Fact sheetDiet specifications

Published on 1 Nov 2011 ; Partial revision Aug 2020

Allergy diet - preservative low

This document is part of the ACI Diet Specifications for Adult Inpatients. It is not to be used for patient education.


To provide a diet low in added preservatives.


Avoids the following additives:

  • sorbic acid (200–203),
  • benzoic acid (210–213, 216, 218)
  • sulphites (220–225, 228),
  • propionate (280–283)
  • nitrite / nitrate (249–252)
  • antioxidants (310–321)


Intolerance to artificial preservatives, established by a medically supervised placebo-controlled challenge.

Nutritional adequacy

Nutritionally adequate.


It is not possible to provide a full list of all permitted commercial products; the following are general guidelines only. Ingredient lists of processed foods must be carefully and regularly scrutinised. Potatoes purchased peeled (or in commercial products such as dried mixes), and dried fruits typically have added preservatives used to prevent discolouration.


Suitable for use in paediatrics when combined with an age-appropriate diet.

Specific menu planning guidelines

Allowed Not allowed
Hot main dishesAll plain cooked meat, poultry, fish, eggs and legumes

Casserole dishes made with commercial stocks or wine

Processed meats (e.g. ham, silverside, bacon, sausages)

Meat pies

Dishes containing cheese, potato, breadcrumbs or dried fruit (e.g. macaroni cheese, quiche, crumbed fish)

Sauces, graviesAll othersGravies made with commercial gravy mix, unless preservative free – check label
Starchy vegetables / pasta / riceAll plain fresh potato, pasta and riceAny potato purchased pre-peeled (e.g. frozen french fries)
VegetablesAll othersVegetables in white sauce or with cheese (e.g. cauliflower au gratin)
SoupsMost soups – check labelTomato, vegetable, chicken noodle – check label
Salads, dressings

Most salad ingredients

Plain salad dressing (oil and vinegar) and mayonnaise – check labels (many vinegars have preservatives)

Processed meats, eg ham, silverside, chicken roll

Commercial salad dressings

Chutneys and relish

Breads, cereals

Breads labelled preservative-free. Confirm vinegar as an ingredient is sulphite free.

Bread crumbs

Rice cakes

Most plain breakfast cereals without added fruit or nuts (e.g. rolled oats, Weet-Bix™, Corn Flakes®, Rice Bubbles®)

Most commercial breads have added preservatives

Cereals with added fruit – check label


Butter, honey, Vegemite™, marmalade, peanut butter

Most jams – check label

Most margarines

Jams with added colours

Hot breakfast choicesAll othersSausages, bacon, ham
FruitAll fresh fruit and most canned fruitsDried fruit, prunes and commercial fruit salads – check label
YoghurtPlain yoghurtFlavoured and fruit yoghurt
DessertsMilk-based desserts (e.g. custards, creamy rice), plain puddings, ice-cream, cheesecake – check labelJelly, toppings, mousses, fruit cake
Milk and cheese

All plain milk

Most cheeses

Flavoured milk, milkshakes

Cottage cheese, ricotta cheese


Tea, coffee

Only tetra-pack juices or those without additives

Juice with non-permitted preservatives added

Cordial and soft drinks

BiscuitsOnly preservative-free biscuits (e.g. Milk Coffee™)Most commercial biscuits
Miscellaneous100% white vinegar created from molassess via microbial fermentationBonox®, Milo®, coconut

All other vinegar


  1. Australasian Society of Clinical Immunology and Allergy. Sulfite allergy.
  2. Royal Prince Alfred Hospital Allergy Unit. RPAH Elimination diet handbook. Sydney: RPAH; 2010.
  3. Food Standards Australia New Zealand. Choosing the right stuff: the official shoppers’ guide to food additives and labels, kilojoules and fat content. Sydney: Murdoch Books; 2007.
  4. Food Standards Australia New Zealand. Benzoates, sulphites and sorbates in the food supply: report of the 21st Australian total diet study. 2005.
  5. Swain AR, Soutter VL, Loblay RH. Friendly food: the complete guide to avoiding allergies, additives and problem chemicals. Sydney: Murdoch Books; 2004
  6. Swain, Anne; Soutter, Velencia; Loblay, Robert (2013). RPAH Elimination Diet Handbook with Food & Shopping Guide (PDF). ISBN 9780980616408.

Change log

August 2020

Section updatedChange
Specific menu planning guidelines - Breads/cereals In Allowed, added after Breads labelled preservative free. Confirm vinegar, as an ingredient, is sulphite free
In Allowed, added Bread crumbs
Specific menu planning guidelines - Miscellaneous In Allowed, added 100% white vinegar created from molassess via microbial fermentation
In Not Allowed, added All other vinegar
References Added Swain, Anne; Soutter, Valencia; Loblay Robert (2013). "RPAH Elimination Diet Handbook with Food & Shopping Guide" (PDF). ISBN 9780980616408
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