Asthma Management Handbook
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Table. Association between food chemicals and asthma

Food chemical


Association with asthma

Benzoates (food additives 211, 213, 213, 216, 218)

Common preservative in soft drinks and foods

Probably minimal

Monosodium glutamate (food additive 621) and naturally occurring

Natural sources in fresh foods include tomatoes, various vegetables, mushrooms, fish, cheese, milk

Added as flavour enhancer

Probably minimal

Sulphites (food additives 221, 222, 223, 224, 225, 228)

Common preservative used in processed foods, dried fruits, medicines, beer, wine

May trigger acute asthma (uncommon)


Tartrazine (food additive 102)


Probably minimal

Salicylates (naturally occurring)

Stone fruits, berries, dried fruits, gherkins, concentrated tomato products, curry powder, paprika, thyme, garam masala, rosemary, tea

Probably minimal risk for people with aspirin-exacerbated respiratory disease


Ardern K, Ram FSF. Tartrazine exclusion for allergic asthma. Cochrane Database Syst Rev 2001; Issue 4. Available from:

Global Initiative for Asthma. Global strategy for asthma management and prevention (updated December 2012). GINA; 2012. Available from:

New South Wales Food Authority. Monosodium glutamate (MSG). Publication number NSWFA/CE010/0703. Sydney: NSW Food Authority, 2013. Available from:

Zhou Y, Yang M, Dong BR. Monosodium glutamate avoidance for chronic asthma in adults and children. Cochrane Database Syst Rev 2012; Issue 6. Available from:

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