Method for biological removal of sulfites from alcoholic beverages and food

Background Sulfite hypersensitivity is an important problem for millions of people. Furthermore, a number of disorders in humans have been proven to be associated with allergic responses to sulfite. Sulfite forms naturally in the body during the oxidative degradation of sulfur-containing amino acids, such as cysteine and methionine. Accumulation of sulfite is toxic, so it must be further oxidized to sulfate to prevent adverse effects. Sulfite accumulations can also arise from environmental pollution or from the consumption of processed foods, such as dried fruits. Sulfite, particularly in wines, represents an important trigger of asthma and severe bronchospasms. A simple method for the removal of sulfites from beverages is expected to have significant ramifications from a public health standpoint.

Invention Description This invention proposes a biological method for the removal of sulfites from alcoholic beverages and foods. Removal of sulfites proceeds by way of their oxidation to sulfate. Chloroplasts isolated from wheatgrass were used to oxidize sulfite to sulfate. Optimal sulfite oxidation activity was observed at pH 8.5. The efficiency of sulfite oxidation increased with chloroplast concentration. Moreover, the efficiency of sulfite oxidation was also promoted by illumination, indicating the participation of the light-induced photosynthetic electron transport chain in sulfite oxidation and the enzyme sulfite oxidase. This technology demonstrates the feasibility of using chloroplasts for sulfite oxidation in alcoholic beverages.


Simple Safe Quality of wines unaffected Resists the accumulation of sulfites


Sulfite oxidized to sulfate Chloroplasts utilized

Market Potential/Applications This technology could be applied throughout the food industry.

UT Researcher George Georgiou, Ph.D., Chemical Engineering, The University of Texas at Austin Sung-Chyr Lin, Ph.D., Chemical Engineering, The University of Texas at Austin

Type of Offer: Licensing

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