Beef mince is not allowed to contain any sulphite preservative by law, but Food Intolerance Network members were clearly reacting to sulphites in mince. So members fanned out with home test kits and we found that 43% of mince contained illegal sulphites. Food regulators pooh-poohed the method used and the results, then did their own survey: they found that 53% of sulphites contained illegal sulphites! Prosecutions followed and the situation has improved in Australia.

Beef mince is not allowed to contain ANY sulphites, by law.

In 2004, Food Intolerance Network members used sulphite test strips to test butcheries around Australia for the illegal presence of sulphites in minced beef.

While FIN has the names of the butcheries, samples were not taken under legal conditions and the test-strip method, while calibrated and corrected for blank readings, is not the recognised legal test method. Therefore the names of butcheries are not given in the table below but are supplied to regulatory authorities.

Tests are continuing. The results on 65 butcheries were:

  • overall, 43% of mince in Australia, New Zealand and Sweden contained illegal sulphites at levels high enough to cause asthma.
  • The ACT was the worst state by far.
  • While small butcheries are the usual offenders, the highest results were actually from big butcheries in one supermarket chain and in non-imported meat in Sweden.
  • Don't buy your mince on Fridays or weekends after the health inspectors have knocked off.


Detailed results on sulphite test strips – the Food Intolerance Network has been distributing these at cost within Australia, Sweden and New Zealand to allow people to test minced meat for the illegal presence of sulphites.  Of 65 results returned in the last year, 28 (43%) contained sulphites at >200ppm.  The legal limit is zero! The illegal results state-by-state are ACT 86% (of 7 samples, including equal highest in the survey at 640ppm), NSW 22% (of 23 samples), NT 33% (of 9 samples), NZ  67% (of 6 samples), QLD 50% (of 6 samples), SA 100% (1 sample only), TAS 0% (1 sample only), VIC 0% (3 samples only), WA 50% (of 6 samples) and in Sweden100% in non-imported meat including equal highest at 640ppm (3 samples only). While people are most likely to report positive rather than negative results to the Network, the illegal presence of these known causes of asthma is a real concern.  The detailed results will be provided to FSANZ again.

See letters to and from FSANZ regarding the illegal use of sulphites in mince.


You can buy two sulphite test strips through our website

Or by mail, for just a two strips, post a stamped self-addressed envelope to Food Intolerance Network, PO Box 718, Woolgoolga NSW 2456 with four extra stamps. We'll post back the strips and instructions. This is done at cost, not for profit.


Results from February 2009; Date of last update: August 2012