Fedup Newsletters




Newsletter of the Food Intolerance Network of Australia

March 2000


FAILSAFE supports families using the low-chemical elimination diet recommended by the Royal Prince Alfred Hospital - free of additives, low in salicylates, amines and flavour enhancers - for health, behaviour and learning problems.

Failsafe is now available free by email. Just send your email address to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.




• antioxidants

• bad smells

• dog behaviour

Cooks Corner: scones, lentil spread



Antioxidants are good for us ... aren't they?


Antioxidants help to mop up free radicals that can cause cancer, but some antioxidants are friendlier than others. Antioxidants used to prevent rancidity in oil include Vitamin C esters (304) and vitamin E tocopherols (306), both FAILSAFE. Other antioxidants in oils may have side-effects.

When five year old Kirsty from Perth eats some potato chips, her normal sunny personality changes to whingeing, tantrums and a short fuse for about 24 hours. Kirsty is affected by antioxidants (310-321) in oils. These include:

BHA - Butylated hydoxyanisole 320

BHT - Butylated hydroxytoluene 321

tBHQ - tert-Butylhydroquinone 319

BHA and BHT have been associated with cancer in rats and possible genetic changes. Small amounts of tBHQ have caused nausea, vomiting, ringing in the ears, delirium and collapse and 5 grams is a fatal dose. All three have been associated with children's behaviour and other intolerances, as have the gallates:

Propyl gallate 310

Octyl gallate 311

Dodecyl gallate 312

Opaque containers for oil will substantially delay rancidity and Vitamin E can be used as an antioxidant but BHA remains the most widely used antioxidant in oil. Additive Code Breaker advises "as added vitamin E or better storage and packing allow manufacturers to do without BHA, there would seem to be good reason for limiting its use" and "parents may be wise to choose foods free from BHA".


How to check for antioxidants

Read ingredients lists. Supermarket cooking oils in Australia are nearly all free of antioxidants. The opposite is true in New Zealand, where it is almost impossible to buy cooking oil without BHA, BHT or tBHQ, except in health food stores. The only FAILSAFE oil in New Zealand, unless you can find overseas brands of oil, is cold-pressed soy oil. (Other cold-pressed oils contain too many salicylates.)


Antioxidants in processed foods are not listed unless they exceed 25% of the product, for example, in margarine. Any processed food which lists oil such as 'vegetable oil', 'canola oil', may contain antioxidants from the range 310-321, and many do. A "No added preservatives" label is no guarantee, as antioxidants are not considered to be preservatives by regulators.


Which foods?

BHA and BHT are not permitted in foods intended specifically for young children but any foods containing oils or vegetable shortening, from snack foods, pies and takeaways to biscuits, blended butter, bread, garlic paste and soymilk may contain antioxidants 310-321. BHA and BHT are used in plastic cling wrap and in walnut kernels and BHT is also used in cereal wrappers (see article below).

Reactions are dose-related, so the more you eat the more likely you are to react. Children are most vulnerable. Antioxidants reduce during cooking, but there is still enough to affect people who are sensitive or people who eat large quantities.


How do you know?


• Check for oil in the ingredients list or ask the supplier.

• For restaurants or unlabelled food you may have to ask to see the oil container.

• Write down the brand name, address and phone number of the manufacturer or distributor and the batch number.

• Phone the manufacturer of the oil and enquire about its contents.

If this sounds like a ridiculous amount of trouble, it is. FINA recently spent 5 weeks and more than 20 interstate phone calls trying to ascertain the antioxidants in a particular oil. Yet another example of how ANZFA fails to protect consumers.

The good news is that when ANZFA's P150 is accepted, manufacturers will be required to list more but not all of the antioxidants in oil. The bad news is that antioxidants 310-321 will be permitted in more foods and/or higher doses. So like New Zealanders, Australians might find themselves with no choice.

BHT in Kellogg's cereals


Polyethylene film package liners of ready-to-eat cereals have BHT added to control rancidity and prolong shelf life. Kelloggs has applied for an 25-fold increase in the permitted migration level of BHT into the food, from 2mg/kg to 50 mg/kg. Dr Dick Copeman of the Consumer Food Network comments that BHT is a suspected mutagen and carcinogen. In our experience it is useless to complain to ANZFA. Phone Kellogg's Consumer Feedback hotlines: 1800 000 474 (Australia) or 0800 881 889 (NZ)


ANZFA Proposals


The request for a massive increase in BHT is part new proposals (A405 & A407) from ANZFA in which ten new pesticides and one new antibiotic are being introduced and extensions of use are proposed for 30 pesticides and two antibiotics. Relaxation of existing Maximum Residue Levels are proposed for 16 pesticides while only three chemicals are having their uses restricted or cancelled.

Full copies of the proposals are obtainable ANZFA, PO Box 7186, Canberra ACT 2610, ph 02 6271 2222, Fax 02 6271 2278, or PO Box 10559, The Terrace Wellington, NZ, ph 04 473 9855, fax 04 473 9942, or from the ANZFA web page: http://www.anzfa.gov.au/ or by an email request to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


Not just a bad smell

A reader whose son was doing an elimination diet for respiratory problems noticed a worsening of symptoms when a new carpet was installed. VOCs (volatile organic compounds) have been associated with respiratory problems, headaches, fatigue and difficulty concentrating.

The following story comes from New Scientist (10 July 99, p64): Several weeks after Gerry Clark bought a carpet for his son's bedroom, the 'new carpet' smell hadn't dissipated. Since Clark is an analytical chemical, he took a piece of carpet to his lab and found that the carpet showed evidence of volatile organic compounds. With this evidence, Clark persuaded the shop to exchange the carpet. 'Which is all very well for chemists, but what about the rest of us?' asks New Scientist.


Readers' comments

'You've saved me a couple of thousand dollars. Within six days of starting FAILSAFE foods, my 5 year-old son's stuffy nose and snoring with breathing obstruction during sleep cleared up. So he didn't need an adenoidectomy as suggested by a medical specialist. As well, sneaky poos stopped by day 12 and anxiety disappeared within three weeks. During the diet, we noticed his stuffy nose/snoring was also triggered when we had a new carpet installed' . - NT

'I love reading the stories on your website, they give me the courage to go on.' - Qld


Minor details are crucial

Attention to minor details is crucial during an elimination diet. One small mistake daily can undo the effects. Some dietitians in South Australian have formed a group to share expertise in supervising the elimination diet. Royal Prince Alfred Hospital Allergy Unit also acts as a resource centre for dietitians.




*** Warning Warning *** off the list ...


Gourmet Garden Garlic Blend, ingredients: "fresh garlic, sunflower oil, milk solids, food acids (325, 330), sea salt, glucose, humectant (422), antioxidant 301, vegetable gum (415)". Everything is FAILSAFE except BHA (320) in the sunflower oil which doesn't have to be mentioned on the label.


***Product recommendation*** on the list ...


(all products this month are FAILSAFE, dairy and gluten free)


Pataks plain pappadums - a delicious snack which cooks in seconds in the microwave

Rice syrup, rice malt syrup, glucose syrup

Your questions:



Q. I have noticed that some processed foods can cause hyperactivity, barking, aggression and skin problems in some dogs, especially the small breeds. Can you tell me which ingredients to look for? - Dog trainer, NSW


A. Small dogs are more likely to react than big ones for the same reason that children are more affected than adults - the size of dose proportional to weight is bigger. Look for any of the usual "Big 50" artificial colours, preservatives and flavour enhancers (see FAILSAFE #11) in the ingredients list. Consider also unlisted additives. We phoned PAL about their "casserole with chicken". Colouring agents are blood and caramel (FAILSAFE); vegetable protein is a natural source of MSG which could cause problems; and despite "no preservatives added", the sunflower seed oil contains both BHA (320) and BHT (321). These additives have been known since the early 1970s to cause intolerance reactions.

Cooks' corner


Quick processor scones


3 cups SR flour

1½ tbspn butter or Nuttelex


Place flour and butter in the food processor and process until blended. Add water slowly until dough sticks together in a soft, wet clump. Knead briefly and roll out on a floured board. Cut into scone shapes with scone cutters, novelty shapes or the bottom of a drinking glass, and bake in a hot oven for 8-10 minutes. These freeze well and can be freshened up by microwaving. Serve with butter and golden syrup or pear jam.


Lentil spread


1/2 cup red lentils

2 roughly chopped garlic cloves (more if you're a garlic lover)

1 tbspn butter or nuttelex

1-2 tbspn pear chutney

Cook lentils in enough water to minimise excess liquid. When cooked, drain well (this is important) and vitamise with nuttlex and pear chutney. Refrigerate in a screw top jar. This is a savoury spread with freezes well or keeps for weeks in the fridge. - Margie Cole


Email support group


There are now mothers from nine countries in our new email discussion and support group, sharing their Failsafe recipes, successes, laughs and dramas from how to obtain Failsafe food and what icing sugar is called in the USA to how to change your school's policy on junk food.


To join, http://fedup.com.au/information/support/email-support-groups You will receive every message posted by group members. To contribute, press reply. How to unsubscribe details are on the foot of each message.



This newsletter available free by email from This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or by mail for $10 per year from PO Box 85 Parap NT 0804. Thanks to Margie Turner, Deborah Halliwell, Merryl Bock and named contributors © Sue Dengate (text). Further reading: The Simplified Elimination Diet from dietitians, Fed Up by Sue Dengate Random House, 1998 and Friendly Food, by Swain and others, Murdoch Books, 1991.