Fedup Newsletters




Newsletter of the Food Intolerance Network of Australia

August 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.



  • Depression, anxiety, panic attacks
  • This kind of support should be available to all families …
  • Children's learning ability
  • FAILSAFE food for school canteens
  • Cooks Corner: Vegetarian Casserole, Chicken and Cashews


Depression, anxiety, panic attacks


Depression, including panic disorder, is now the fourth most important health problem in the developing world. Depression affects more than 800,000 Australians each year. Women are twice as likely to be affected as men are. Depression costs the nation $5 billion annually. About 88 per cent of the 2400 people who commit suicide each year have a depressive disorder at the time of their deaths. By the year 2020, depression will become the number one health problem according to World Health Organisation predictions.

The relationship between food and depression is rarely acknowledged yet food-related panic attacks and depression to the point of suicide are documented in the medical literature. FAILSAFE readers have reported that salicylates, amines or additives can trigger these conditions. The message below is typical:

"Many thanks for answering my email concerning diet and mood in adults. I took your advice and went on the elimination diet. Within 24 hours my symptoms of depression, anxiety and panic attacks vanished. It has now been three weeks since I changed my diet and I have never felt better. My depression has disappeared and I have not had a panic attack. I have been suffering for six months from these symptoms and have spent a fortune on counsellors. I can't believe the difference that food has made to me. Thank you so much for your advice and I will now spread the word"

- reader, by email.

Further reading: Loblay RH and Swain AR. Food intolerance. In: Wahliqvist ML, Truswell AS, editors. Recent Advances in Clinical Nutrition. London: John Libbey 1986. p.169-77.


This kind of support should be available to all families …


"I received great professional help with my daughter last year in Canberra. I had read your book and rang PPIRS, Postnatal and Parenting Information and Referral Service on 02 6205 2000. They made an appointment with a community health department dietician.

"They also put me in touch with an occupational therapist who came to our home and gave us help with behaviour modification strategies including watching 123 Magic. A local Uniting church group shows the video 4 times a year and provides free childcare as a service to families in the community.

"I feel quite strongly that families must have the support of a dietician while attempting your diet as you mention in "Fed Up" and is the NHMRC recommendation for all children on special diets. The dietician we saw had the RPA Allergy Unit books for sale and the ANZFA additive code booklet as well as your book so I was quite relieved at our first meeting. She made herself available by phone. This was especially helpful during the challenges, which were a stressful time for an already stressed family.

"With the help of the occupational therapist, a second year at preschool and Relationships Australia to help with the strain our daughter's behaviour had put on our marriage we managed to get back in balance.

"Our daughter turned out to be sensitive to glutamates and additives especially 282 and colours. I believe that many families who try the diet without professional support will fail. It is a hard thing to ask for professional help however once you acknowledge you need support and that is OK the chance of real change is closer. We also saw the Community Paediatrician (the policy prior to doing the elimination diet). She was the most earnest doctor we have met and it was good to double check there wasn't a physical problem that had been overlooked. Please let others know the PPIRS phone number in your newsletter.

-reader, Canberra



In brief

  • Parents who can't get their children to eat Brussels sprouts simply aren't trying hard enough, according to a survey by Newspoll. While nutritional research suggests it takes eight to 10 attempts before children will accept new foods, more than half of Australian parents give up offering a food after two or three attempts. Fussy eating can be reduced by providing toddlers with repeated exposure to new foods and remaining calm when rejection takes place.
  • A recent study by Swedish oncologists has revealed clear links between one of the world's biggest selling herbicides, Roundup, to non-Hodgkin's lymphoma (NHL). About 70% of genetically engineered crops planted in 1998 were designed to be resistant to Roundup. According to the American Cancer society there has been an 80% increase in the incidence of NHL since the 1970s. Farmers are particularly at risk. Further reading: Hardell and Eriksson, A case-control study of non-Hodgkin's Lymphoma and exposure to pesticides, Cancer, 1999,85(6).
  • The computer virus, which recently bothered some of our discussion group, has now been cleared up. Former members are very welcome to return.


Children's learning ability


We have previously reported on a South London's school's ban on additive-containing snack foods. Within two years, the success rate for 11-year-olds in stage two English at Wolney Junior School almost tripled, from 23% of pupils achieving expected results in 1996 to 64% in 1998.

In a huge trial in the USA, the introduction of a low additive, low sugar policy in breakfasts and lunches supplied by 803 New York City schools over 4 years was followed by a nearly 16% increase in academic ranking compared to the rest of the nation's schools. There was a significant decline in learning disabled children, from 12% to 5%.

Although sugar has been found not to affect children's behaviour, a sugar-free policy will result in avoidance of foods such as sweets and soft drinks, which usually contain additives and high salicylates.

In the 1950s, school tuckshops were called Oslos. Mothers ran them and their aim was to serve healthy foods to students. Fifty years on most school tuckshops have a barefaced profit policy. Complaints by teachers about the effects of salty plums and soft drink vending machines on the student's behaviour and concentration are usually met by explanations from the Principal that the money raised will be used on much-needed school resources.

We often hear from parents and teachers that the best schools are schools without tuckshops:

" I had the pleasure of relieving in a small country school recently and I was so surprised while on lunch duty to see what the children were eating - food prepared from home and hardly any packaged stuff. Mind you, the school has tuckshop only every second Friday prepared by rostered parents with foods such as homemade muffins. " - teacher, Qld

Further reading: Schoenthaler SJ and others. The impact of a low food additive and sucrose diet on academic performance in 803 New York City public schools. International Journal of Biosocial Research, 1986 (8)2:185-195.


Readers' comments

"I was referred to your book by a friend who had great success with her overactive son. I too have had success, however my 4-year-old boy has always been the opposite. He was always tired and grizzly. He would get upset easily if he couldn't do something and would rarely amuse himself. I also had to make sure I put him to bed at the right time or he wouldn't settle and would wake between 5 and 6 o'clock in the morning. He would also wake up very cranky and require his breakfast straight away but wouldn't eat much. It was very difficult to persuade him to do what we would like. As a consequence it caused a lot of friction in the family and I would often hate him.

"I didn't do the complete elimination diet but am mainly using food without preservatives, home made bread, have cut out drinks such as coke (which we usually only allowed on Sundays for a treat), flavoured milks, Barbecue Shapes, tomato sauce etc and have limited the fruit and vegetables you suggest to avoid.

"Now he is a changed boy. He sleeps in until nearly 7 o'clock, wakes up in a good mood and doesn't demand his meals straight away. He is very happy and co-operative and his appetite has increased immensely. He originally scored a 50 on your Food Intolerance Checklist [Fed Up, page 109] and now only rates a 5.

"A friend who still teaches looked into the children's lunch boxes and discovered that 99% of the children had pre-packed food ie chips. I was astounded."

- teacher, Victoria"



"I am furious to find that our school is back selling RED LICORICE. When I asked about it they said it was able to be sold because it had a Heart Foundation tick of approval ..... good for your heart and little else! It also is the only product that ensures the tuckshop makes a profit .... just shows how much they sell!"

- reader, NZ


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:


Q. I am after a list of foods that would be suitable for our junior school canteen. Our school canteen volunteers have been looking at introducing failsafe foods on a gradual basis into our canteen while at the same time reducing the amount of lethal stock the kids are currently being offered.

A. Of the schools overseas which have achieved big improvements, Wolney Junior introduced fruit only (other than hot meals); nearby White Manor school sold muesli bars which are not totally additive-free (sulphites in dried fruit) but much better than flavoured snacks. See Deborah Halliwell's suggestions (below) for an Australian canteen. Since pies are often the biggest sellers, she has spent months trying to find an additive-free pie. Close but not good enough is the Munja pie from WA, additive-free according to the representative, but in fact containing HVP (a natural form of MSG) as well as BHA (320 ) in vegetable oil. Deborah could not find ANY pies without BHA. Please contact us if you know of one. Interestingly, BHA was one of the additives specifically excluded by the 803 NY schools, see article this newsletter. We welcome suggestions from readers and food suppliers.


FAILSAFE food for school canteens


I am the President of the Parents and Friends Association which runs the canteen at our school (as seen on A Current Affair). So over the past two years I have been slowly eliminating chemicals mainly colours, flavours and preservatives. We have a range of FAILSAFE foods as well.

We only use Brumby's bread and Nuttelex margarine. Once a month we have a sausage sizzle and cook extra so there are always FAILSAFE sausages and rissoles in the freezer for sandwiches and burgers. There are only FAILSAFE sausages and burgers available on BBQ days. So all the children have FAILSAFE lunch. Sometimes we have homemade additive-free fried rice.

Most of our kids have Kettle chips, white marshmallows, Granny's butterscotch, rice cakes with spread, pretzels, carob buttons, Brumby's finger buns, Kellogg's rice bubble treats or homemade FAILSAFE sausage rolls for recess.

Magic icecups are sold plus water icecups at 10 cents each, and Peter's Dixie Cup icecreams. We also sell FAILSAFE plain milk, bottled spring water and Soyaccino, as well as additive-free fruit juice.

There are also extras like FAILSAFE free-range hard-boiled eggs and vanilla fruche or colour-free vanilla yoghurt as well as fruit yoghurts.

For sandwiches we have FAILSAFE food like egg & lettuce, fresh chicken, homemade cashew paste, homemade pear jam, philly cheese as well as other 'normal' fillings e.g. ham & cheese.

From a financial viewpoint I have turned the canteen around from a loss to a $3000.00 profit this year and our margins are minimal.

- Deborah Halliwell


Cooks' corner


Vegetarian Casserole


As I was preparing the Mince Casserole in Fed Up [p251], planning to use some veal mince, my husband announced "If I may say this, ah, I don't much like veal, that's all". So I proceeded with the rest of the ingredients and we had a lovely creamy textured veg-casserole. In addition, I never use cheese, instead I add a teaspoon of salt to a white sauce, thickened with cornflour, and everyone is completely fooled, thinking that I make the best cheese sauces in the world! This trick goes way back to my non-dairy days.

So the recipe went like this:

4 large potatoes, knife-peeled and sliced thin

1 clove garlic chopped, mixed with 1 sliced leek

quarter cabbage, diced

2 cups white sauce using large scoop Nuttelex, melted, cover with generous cornflour to blend, 1 cup soy milk, 1 cup water, 1 tsp salt.

Cover the base with a layer of potato, then half of the garlic and leek and half the cabbage. Repeat the layering and cover with two cups of white sauce. Cook uncovered at 170 in fan forced (180 in conventional) for one hour.

- Benitta Robertson


Chicken and Cashews


This one is for when you have a little bit of time for preparation but it is worth it.

500g chicken breast fillets

1/2 cup rice flour


1 teaspoon sugar

1 teaspoon salt

1/4 cup cashews processed with one large clove of garlic

chopped or shredded cabbage


Chop chicken into strips (as for stir frying). Put rice flour in a freezer bag and coat the chicken in it. Shallow fry in some oil. Set cooked chicken aside in a dish with some paper towel to absorb excess oil. Drain most of the oil from frypan and discard.

Add processed cashews and garlic to frypan with salt and sugar and a dash of water. Stir until it forms a fairly runny sauce. Add more water if needed - even a cup or so. Add cabbage and chicken and stir until the whole lot is coated in sauce. Put the lid on and let the cabbage steam while you serve up the pasta and beans etc. You could even do the first bit earlier in the day and just do the sauce bit at dinner time. Serves 4-5.

- Diane Sylvester



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, Jenny Saal, Linda Beck, 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.