The detection of sulfite has long held the interest of the analytical community because of the large number or roles that the anion can play within environmental and physiological systems. However, the need to monitor the anion in food and drinks has risen to considerable prominence in recent years, because concerns over its ability to aggravate asthmatic conditions have increased. More restrictive legislative instruments are now being introduced to inform consumers of sulfite content, so small producers must now declare the concentration of the preservative in food produce. This article provides a brief overview of the chemistry that underpins the preservative role and action of sulfite and aims to provide a critical assessment of the latest developments in electrochemical monitoring technologies. The main remit is not to describe the intricacies of laboratory-based techniques but rather to focus on the potential transferability of the underlying technologies to formats that could be of use for commercial food producers for decentralised testing. (c) 2006 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.