Fedup Newsletters




Newsletter of the Food Intolerance Network of Australia

April 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.



  • Ritalin over-use?
  • Behaviour in schools
  • The right stuff: bread
  • Migraines
  • Recipes: icypoles, potato patties


Ritalin over-use?

  • Nearly seven million children in the US are being given drugs such as Ritalin that is commonly used to treat attention deficit disorder.
  • In Britain, Ritalin use increased from 3,500 in 1993 to 125,000 in 1998.
  • In Australia, prescriptions of stimulant drugs such as Ritalin rose from 23,340 in 1990 to 346,000 in 1998.

February's Journal of the American Medical Association reported that the use of drugs such as Ritalin by children aged two to four years has tripled in the past five years.

"What sort of person has a child, then dopes it to the eyeballs with a cocktail of chemicals when it acts like a child?" asks New York journalist Christine Jackman.

We suggest it could be a parent whose child exhibits "constant crying, tantrums, irritability, restlessness and severe sleep disturbance ... parents are likely to be exhausted through lack of sleep and the constant demands of their children, who are unable to be comforted and controlled".

This is the kind of behaviour that is caused by food additives, according to Melbourne researchers Drs Rowe and Rowe (J Pediatrics, 1994).


It's time to stop bashing mothers and direct at least some of the blame to the food manufacturers who have filled our food with so many additives that they are almost impossible to avoid.


White House steps in


The White House has announced a major effort, launched by Hillary Rodham Clinton, to reverse a sharp increase in the number of children using Ritalin, Prozac and other powerful psychiatric drugs.

- from the New York Times "White House seeks to curb pills used to calm the young", Robert Pear 20/3/2000.


Behaviour in schools


In 1979, the principal of Taupo intermediate school in New Zealand realised the effects of diet on his students and improved the school canteen. No foods containing artificial colourings or flavourings were sold. The pastry and filling in pies and sausage rolls had to be additive-free. The misdemeanours book, where he recorded incidents of bad behaviour, showed a marked reduction in entries after the change in foods. Visitors noted how well the children played and worked.

Children's comments on how they felt before and after making dietary changes are the most moving. The recurring theme is happiness. Typical comments were: 'I feel so much better now', 'I don't get angry inside anymore', and 'I don't get those awful noises in the head any more'. One preschooler reported 'I had a motor inside me and it would not stop even when I wanted it to because I was tired. It has stopped now and I feel pink and still, before I always felt black'.

- from School Canteens: just what's on the menu? by Melanie Dicks-Drewery, Healthy Options magazine, March 1999, p60-63


The right stuff: bread


What should you look for in bread? First, avoid any of the Big 50 additives.

Most common in bread are propionates (280-282) as mould inhibitors or preservatives, sulphites (220-228), especially sodium metabisulphite (223) as a flour treatment agent, and antioxidants (310-321) used in vegetable oils. Antioxidants will not necessarily be included in the ingredient list (see FAILSAFE #16). Avoid also vinegar, and whey powder (see food technology trick, below).

Do not believe bakers who claim it is impossible to make bread without harmful additives.


The following ingredients all FAILSAFE:


Brumby's bread: baker's flour, yeast, soy flour, calcium sulphate (516), ascorbic acid (300), L-cysteine hydrochloride (920), sugar, water, salt, oil. Since each Brumby's outlet buys its own oil, if you are having problems, check for antioxidants. The ones we have checked contain FAILSAFE vitamin E tocopherols (306).


Laucke's breadmaker premix: (crusty white bread): unbleached wheaten flour, yeast, salt, soya flour, emulsifier 472(e), ascorbic acid (300), calcium sulphate (516), thiamin, enzyme (amylase). Phone 1800 243 454 to find where to buy Laucke's products near you.


Food technology trick: Beware of breads which are free of "artificial preservatives" but contain whey powder or whey solids. This is an old food technologists' trick to produce calcium propionate naturally during the baking process so that the manufacturers can use that desirable term "all natural". The calcium propionate so produced will cause the same adverse effects as additive 282.

- Further reading: Blatz B The classical propionibacteria American Society for Microbiology News 1992, 58(4):197-201; Sue Dengate, Different Kids, p100-101


Readers' comments

'I have a 3½-year-old son whose behaviour is terrible and who gets constant ear infections. My doctor suggested buying "Fed Up" and trying a change of diet ... I would like to join this FAILSAFE Support Group.' - WA (send requests to join the support group to http://fedup.com.au/information/support/email-support-groups

'I am finding "Different Kids" most useful as I am helping a little boy at school who is on Ritalin and displaying lots of the behaviour patterns described in your book. It's great to start off with a few strategies.' - Qld




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

Peters Chocolate Billabong: This product is an example of what's happening to our food. Most consumers won't notice a difference because, apart from the ingredients list, the wrapper has not changed. These icypoles used to be a relatively healthy treat.

The old product contained: skim milk concentrate and or whey solids, sugar, cream, cocoa, gelatine, egg yolk, vegetable gum (guar gum) water added.


The new product, now called ice confection instead of low fat icecream, is loaded with artificial colours and flavours: skim milk concentrate and or whey solids, sugar, glucose syrup, vegetable fat and or milk fat, cocoa, maltodextrin, emulsifier 471, vegetable gums (412, 466, 407), flavours, gelatine, colours (150, 122, 155, 102, 133, 123, 110) water added.


There are six yellow, red and blue artificial colours in a brown icypole that looks no different from the previous product. Why? According to customer services, "Hard to say, really. It's a marketing thing." And if a child suddenly develops problems, who's to know what caused it?


If you would prefer Nestlé to use the old Peters recipe, please phone Nestlé Customer Services on 1800 633 200.


*** Product recommendation*** on the list …

New: Amaranth breakfast cereal is high fibre, low fat, nutritious, gluten free, FAILSAFE and available in some supermarkets.

Your questions:



Q: For several years I was able to control my migraines through diet. Recently, however, the frequency of these headaches has increased from perhaps one a year to one or more a week. I have allowed the gradual return of wheat and some other foods into my diet but until recently without undue effects. Have any changes taken place in the last couple of months that could account for this problem?


A: Perhaps you have exceeded your tolerance level by gradually increasing your intake of natural chemicals like amines or salicylates. Or a food additive may have been introduced into a frequently eaten food. The most likely is calcium propionate (282), linked to migraines in Hanssen's Additive Code Breaker, 1999. This additive has been introduced over the last ten years and is now present in nearly all bread, especially in summer. The dose varies between breads and seasons. Reactions usually build up slowly.

Cooks' corner


Chocolate icypoles


1/2 cup sugar

1 tablespoon unflavored gelatine

pinch of salt

1/4 cup carob powder (cocoa if amines are okay)

2-1/2 cups milk

1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla essence (opt)

In a saucepan, stir together the sugar, gelatine, salt and carob. With a wire whisk or rotary beater, beat in the milk. Cook the mixture, stirring, over low heat just until the sugar and gelatine are dissolved. Remove from heat, and stir in the vanilla. Pour the mixture into a 9 x 5 x 3 inch (229 x 127 x 76 mm) loaf pan, and freeze until firm, but not hard, about 4 hours. Pour the mixture into a large bowl, and beat with a mixer until smooth. Pour into icypole molds or paper cups and freeze until hard. - Linda (discussion group)


Potato patties


4 -5 cooked, chilled potatoes, grated

2 tbspn finely chopped shallots

1 tsp salt

¼ cup flour

¼ cup milk or soymilk

2 tbspn canola oil

Set frypan to 150° and heat oil. Mix potatoes with shallots, salt, flour and milk. Shape into about 8 patties. Fry in oil on each side until brown. Drain on kitchen paper and serve with pear ketchup.


Bubble & squeak


Mix leftover mashed potato and leftover cabbage together. Fry in oil on both sides until brown. Top with chopped chives or parsley. - traditional



Email support group


There are now mothers from nine countries in our new email discussion and support group, sharing their 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, Marina Dalla Rosa, Sally Bunday (HACSG) and 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.