Fedup Newsletters




Newsletter of the Food Intolerance Network of Australia

May 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.



  • TV show on diet
  • "Minutes away from death" (Additive 635)
  • The tide turns
  • Readers' stories: - school tuckshops
  • Questions:
  • Recipes: marshmallows, rice bubble treats


TV Show on diet


We have been inundated with positive feedback from viewers since the screening of Channel 9's A Current Affair's recent feature on ADD and diet.

Some of the filming took place at this network's headquarters in Darwin. While parents talked about diet-related improvements in their children's behaviour, Essington school children ate failsafe foods from their school canteen. Viewer's reactions included: "my mother-in-law could not say enough good about the program and the diet (things we have been telling her for years)", "I can hardly wait to start the diet with my son", "we really need to educate the mainstream medical profession - their ignorance is preventing a lot of children and their families from getting the help that they really need", and "they say only 5% of people with ADD have problems with food but I know in our support group most of us have problems with our kids and foods".

Many thanks to paediatrician Dr Velencia Soutter, an allergy associate physician at Royal Prince Alfred Hospital Allergy Clinic. Dr Soutter confirmed on TV what we parents already know: "at least one third are substantially better with the diet, one third are significantly better and there's a group where the parents say 'well, they are better but the diet wasn't worth the effort'. So it's not the answer for everyone with behaviour problems. But if it is, it makes a big difference and certainly for many of them it's a blessing when it comes to avoiding medication".

Some viewers have already started the diet and seen changes, "I feel like I am doing something positive for my family in taking the time to make them good things to eat and eliminating all those preservatives that I had no idea were so harmful. The failsafe diet is not hard to do at all; it just takes good organisation, commitment and perseverance. We are on day 4 of the diet and both kids seem calmer, even commented on by my mum".

- Sue Dengate



"Minutes away from death"


Two years ago, flavour enhancer 635 (sodium 5'ribonucleotide) was approved for use as a food additive. Soon after its approval, a paediatrician asked us which ingredient in Maggi two minute noodles could cause 'a dramatic skin eruption' in a four year old boy. Since then 635 has been introduced into a variety of tasty foods including some brands of pies, flavoured chips, CC's corn chips and Maggi flavoured noodles. Following are some of the complaints we have received. Four of the children were identified by the same pharmacy assistant, who noticed parents buying lots of calamine and antihistamines. Everyone commented that the reaction was unusual, "he never gets skin rashes"

  • a nearly 6 year old girl from NT developed an intensely itchy skin rash 24 hours after a class party with party pies, pediatrician at hospital prescribed Phenergan, 3 others in class with milder rashes.
  • 55-year-old woman from SA developed a dramatic rash that lasted two weeks after eating party pies; antihistamines were not very effective.
  • 13 yo boy from NT developed an intensely itchy skin rash from the soles of his feet to the top of his head after eating a pie at a friend's place, the contents of the pie could not be determined.
  • 11 yo boy from NT developed an intensely itchy skin rash from 30 hours after eating party pies at a class party, the rash spread from chest to feet, then from chest to top of head, coming and going for 10 days. Missed one week of school. One other in class with milder rash.
  • 2 yo girl from Victoria developed a dramatic all-over itchy skin rash after eating Maggi instant noodles for dinner. Rushed to emergency room at midnight, needed antihistamines for two weeks. The family's regular brand of noodles (all the same ingredients except for 635) do not affect her.
  • 50ish woman from NT developed a mild but persistent skin rash after changing brand of frozen pie eaten once a week. New brand contains 635.
  • 40ish man from Qld developed constant itchy rash over the last two years, eats CC's corn chips (containing 635) every day.
  • 50ish man from NT developed a dramatic itchy rash within hours of eating "a handful" of CC's corn chips.
  • 8 yo boy from NT ate one packet of Lays Country Style Sour Cream and Onion chips on Easter Saturday, wanting the Pokemon card inside. The next day he ate another half a packet and developed a "head to toe itchy rash like a map of Australia, huge and bumpy" according to pharmacy assistant. Eyelids started to swell. He arrived at the pharmacy with the chip packets and his parents saying, "we think it was these". Contents included 635.

And here is a report from a reader:

"on the subject of the flavour enhancer 635, I have a story regarding this from the eight-year old boy next door:

"Last year he ate a pie bought from a bakery shop near his mother's workplace. Not only did he get the skin reaction he also suffered a life-threatening anaphylactic-type reaction with swelling of mouth, tongue and throat. The doctor (fortunately a doctor's surgery was just around the corner) who treated him said that he was probably a matter of minutes away from death. He remained on antihistamines for weeks and missed a lot of school. For days his lips protruded four inches or so! The family was unable to find out what was in the pie and so the cause of the reaction remained a mystery. A little over a month ago this child was given two or three CC's by a friend at school. Within a short time his arms were itching and his chest was covered in red and white wheals. This reaction was not as severe as the pie incident (the dose was no doubt much lower). I think that reaction took a week to subside. His mother has commented that this boy has had no problems of this kind until last year, although he does have a history of mild asthma. It wasn't until I was looking through your web site that I found the more-than-likely culprit. The family is very grateful. Once again THANK YOU! Surely 635 cannot go on being legal - if it was a drug it would be taken off the market or used, if deemed necessary, with extreme caution under hospital conditions, I'm sure!"

In the past, anaphylactic shock has been considered an IgE mediated allergic response. Anaphylactoid reactions are increasing and RPAH researchers suggest that they can also be a pharmacological reaction to various food chemicals. We have submitted a formal request to ANZFA for an investigation of the effects of this additive.

We welcome further reports of reactions to this additive. - Thanks to reader Alison Cliff from Qld.



The tide turns


In the UK, food manufacturer Iceland plc is in the process of excluding artificial colours, flavours, aspartame and, wherever safe to do so, artificial preservatives from its own brand products. Manufacturer ASDA writes "we will also take into consideration the concerns of our customers, for example, the removal of all Genetically Modified ingredients and additives from our own label range of food product and the removal of monosodium glutamate from our crisp range".

In Australia, it's good to see that some food manufacturers recognise the effects of food additives. From the label of Kidsfruitz cordial, "The observations of many parents, medical practitioners and dietitians suggest a possible link between artificial colours and flavours and certain behavioural problems in young children. The symptoms of intolerance to these chemicals, which are found in most cordials, can include: •out of control behaviour •out of character behaviour, •overactivity and irritability •tenseness •headaches •mouth ulcers •recurrent hives. These symptoms not only affect the children but the entire family, so Kidsfruitz is a more appropriate cordial choice. Kidsfruitz contains NO artificial colours and flavours ... its great flavours and colours come only from real fruit." Thank you, Kidsfruitz! (Now if they could just avoid preservatives 211 and 223 ...)

Readers' comments

"I have worked in primary school canteens trying hard to introduce healthy balanced nutritious menus to kids -sometimes easy -and parents- sometimes hard. I have found it hardest to deal with parents who like to give their kids treats and popular foods."

"I am a teacher in Queensland, originally from The Netherlands. I find it a great and very interesting new world. One thing I can't get over though is the eating habit of many Australians and their children. The most shocking I find the policy of the school tuckshop. They're are not giving a very good example."

"Last year we went on a 4 day kids camp and I found a way around the food problem by taking up the position of head cook for the weekend. All the kids ate failsafe food and I tell you we had a great camp. The other leaders said it was the best camp they have ever had with no kids playing up or throwing up. The other kids didn't even know." - Sheree, discussion group


"I've just finished reading your book "Different Kids" and for the first time since my daughter has been eating solid food, I feel a sense of hope. I have been thinking her behaviour was something I was doing wrong. I've been to doctors, and made to feel that I am a stupid woman worrying for no reason " She's just a normal kid". Thank God I've just had a visit from my aunt who also has a son with ADD. She watched my daughter for about half an hour then went to the library and borrowed your book for me. She was able to pick up in half an hour what doctors haven't been able to see for 2 years. I'm extremely keen to start my daughter on the elimination diet .."


READERS' DETAILS AND READERS STORIES at http://fedup.com.au/success-stories/current-stories

Your questions:

Check out the newly updated Questions and Answers section in the website with detailed answers to your questions:

  • Does the diet help people with Aspergers', Tourettes', sleep apnoea, ADD in adults? (Yes).
  • When there is no obvious reason for heart attack type symptoms, have you been eating MSG? (Yes).
  • Also more details on the death in Michigan of a 14 year old boy, thought to be associated with 10 years of Ritalin taking.

Cooks' corner




3 tblspn gelatine

1 cup cold water

4 cups sugar

1 1/2 cups hot water

vanilla or citric acid "lemon juice" to taste

icing sugar


Soak gelatine in cold water. Bring sugar and hot water to boiling point. Add soaked gelatine and boil gently for 20 minutes. Pour into a large mixing bowl. Cool and add flavour (opt). Beat until thick. Pour into wetted 28 x 18 cm slab cake pan. When cold, cut into squares and toss in a mixture of icing sugar and cornflour.


Rice Bubble Treats


200 g of home-made marshmallows (above)

or 2 x 100g packets of Pascall's white marshmallows

80 g butter or Nuttelex

4 cups rice bubbles

Measure rice bubbles and place them in a large bowl. Line a lamington/ swiss roll tray with ovenbake paper. Melt marshmallows & butter over low heat, stirring so it doesn't burn. Pour the marshmallow and butter mix onto the rice bubbles. Mix well. Tip into lined tray and press down. This may work best with a metal spoon as the mixture cools.

- Sharon Fishlock



Email support group


There are now mothers from ten 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, Alison Cliff, Jane Moore, Dorothy Bowes, Additive Survivors Network (UK) 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.