Sodium metabisulphite

Sodium metabisulfite is a white, granular solid. It is used in the pulp and paper industry, in the photographic industry and in the various other industries as a bleach or dechlorinator.  Food Grade sodium metabisulfite may be used as a food preservative. Sodium metabisulfite can also be used in the manufacture of other chemicals. Sodium metabisulfite known as other name such as:

  • Sodium metabisulphite (MBS)
  • Sodium bisulfite, anhydrous
  • Sodium pyrosulfite (pyrosulphite)
  • Disodium metabisulfite (metabisulphite)
  • Disodium pyrosulfite
  • Pyrosulfurous acid, disodium salt
  • E223 (In food Industries)


Exposure to sodium metabisulfite can cause irritation to the skin, eyes, and respiratory tract. If inhaled, sodium metabisulfite may  cause sensitization (develop an allergic reaction). Breathing sodium metabisulfite dusts may aggravate asthma or other pulmonary (breathing) diseases and may cause headaches, breathing difficulties, or heart irregularity. Ingestion may cause gastrointestinal irritation, nausea, vomiting and diarrhea. Figure (1) shows the chemical structure of sodium metabisulfite.

Sodium metabisulphite

Fig. (1) The chemical structure of sodium metabisulfite.


Solvay uses a reaction between sulfur dioxide and its hydrate (sodium carbonate) to produce sodium meta-sulfite and then dry the crystals produced according to the following reaction:

Fig. (2) Solvay reaction for producing Sodium metabisulphite


Sodium metabisulphite is used as an antioxidant agent in many pharmaceutical formulations. It is extensively used as a food preservative and disinfectant. It has been demonstrated that sulphite exposure can affect some organs. Curcumin, the main element of Curcuma longa, has been identified to have multiple protective properties.

The present study extends the earlier works to quantitative evaluation of the effects of sulphite and curcumin on the heart structure using stereological methods. In this study, 28 rats were randomly divided into four experimental groups. The rats in groups I to IV received distilled water (group I), sodium metabisulphite (25 mg/ kg/day) (group II), curcumin (100 mg/kg/day) (group III), and sodium metabisulphite+curcumin (group IV), respectively, for 8 weeks.

The left ventricle was subjected to stereological methods to estimate the quantitative parameters of the myocardium. A 20 % decrease was observed in the total volume of ventricular tissue in the sulphite-treated animals compared to the distilled water treatment (P < 0.02).

Also, the volume and length of the capillaries were reduced by 43 % on average in the sulphite-treated rats in comparison to the distilled water-treated animals (P < 0.02). However, no significant change was seen in the mean and total volume of the myocardium and the cavity and diameter of the capillaries after sulphite ingestion. Treatment with curcumin did not protect the animals against the structural changes of the ventricle. Sulphite, as a preservative food agent, reduced the length and volume of the ventricular capillaries and curcumin could not protect them.

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