarah – I am so sorry you went through all that – but glad you got a diagnosis! I found that once I eliminated the sulfites, both my asthma and GERD went away completely and I haven’t taken medicine for either in years. Rice vinegar is a good choice as long as it doesn’t have anything else in it. I would buy a small bottle and see how you feel about the taste – it is certainly different from regular vinegar. Lots of folks use apple cider vinegar – I don’t tolerate it well personally, but I have a problem with the rose family that is not exactly a sulfite issue, so you might be fine with that.


  17. Joëlle R says:

    Hi Sarah,
    We have been using organic rice vinegar for my husband for a year now and he’s fine with it.

  18. Sally says:

    Hi all, I have had a sulphite allergy since birth and after 25(ish) years I think I’ve got a grip on most of it. But lately I’ve been feeling rubbish with the dreaded itchy arms/legs, nausea/heart burn. The only thing I have changed is that I am working from home now and am drinking A Lot more tea (pg tips/Yorkshire). I have read that tea/tea bags contain sulphites- is this true??there is nothing on labels. I absolutely love tea and if this is the case is there any brand out there that is sulphite free?

    Would love to hear off you, I didn’t realise there were others out there 🙂

    • Tracy says:

      Typically tea bags are bleached with sulfites, so that might be the culprit. In addition, black tea is fermented, which produces naturally occurring sulfites, so it might be that as well. Lots of us out there, welcome to the club!

    • Kassi says:

      I, too, dearly miss my black tea. Making the switch. It has seemed to help…some.

  19. Joëlle R says:

    Hi Sally

    Tracy is right. I suggest you switch to green loose tea. Not the same taste, I know, but better for your health all around.

    Take care!


  20. sally says:

    Thank you both for this. I had a look around the supermarket yesterday and am giving ‘Clipper Organic’ unbleached tea bags and their green tea a try. I have to admit I feel a bit better today so hopefully we found the culprit that was tipping me over my tolerance level. Thanks again, sally

  21. kassi says:

    I’m still working on the tea question. Yes, I feel (somewhat) better having eliminated my daily cuppa (or 2…or 3…) of black tea (I’ll tell you what, though, I DO miss it!!!) I had switched to jasmine (oolong with jasmine flowers), maybe still too ‘processed’ (or fermented, or whatever it is that causes the problem), so I switched to a SUPPOSEDLY green tea (Bigelow), but I would swear it’s actually oolong. So, beware what you’re drinking may not be exactly as advertised! The last 2 mornings I decided Screw It! and just went with herbal. And that seemed to have gone better. I do have green tea on hand as well, thanks to my Japanese brother in law, so I will give it a try once I finish my herbal experiment, and let you know! Hang tough, tea drinkers!!!

  22. I’m suffering from pain due to inflammation/of which I’m sure if I clean up my diet /I know I can manage/I’m in the process of researching this as well as the alkaline diet-do you have any information on the pros and cons of alkaline diet? would be grateful for any information you can provide/thank you and good day to you

  23. Faith says:

    Hi Tracy,

    Thank you so much for your website! I’ve used it many times. I recently found out that I’m allergic to sulfites and it’s insane! I’ve been having allergic reactions 2-3 times a day. Sulfites are in everything! I have really appreciated your blog and website because it shows that I’m not alone and there are other people out there with the same allergy as me.

    Thanks again,

    • Tracy says:

      Welcome, Faith – You are definitely not alone, but it sure can feel like it when you are reacting all the time and everyone else can just eat whatever they want. Let me know if you have any questions!


  24. erika says:

    Thanks for your site. I realized several years ago that I was sensitive to sulfites after puzzling symptoms. I knew that they were caused by something I was eating but what ever it was seemed to be in almost everything! I distinctly remember one incident when I ordered McDonald’s French fries & a shake at a drive through and was so dizzy that I had to pull over. Now, I’m much more careful about what I consume & I hate when I have to learn the hard way that something I like is on the no-no list because sulfites are identified on the label.

  25. Chris says:

    I have sulfa allergies too for many years now I thought it was just in food but I realize it is also in products and also goes by other names I’m 46 and my hair is falling out the Dr has done all the thyroid tests and sometimes it shows up and other time it dosent show a problem I think it’s on the blink but I also think my allergy has a lot to do with it how ever I found out the hard what’d way that some laundry detergent has it and deodorant lotions and anti fungal creams my wort symptoms come from antibiotics I stop breathing not a good thing I would love to know if someone has a list of all the products that contain sulfate if not maybe we all could make one as we discover them I just learned the other day that the shampoo I use has it time to go shopping for new shampoo maybe this will help with my hair loss

    • Tracy says:

      Hi Chris – I have not been paying much attention to sulfates, as I do not react to them. That would be a big list! I try to be careful with specific brands because things can change and so vigilance is important – I always read labels wven with a “safe” food, just in case something has changed.

  26. Trine says:

    Hi there 🙂

    Thanks for making such a nice blog.

    I am intolerant / very sensitive for sure, but i’m not exactly sure what the problematic food is. I’ve tried different elemination diets so far (gluten, lactose, latex, histamin, salicylate) and now I think the time has come to sulfits / thiol. Do you have a elemination diet you would like to share?
    Or should I just eat food from your list of foods with low sulfit content?

    Btw, how were you diagnosed? We don’t have a lot of options here in Denmark and no dietitians with focus on intolerance..


  27. Joëlle says:

    Hello Trine

    Sulfites are a very tricky subject indeed, and don’t count too much on the medical world to help you out. If you want to find out if you are truly intolerant through an elimination diet, you can try following Tracy’s list, which means making drastic changes in your pantry. On the site I started three months ago there is a tab “dans mon placard” (in my pantry). It’s in French but I’m sure you’ll understand most of it. Everybody is different though, and for instance my husband has no problem with Tamari sauce which is made from soy beans. And we eat pork, although I avoid regular ham because of the added dextrose.

    Good luck, but you’ve found Tracy, so if you have problems with sulfites you are on the right track !

    Joëlle (from France. Can you imagine, the very country for wine!!!)

  28. elliedeee says:

    Hi all, I’m still on a quest to find a sulfite free, non diary, no or low fat milk product. It hasn’t been easy, but I recently heard about Flax seed milk. I can make that myself.. but what I need to know is Do flaxseeds contain sulfites?
    Has anyone tried it before?

    I already ordered Bob’s Red Mill organic flax seeds to make it. Patience is not one of my virtues…. lol

    thanks all!

  29. Joëlle says:

    Hello Elliedeee

    We use flaxseed all the time in our household. Never any problems. My husband also drank rice milk and almond milk (or a combination of both) while staying in the U.S. He tells me the brand was Trader Joe’s Rice milk and Pacific Organic Almond non-dairy beverage. Both are unsweetened.

  30. Deanna says:

    Thank you for making this website! I had to almost kill myself to get the other piece of the puzzle why certain foods seemed to keep me from losing weight and other symptoms. I almost killed myself with fruit juice bars. I got so I couldn’t walk very well and I had massive headaches that never left. My right shoulder hurt so much and my joints in my legs were really hurting. I had rashes on my arms and legs which I was constantly trying to get over. A couple of days ago I told my husband let me look at the juice bar package I wonder if there is aspartame in them. I saw sulfites and maltodextrine. I thought sulfites were just in wine dumb me. Once I started researching I found your website and others and that was it my problem for a very long time! I have been off of the juice bars my second day and being careful of other stuff and I am starting to walk just a little better and the headache has decreased. I hope you are still doing well and thank you for sharing your story!

  31. jANE says:

    Hi Traci,

    Your site is wonderful. We are pretty sure our daughter has a sulfite sens.

    She is having an upper endo next week and we are trying beforehand to figure out what to be aware of on meds etc that they might use for procedure.

    Do you have any info of things to possibly be aware of. It is so hard as she can;t have gluten, soy dairy as well.

    Thanks so much, Janie

  32. Hi all I know how to make gravy from scratch but what do you colour it with if. We can’t use gravy salt I like a darker gravy …

    • Joëlle says:

      Hi Lesley,
      If you bake a chicken or make a roast beef, save the juices and freeze them in a small container. You can then scoop out some to give colour, and taste, to your gravy. And if you tolerate soy, use tamari sauce.
      P-S: will look into translating the cake recipe some time this week or next. (Busy work schedule)

  33. Amanda says:

    Hi Tracy!
    I have been having health issues for years, including oral allergy syndrome. Now, I think I’ll be adding sulfites to the list of things I can no longer eat; but I have no idea where to start. There is so much fear mongering out there that I’m left more confused than ever.
    Does anyone have any advice about naturally occurring sulfites in Onions and garlic for example? I do not know how to live without them!
    I can cut out the processed garbage, but I have no clue what to do about lettuce, cabbage, tomatoes and vinegar. These are staples in a seriously limited diet.
    I need guidance!
    -Dazed, confused, and STARVING.

    • Tracy says:

      Hi Amanda –

      I am sorry you are so limited in your diet! As far as naturally occurring sulfites – some people can tolerate them and some can’t. I would go on an elimination diet to see what you are dealing with. Lettuce does not have sulfites, nor do tomatoes. The problem with tomatoes is that many people who have sulfite issues also have issues with nightshade plants and/or salicylates. As far as vinegar, most sulfite sensitive people can tolerate at least one of the following vinegars: rice, apple cider or coconut. As far as cabbage, garlic and onions – those are pretty big offenders, I would be surprised if you did not react to them. None of the recipes I have included in this website have any garlic, onions or cabbage in them. I was addicted to garlic and I learned to live with it (it is very common to crave something that you have a sensitivity to, so that might be going on for you as well – the craving passes in time).

      Hope this helps!


      • Amanda says:

        Thank you so much for taking the time to reply to me. I have already started saving many of your recipes! I’m sure I will have a lot more questions as time goes on. It is really comforting to finally find someone who understands AND is knowledgeable!
        Thank you again Tracy 🙂

  34. Faith says:

    Hi Tracy,

    I love your website. 🙂 I have a sulfite allergy and can’t even eat Sodium Benzoate or Potassium Benzoate. Have you found that people with sulfite allergies are also allergic to Sodium and Potassium Benzoate?


    • Hally DeCarion says:

      Thank you Tracy for this website and putting all the information you have in one place. I was tested via 23@Me and that’s where I learned about the sulfites. It has made a large difference now that I realize that grapes and almonds, my main ‘go to snacks’ were not the best choices. I have also learned on the net that there are certain fillers, binders or gums, used in some of the packaged Almond milks that people may react to. As a result, I’m taking a break from those for a while I’d also like to hear more from the woman who was going to make her own flax seed milk from flour, if she has done that. take good care. Thanks again

  35. Stephanie says:

    Thank you for your website. This is the most thorough information I have found thus far on this subject. I have not been diagnosed yet, but I am almost 100% positive that this is my issue. Would you mind communicating with me via email?

  36. Iris Beaudette says:

    Hi Tracy,

    I have just found your website & am most grateful. At 74 yrs old my sensitivity to sulfites has been acting out as never before. I am reacting to foods that had not caused problems before. I am so frustrated. Do the symptoms progress with age ? So glad to have found you.


    • Tracy says:

      Hi Iris, welcome!

      I do not think the reactions progress with age, but rather with time. Let me explain. I think that the vast majority of people that react tosulfites have a sensitivity and not an allergy. With an allergy, any amount of the trigger food will cause a reaction. With a sensitivity, there is a certain threshold you need to pass before you have a reaction, and then the more you get, the worse your symptoms become. Most people I know have had to go on a pretty strict detox to calm their systems down and then things get better again. You might try an elimination diet to see where your triggers are and avoid them for a while to see if it helps. The other possibility is that when you eat one food that you have a reaction to and at the same time eat another food that you would not normally have a reaction to, sometimes your brain has a misfire and thinks you are sensitive to both and after that you react to the new food as well. It is awful when you suddenly feel like you are reacting to everything! If this is the case for you, I would recommend Advanced Allergy Therapy. It can counteract those misfires and give you back some various foods.


  37. Dixie Lee says:

    I am SO on your page!!! I DO fall down though, and I admit I have stuck my head in the sand over things like sulfa drugs. I SUSPECTED and then dismissed the concern, as the alternative was they threatened to give me Cipro. I caught the name and remembered something about how dangerous it was and the er Doctor was a bit indignant when I looked scared. She said, oh, well, then, I suppose I could give you a sulfa for your bladder infection. It is the 3rd one I have had this year, after many long years of being fine. I just realized I have been getting into the chocolate a bit much, and I am wondering about the relationship between all this and my CONSTANTLY running nose. Sometimes, oftentimes, I just get too tired to pursue the research. Then when you get a bit better, you forget all the stuff you KNOW you should avoid! Thanks so much for your effort here. Bless you

  38. Dixie Lee says:

    Tracy, as I was reading your note to Iris and it reminded me of this scenario: Most people don’t know this difference between our sensitivities and actual allergies, so this is an analogy I used to use a lot: Allergy is when your body reacts to a harmless substance, something that is totally safe for you, but your body has an inappropriate reaction, and you could actually die from your own body’s misunderstanding. You can go ahead and eat that peanut, and your body will digest it, taking some goodness out, and it will pass through you having left some nutrition, BUT your body is getting its wires crossed; giving the immune system a wrong message, and thinks this is a huge invader which needs to removed, so you get this huge, inappropriate reaction. A senstiIvity, on the other hand, is to something that is NOT safe. Most bodies are designed to detoxify and get past these poisons, but some are less able to, often because they have already been taxed by other things in their environment, especially over time. So, you and I can both stick our heads next to a car exhaust and I will pass out first, but although you may walk away, and your body detoxes, and you don’t feel sick, that does not mean that the exhaust did not hurt you and leave some carcinogens for your immune system to deal with. Then we come down to those poor people who are being pelted from all sides: It could start off with a sensitivity to perfume, which is USUALLY toxic, and your body does the whole panic thing, but this can progress to a place where all the bells go off whenever you smell ANYthing that just MIGHT be perfume, even before your senses recognize exactly what it is, and then you end up with this full blown allergy attack, and whether or not it was actually kick-started by a toxin doesn’t matter at this point. Unfortunately, these people can go so far down the line that they are universal reactors and many eventually die, being forced down to only 2 or three kinds of food they can still take.

  39. Pauli Taylorboyd says:

    I have written before: those of us who are ‘allergic to sulfites’ actually cannot metabolize sulfites. BECAUSE we are deficient in molybdenum. Go to Mayo Clinic site…all of the sicknesses/symptoms are there. I have suffered 17 years before the UNIVERSITY OF WISCONSIN MADISON MEDICAL SCHOOL TEAM figured me out.
    Get…demand a simple blood test for molybdenum…the solution is $5 for 3 mos. Molybdenum KAL brand is sold at vitacost.com and the Vitamin Store ($7 but no shipping).. GET your score first to be sure you are deficient and then retest every other month to see if your score goes up. Mine did and while I cannot tolerate sulfites, my reaction is much watered down. Get on this! Growing issue…many doctors will say ‘what is molybdenum’ It is an essential metal (like iron) in the body and some of us aint’ got enough.

    • Tracy says:

      Hi Paul – yes, molybdenum is key in processing sulfites, but in addition to a blood test (and you want to get the RBC test) I think that a hair mineral analysis is key to discovering what your body is doing with certain minerals and heavy metals. That will let you know whether or not your body is actually using the moly that you put in it!

  40. Keith Carver says:

    Am I crazy? My MD may think so. Recently I’ve had a few sulfite allergy “episodes” that have been quite severe symptomatically and in longevity (days). Like many posts on this and on other sites I’ve read, I also suffer the accelerated heart rates, nausea, headaches, anxiety, hopelessness, feeling of impending doom, nasal issues, bloating, difficulty breathing, tightness in the chest. It’s awful sometimes. Had to leave the Jason Isbell concert last week early because of this. Grrr!

    I’m 57 years old, had a clean stress test 10 weeks ago. I’ve had all the blood tests too I think, but, I’m missing something and looking for help, or empathy!
    Some of these recent episodes last for days, and the lethargy and lack of motivation is draining me. My MD did consider I’m suffering from depression. It’s not. It’s sulfites.

    Does anyone else suffer for days at times? When I first discovered this condition, my “attacks” would go away in a few hours, but the next day I was drained. Now it takes days to recover. Is anyone aware of anything to speed the recovery? Other than avoidance, anyone know of other preventative ideas?

    In the past, I rolled the dice when eating out. I’ve since developed a much more serious approach to what I eat and drink. But I’m thinking the years and months of sulfite induction have built up in my system and now when I absorb a large quantity, I literally (not literally) explode. Does anyone else feel this way? Is there a method to detoxify?

    I ask because back in December, I went on a medically supervised liquid protein (Medi-cal) diet to drop some quick weight, which I did, 25 lbs in fact. And while that felt great and I looked better, what got my attention is that the 3-4 weeks without any sulfites seemed to clean my system. I felt better in December than I have in years. After I returned to “real food”, I didn’t feel as well, and now I’m feeling like shit again.
    Appreciate any and all feedback!



  41. Linda Crockett says:

    How do they diagnose?

  42. Marcos López García says:

    Good morning from Spain , Tracy .
    I would like to thank you for “saving my life” …. allergists would tell me that my problem was because my cats, because they had given a positive skin test, and insisted that beer did not have sulfites, for example .. .I still suffering asthma attacks and panicky thought getting rid of my cats, because I had stopped eating foods that sulfites declared on their labels …
    Until I came to your blog, and I began to stop eating all hidden and natural sulfites …
    The improvement was spectacular, and thank God I found your blog ¡¡¡¡¡

    Thank you very much indeed , Tracy ¡¡¡


    • Tracy says:


      I am so happy to hear that you are feeling better and that I could help! You just made my day!

      Thanks for reaching out!


    • Joëlle says:

      Hi (Olá) Marcos,
      Aren’t we lucky to have Tracy! I live in France and like you my husband had been diagnosed as having all kinds of allergies (through skin prick tests), until we realized, 20 years on, that his problem was food, sulfites in particular, and not cats, pollen or dust! However, doctors have a hard time understanding that sulfites is more than just wine, and so it is up to us to care for our own health through a lot of label reading and careful cooking. It can be difficult, but hang in there! I come here regularly (have done so for the past three years now) and even if we don’t have quite the same products in Europe I find that this site is a mine of information, and support!

  43. frank barany says:


    I’ve just come across your site and (after being very ill for a long time without a diagnosis) many of the symptoms now point to sulfite allergy or sensitivity. I could ask many questions and may well do soon but I just have one for the moment.

    One of my earliest and, to me, serious and unpleasant symptoms was that I would very often feel very ill in bed whenever I lay on my left hand side. No problem on my back or my right hand side, I see this is on your list of symptoms but do you know how sulfite sensitivity might actually cause this problem? I’ve told my doctors for years that if you find out what’s causing this symptom I’m sure you’ll be looking at the reason (in part anyway) I feel so ill.

    Thanks for any help.


    • Tracy says:

      Hi Frank,

      I find that it causes me a lot of discomfort when I lay on my left side. I not only feel my heart pounding through my ribcage where I am laying on it, it also seems like my anxiety increases dramatically. I remember something about how this is related to the sulfites, but darn it if I just can’t remember right now. Let me dig around a bit and see what I can figure out.


  44. da AL says:

    so glad for the great service you provide here – thank you!

  45. Annie says:

    Thank you for this site. I have had unexplained feelings of allergy and feeling exhausted and unwell for most of my adult life. All symptoms non descript enough that being a working mum of 4 and a busy teacher can explain them. Recently, I have been diagnosed with minor osteo arthritus, but certainly not bad enough to explain the swelling and aching in my joints. As is often the case with dealing with medical issues (I also have Ménière’s disease which I am starting to think may be related!!), I have been doing my own research and have stumbled across the link between joint swelling and sulfites. My lifestyle has not been as healthy lately as it should be (read: too much wine and processed foods!), because I have moved overseas and have been enjoying the new food and social opportunities, and I am definitely seeing a connection. So…it looks like a drastic lifestyle change for me. If I feel better, great! The only downside is I am on the eve of a month of holiday! But being able to walk and get out of bed pain free is the most important thing!

  46. Lexia says:

    I am so grateful to have found this website!!!! I have been struggling for the last two years to find credible and accurate information online. Anyone can start a blog and very often the information is incorrect. Reading everyone’s comments has been unbelievably helpful for me and I am so thankful!!! Please keep this great information coming!

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