Preservative Use

Learn about managing the use of preservatives and sulphur dioxide in the meat industry.


  • Preservative use is regulated by the Australia New Zealand Food Standards Code.
  • Following good manufacturing practices ensures safe handling, storage and labelling of preservatives.
  • Sulphur dioxide can only be used to preserve sausage meat. There are rules about how it can be used.
  • Sulphur dioxide can not be used to preserve any other type of meat or meat product.

Preservative management

Preservatives are added to food to stop bacteria, yeast and mould from growing. Preservatives increase the shelf-life of a food product. There are different types of preservatives and their use in meat and seafood is set out in the Australia New Zealand Food Standards Code.

To manage preservatives in your business, follow good manufacturing practices (GMP):

  1. Identify the ingredients you use.
  2. Train staff on how to handle preservatives correctly.
  3. Manage allergens if they’re present.
  4. Store preservatives securely with products containing the same one.
  5. Keep preservatives separate from other ingredients.
  6. Use clear labels for preservatives.
  7. Be able to trace the preservative throughout the process and finished product during a mock recall.

These steps help ensure proper preservative management and reduce associated risks.

Using sulphur dioxide (SO2) as a preservative

Sulphur dioxide (SO2) is also known as sulphites. It is used in the meat industry to preserve raw sausages and sausage meat.

It can trigger allergy and asthma and its use in the preservation of meat and meat products is regulated.

The Australia New Zealand Food Standards Code allows sausages and sausage meat to contain a maximum of 500 mg/kg SO2.

No other types of meat and meat products can contain any SO2.

When you are using SO2 as a preservative for sausage meat:

  1. Follow the manufacturer’s recommendations for sausage premix and sulphur dioxide use.
  2. Make sure packaged sausages and sausage meat have the preservative listed on the label.
  3. Have information about unpackaged sausages and sausage meat available for customers upon request.

PrimeSafe monitors SO2 use

We randomly test meat and meat products for SO2. Learn more about our monitoring and surveillance activities at Compliance programs.