Fedup Newsletters




Newsletter of the Food Intolerance Network

June - July 2001


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

The FAILSAFE_Newsletter 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.




  • Talks planned in Sydney, Darwin, Canberra, Melbourne, Brisbane, Tasmania and Alice Springs
  • In brief: Heart problems, beriberi, junk food, GM maize mixup, chemical hazards, sunblock, 'unnecessariness principle'
  • Readers' stories: on chronic fatigue, Restless Legs Syndrome, baby affected by food chemicals in breastmilk, PMT, irritable bowel and weight loss, aching joints, epileptic seizures, irregular pulse and atrial fibrillation, fast heart beat (tachycardia), headaches, depression, lethargy, paraesthesia (numbness), rash, asthma, sneaky poos, behaviour.



Hi everyone.

Since the last newsletter, my 18-year-old daughter has left home to become a fulltime student in another city 1500 km away. This was the time I had always dreaded. How was she going to survive in the real world, having to cater for herself? Two months later, I can report that she is sharing a house with two other young women, one of whom has also been failsafe for six years. They are rostered to cook two or three nights a week, the meals are failsafe, the house food is failsafe, and the non-failsafe flatmate can add her own options. It is working extremely well. I am relieved! Cheers

- Sue Dengate





Sue Dengate will be giving talks as follows See website (talks) for more details:


Sydney NSW Tuesday 21 August at 10am, Motherinc, Manly. See www.motherinc.com.au


Blue Mountains NSW (Springwood) Wednesday 22 August at 7.30pm, ph 3261 1885, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


Darwin NT Tuesday 28 August, Bakewell PS ph 8932 1520.


Canberra ACT Sunday 9 September, 2pm Canberra & Queanbeyan ADHD Ass, ph 0412 742 504, email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..


Melbourne VIC Tuesday 11 September, Lady Gowrie Childcare Centre, details TBA


Brisbane QLD Thursday 13 September, 7.30pm, Zillmere PCYC, tickets from Bracken Ridge Kindergarten Ass, ph 3269 8126bh or 3261 1885ah.


Tasmania 8-12 October 2001, details TBA.


Alice Springs October, date TBA, ph 8952 8057).




Aggressive commercialism which has seen the US school system become a franchise for Coke, Pepsi and other big name brands has roused the indignation of parents, activists, educators and politicians and led to a backlash in the USA.

The number of so-called "schoolhouse commercialism" agreements involving corporate sponsorship or marketing in American schools grew fourfold in the past 10 years, according to Alex Molnar at the Centre for Analysis of Commercialism in Education at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. Commercialism in schools is not new, says Molnar, "but what's different is the aggressiveness and pervasiveness of it, the collapsing of any kind of restraint or sense of responsibility for the intent. It's an extraordinary exploitation of childhood".

In the USA, children have doubled their soft drink intake over the past 20 years and now drink an average of 230 litres per kid per year, junk-laden diets have doubled child obesity rates in the same period and bad diets have launched an epidemic of childhood diabetes and other problems.

In a Colorado Springs schools district, Coca Cola agreed to pay more than $A60 per student per year if the schools sold 70,000 cases of Coke in at least one of the first three years of the contract. To reach this objective, school principals were instructed by the schools board to allow students access to Coke vending machines all day, to permit students to drink Coke all day and to be allowed some Coke drinks in classrooms during lessons.

The marketing firm which brokered the Colorado Springs deal in 1997 has since negotiated other soft drinks with schools with a total value of $US300 million. Taco Bell now sells its fast food directly to kids in 20,000 US schools, Pizza Hut in 4,000 and the makers of Prozac send speakers out to talk to kids about how to deal with depression.

As the number of school sponsorship stories has multiplied, so has the indignation of the community and the backlash has begun. Senators have started to agitate, ordering and investigation into advertising in schools and debating federal legislation to crack down on it. "All we're trying to do is put up a warning sign", says Senator Christopher Dodd, a Democrat from Connecticut. "The three Rs should not stand for retail, resale and rebate".

- ref: US schools reject Coke's plan to 'teach the world', Peter Hartcher, The Australian Financial Review 6/7/01, p27.




Autism involves impairment of social interaction, communication and imaginative activities. Only 6 years ago, high profile neurologist Oliver Sacks wrote that the incidence of autism was about 1 in 1000, "and it occurs throughout the world, its features remarkably consistent even in extremely different cultures." He also noted that autism is generally noted recognised in the first year of life but tends to be noticed in the second or third year. Recent research now reveals rates of autism as high as 1 in 250 in the US (www.cdc.gov); 1 in 324 in England (Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, vol 39, p694); and 1 in 483 in Finland (European Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, vol 9, p 162). In the British study of over 16,000 children from south London, four out of five children appeared normal at 18 months, exhibiting good eye contact, fantasy play and pointing, which suggests that the previously rare regressive pattern of onset is now the most common type of this condition. (Refs - An anthropologist on Mars, Sacks, Picador, 1995; New Scientist, 10/3/01, p56). Autistic members of this network recommend a failsafe dairy-free, gluten-free elimination diet. Not everyone reacts to every food chemical, but it is worth avoiding and challenging "the lot" - especially salicylates.




Studies in Australia and Britain have found high levels of toxic chemicals leaking from newly built houses. In Melbourne, a CSIRO study found that houses less than a year old had up to 20 times the safety limit of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) recommended by the NHMRC. In Britain, concentrations of VOCs in homes less than a year old were twice as high as in homes built 10 years ago. Chemicals used in construction materials leach into the air inside buildings. Formaldehyde, which causes skin irritation and possibly cancer, is used in the manufacture of wooden boards for flooring and furniture. Another suspected carcinogen, styrene, seeps out of new carpets, while paints and solvents give off a variety of toxic compounds. These chemicals could lead to headaches and badly affect a small group of especially sensitive individuals, says Jeff Llewellyn, the Building Research Establishment's indoor air pollution expert. - ref: New Scientist, 10/3/01, p.20.




A reader tells us that her sister-in-law set up a food intolerance group in Holland about 15 years ago "when the notion of chemical and food sensitivity was still very radical and met with major hostility, often led by the medical profession. However, they also got some wonderful support, and my sister-in-law did a lot of seminars to parent groups throughout the country. They managed to have quite a number of food colourings banned in Holland, and on a later visit to Oz were amazed at what manufacturers are still allowed to put into lollies here".



In brief


HEART RHYTHMS: after a number of deaths overseas, caffeinated energy drinks such as Red Bull, Lift, V and Black Stallion will be required to carry health warnings for children, pregnant and breastfeeding women and anyone sensitive to caffeine. Most recently, 31 year old Australian web designer Tim Lloyd died in Hong Kong of a heart attack his family believe was caused after drinking a pitcher of Red Bull and vodka. Local nutritionists have recently raised concerns that the drinks can cause abnormal heart rhythms. (ref: NT News, 3/8/01) See readers' reports below for ways in which food chemicals can cause heart problems.


BERIBERI: A father in the US reports that his son reacts to the vitamins that are added to white rice. In Australia, enriching white rice with vitamins is permitted only in rice exported to third world countries. This is because of beriberi, a thiamin (Vitamin B1) deficiency disease which causes muscle weakness and pains, poor appetite, tingling of the hands and legs, inability to sleep and eventually cardiac failure and death. Thiamin is removed by milling of wholegrains. Third-world populations who lively largely on white rice are susceptible to beriberi, as are American children who live on junk food (see FAILSAFE #5). Thiamin is found in whole grains (including brown rice), lean meat, chicken and fish, legumes and peas.


JUNK FOOD: Australia has a heart attack rate about double that of countries like Sweden. Researchers suggest that about 40% of coronary events could be prevented by: halving the level of smoking, reducing physical inactivity, and lowering average cholesterol levels. Perhaps some of the taxes collected from smoking and junk foods should be dedicated to education campaigns aimed at reducing their consumption suggests Ian Lowe, (New Scientist, 24/3/01, p55.)


GM MAIZE MIX-UP: A massive 430 million bushels, equivalent to 4% of the entire 1999 harvest, is contaminated with a genetically engineered variety that hasn't been approved for human consumption. (New Scientist, 24/3/01, p13).




* Use of permanent hair dyes, compared to temporary or semi-permanent colours, can increase your risk of bladder cancer. (International J of Cancer, vol 91, p 575).

* Long-term exposure to industrial paints and solvents increases levels of personality disorder in dockyard painters. The finding suggests that commonly used solvents such as xylene and toluene may be damaging the nervous system. (Occupational and Environmental Medicine, vol 58, p14).

* Fumes generated during welding may accelerate the onset of Parkinson's disease by up to 15 years. Manganese is thought to be the possible cause. (Neurology, vol 56, p 8).


SUN BLOCK: Chemicals in sunscreens can trigger developmental abnormalities in rats. Of six chemicals tested, five (benzophenone-3, homosalate, 4-methyl-benzylidene camphor (4MBC), octylmethoxycinnamate and octyldimethyl-PABA) behaved like oestrogen in lab tests, making cancer cells grow more rapidly. Three caused developmental effects in animals. Only one, butyl-methoxydibenoylmethane (B-MDM) showed no activity. 4MBC had the strongest effect. Sunblocks like zinc oxide and long sleeves might be a safer alternative. - Environmental health perspectives, vol 109, p239.


ARE THEY NECESSARY? Regulators should apply an "unnecessariness principle" to dispense with chemicals that "make no difference to how the products work", according to Steen Gade, head of the Danish Environmental Protection Agency. 


Diet not working as well as you'd hoped?


One tiny mistake can make a huge difference. For fine-tuning, see the updated list on the website Checklist of common mistakes. Also new guidelines for extra sensitive amine responders, thanks to Alison and Karl from the email discussion group.

Readers tell us this list is very useful.


Readers' comments


Food chemicals can affect everyone from fully breastfed babies to senior citizens with an astonishing range of distressing effects. Thank you for your reports and comments. See summaries below with more details and extra reports on the website.


Chronic fatigue: My husband has suffered from chronic fatigue syndrome for 11 years. We have been following the food lists suggested in your 'Fed Up' book for about a month and I have noticed a huge difference already. He sleeps better and is generally having more good days than bad. When he cheated (not on purpose) by having "junk" food, he suffered for it the next few days, not sleeping properly, and with the usual general aching and unwellness. The week after re-commencing failsafe foods, he is again feeling good and positive that eating failsafe is just the beginning of a great new life. - WA


Restless Legs Syndrome: Restless Legs Syndrome was absolutely driving me crazy. If I forced my legs to be still, they would then jerk with even greater intensity. While I was watching TV, my legs were constantly swinging, because of this urge to move them. They were not itchy - it was just like there was something under the skin driving me crazy. Apparently most sufferers go on to become alcoholics (ref: The Bulletin 2000) which I can understand. American websites about RLS basically fall back onto all sorts of medication, which I do not want to take. Within two weeks of trying the elimination diet, I was able to sit still at night, AND get into bed without fear of tossing and turning all night because of this urge to move my legs. I now know the foods I should not touch - salicylates and additives ... when I eat any of these forbidden foods there is a definite reaction. - NSW


Baby affected by food chemicals in breastmilk: I have a 10mth old baby boy who screamed for the first 3 and half months of his life all day and half of the night until my doc got me onto a dietitian and we tried the elimination diet. Every time I do food tests he reacts by screaming in agony within 24 hours and often gets a nasty red rash on his face and not so severe rash on his back and stomach. Before we tried the diet, we were hospitalised twice because I just couldn't cope. He reacts to most additives but the bread preservative is the worst and he also reacts very badly to amines. - Dani Hewton, WA


PMT: The biggest thing in my life is that my PMT has gone. I am amazed. I have had this problem for so many years. It was ruling my life and threatening my marriage to the point where earlier this year I started taking Lovan (another name for Prozac) to help me with it. I know you said that PMT disappears on the diet but I must admit mine was so bad I really didn't believe you. Anyway, my PMT has completely gone. I am convinced about this diet now! - NT


Irritable bowel and weight loss: I was always tired with sneezing fits every afternoon, very irritable, easily reduced to tears, had rashes on my legs, an ear infection which would not clear up and generally felt unwell. But worst of all was my bloated stomach, which most times looked like I was 7 months pregnant, and the related bowel problems. I had been gradually getting worse for a couple of years.

My doctor sent me for a number of tests, and all showed nothing wrong. But the colonoscopy was my turning point. I had arranged to have the next day off work because I thought I would feel awful, but I felt fantastic. I didn't eat because I enjoyed feeling so "empty" … and I wondered if my symptoms were being caused by something I was eating. I bought your book and followed your instructions. Through the challenges I narrowed my causes down to dairy and salicylates (both of which I normally ate in large amounts). Now I avoid all processed foods, eat failsafe at home, and make informed choices when out. I love wine but have cut down to a couple of glasses per week, have decaf coffee, soy milk etc.

The result has been a new zest for life - new role at work, back to studying part time and lots of activities. I'm back to size 12 clothes (have bought lots of new ones). I turn 50 next week and feel like 40. I'm a bit evangelical when I tell people why I've lost so much weight. Thanks again for providing the tools for me to get my life back. - NSW


Aching joints: My husband has lost weight (he needed to) and the aching joints he had-post Ross River Fever seem to be improving!! - NT


Epileptic seizures: My cousin has been having horrendous seizures for the past 2 years since she gave birth to her son. I have been trying to convince her to go on the elimination diet, as she's already noticed some foods trigger the attacks. She feels like she is going to die when she has one. She finally read the section in your book about Kerry and has found out that one of her biggest seizures which was triggered by popcorn at the pictures, was probably due to tartrazine (102) - the cinema just changed the company they buy the popcorn from. - WA


Irregular pulse and atrial fibrillation: I react to MSG, flavour enhancer 635, metabisulphite preservatives, and yellow colour in cordial. I also have food intolerance to salicylates. From MSG, 635 flavour enhancer and metabisulphite preservatives I get very irregular pulse and atrial fibrillation. I was told by the Royal Prince Alfred unit that milk bottle lollies have metabisulphite preservative in the gelatin used in the product. Hence I avoid anything with gelatin in it - including some brands of yoghurt that are thickened with gelatin. The atrial fibrillation settles down after 12-20 hrs depending on how much offending additive I have eaten (in a restaurant it is difficult to tell) - and my pulse settles down faster if I drink lots of water every hour to flush the toxins out of my system. I've learned to read the labels and carry a reminder in my purse of the numbers to which I react when shopping. I have learned which brands or types of foods are a problem and steer clear of those. - Mary A Biddulph, retired nurse, Brisbane


Fast heart beat (tachycardia): I have suffered for years from episodes of fast heartbeat. It can be very strong and disturbing, and I have ended up in hospital but it goes away after a few hours and they could never find anything wrong. For a while I was getting it every afternoon. Eventually I worked out it happened on the days I ate bread. A friend suggested it might be the preservative in bread. When I eat Brumbys bread I have no problems, but when I ate some preserved bread without thinking at my mother's place, I had another episode. - NT


Headaches, depression, lethargy: For the past 15 years I have been unable to eat wheat, preservatives or MSG - or suffer the consequences if I do. A life spent suffering headaches, depression, lethargy and other sundry aches and pains is no alternative to avoiding the wrong foods and being able to live life to the full! - by email


Paraesthesia (numbness): I am sensitive to salicylates as the result of overuse of Ibuprofen (chemically very similar to aspirin). I developed asthma-like respiratory symptoms when eating certain foods but couldn't figure out which foods were responsible. Then I developed paraesthesia in my left thigh when I took a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug which was prescribed for back pain. Ironically, all of the muscle pains etc. disappeared once I removed everything from my diet that I was sensitive to. - USA [Commonly called 'pins and needles' paraesthesia is a sensation of numbness, prickling and tingling that is normally felt in a limb or extremity.] - USA


Rash, asthma: I have a 4 year old granddaughter who has a number of food intolerances and a 6 year old granddaughter who is just starting to show the cumulative effects of 122 [artificial red colour] with rash around mouth, also some asthma symptoms that she has never had before. I would like to receive your newsletter not only to assist me when I have them in my care, but also because I think we could all do without the "garbage" that is added to much of our processed food. - by email


Sneaky poos, restless legs: After 4 weeks we had seen limited improvement in Brandon's behaviour and no improvement in Tim's symptoms so decided to eliminate wheat as well. The results were quite amazing. After 2 weeks off wheat I realized my restless legs were no longer worrying me and Brandon's sneaky poos had ceased to be a problem." - Qld (full story on website)


Behaviour: "My 3 1/2 year old has been on the elimination diet since March and it has completely changed his life (and ours, thank God)". - NZ

"Since purchasing your book "Fed Up" and reading through it last week I immediately cut back my 5 yo daughter's intake of fruit to approx. one quarter of what she would normally have. By the weekend we already saw huge changes in our girl. Her behaviour was more evened out (not so many HUGE highs and lows) and just more sensible, obliging, less aggressive and defiant - just a much more pleasant girl altogether." - NZ

"My son is 11 years old, diagnosed with ADHD, and has been on Ritalin for about 6-7 years … we have had him on a Failsafe diet for almost two months now. By the end of the first month he showed remarkable improvement, being able to finish homework more quickly and having a more thoughtful disposition. We were also able to cut his Ritalin dose by half, giving him the medication mainly for school, but not at home." - USA

"I just want to say thank you! I have my son back, a son who will listen, a son who will respond, a son who will sit quietly for longer and longer periods of time and a son that is happy enough in himself to want cuddles from us and to tell us he loves us!" - by email

"On advice from our paediatrician (believe it or not) we took our 3.5 yo son off salicylates from the beginning. I typed in this unknown word and got your website and cried and contacted you and you recommended a dietitian … we have the most unbelievable son now as long as we stick close to his 'food plan', we don't call it a diet. …I just can't express our gratitude enough - life is completely different within our household and for our son himself." - Qld

"Our daughter is now on the failsafe diet after the success we saw with her cousin after he started on failsafe foods, we now have a very happy, mostly well behaved and smart little girl." - by email

"I took my 2 boys into Toyworld today which is normally a disaster but they were very well behaved, walking up each aisle with me and looking at the toys rather than touching and grabbing everything in sight!!" [on diet for 10 days] - NT

"We saw A Current Affair 12 months ago, and thought, 'Hey that's our boys!' (The eldest in particular.) We bought your book, the best money we ever spent. We have been on the diet now for 12 months and things have improved dramatically." - by email

"I have a 3½ year old son who was so over the top that I was told of your book. We have been doing diet for the last 3-4 months and he is now a changed boy." - by email

"I contacted a dietitian through the Base hospital and with their help we managed to get through the Elimination Diet. ... We both reacted to amines and our symptoms were the same and severe - aggressive behaviour with a lack of self-control, depression etc. It was like world war three in our house by the end of the week and both of us took at least a week to recover … I remember a quote in "Fed Up" from a lady who said she spent more time in the kitchen but less time disciplining the children and I have found that to be absolutely true … we have come a long way in these last 6 months." - Qld


26 years on … : "26 years ago I had fights with my GP and others when I suspected my daughter's behaviour was related to her food intake (they told me she was just a "naughty" child and I was an over-anxious mother!) … Like one of your readers, I too threw out nearly an entire pantry full of food, but within 4 weeks I had a different child! … My word to your readers - hang in there. The difference to both your and your children's lives will be immense if you can get the diet right." - Rosemary Hanger, Melbourne.

Last month, Rosemary opened a gluten free bakery café with dairy free, corn free and soy free products. There are no artificial colours or preservatives. Silly Yaks Bakery café, 105 High Street Northcote, Ph: 03 9482 3999 http://sillyyaks.com.au/retailer/sacs-gluten-free-have-closed/


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. Help! Where do I start?


A. Thanks to a reader for this answer: "I think the biggest hurdle is that first shopping trip. I picked out several recipes I wanted to try, and carefully reviewed the list of acceptable foods. I made sure I put all the ingredients I needed for the recipes on my shopping list, along with acceptable foods, including goodies like chips, pretzels and ice cream. At the supermarket it did take a long time to find all the new things I was buying, but when I got home, I had a kitchen full of failsafe products and all the ingredients I needed for some failsafe recipes. Having all those things in the house made following the diet a lot easier. I'm such an organizational freak that I have my shopping list on the computer. I print out copies and post them on the refrigerator; then I check off the things I need as they run out. On the back, I print out the additives to avoid, so I always have it with my shopping list when I'm shopping."


Q. We have just done the amine challenge with our children. My three-year-old daughter reacted but my son actually improved. How can this be?


A. It is not unusual for non-responders to improve during challenges. There can be three reasons for this: 1) normal improvement over time. Improvements on this diet will continue for about 9 months if the diet isn't broken eg by challenges 2) Challenge foods such as bananas and chocolate have replaced small "treats" or mistakes with problems such artificial flavours. 3) Avoidance of a staple which has been causing problems, eg a boy who improved dramatically during the dairy challenge because he had been reacting to soymilk.

Cooks' corner


CREAMY EGG AND CELERY NUGGETS Failsafe, gluten-free, dairy-free, vegetarian finger food for parties.

60g Nuttelex margarine

1/3 cup rice flour

1/3 cup water

2/3 cup milk, soymilk or rice milk

1/4 - 1/2 tsp salt

5 hard-boiled eggs, chopped

1 small stick celery, chopped finely

rice crumbs as required

2 eggs, lightly beaten

3 tablespoons milk, extra

failsafe oil for frying

1.Melt butter in microwave, add rice flour and cook for about 20 more seconds. Gradually add water, rice milk and salt, stirring until smooth. Cook in microwave until thickened, stirring every 30 seconds or so. Cool. Stir in eggs and celery.

2.Shape dessertspoonfuls of mixture into flat shapes like chicken nuggets, roll in rice crumbs, dip in combined egg and extra rice milk, then crumbs again.

3.Deep or shallow fry until golden brown. Makes 30. Recipe can be made ahead to end of step two then refrigerated. - Caroline Robertson


SELF SAUCING MICROWAVE GOLDEN SYRUP PUDDING This quick and easy winter dessert will be a hit with the whole family.

90 grams butter

3/4 cup milk, soymilk or ricemilk

1 tsp vanilla essence

1 1/2 cups self raising flour (wheat or wheat-free)

1 cup caster sugar


1 cup boiling water

1/2 cup golden sryup

In a medium size microwave bowl, melt butter thoroughly, then stir in milk and vanilla essence. In a second microwave bowl, mix flour and sugar together. Beat in combined liquids. Using first bowl, mix together 1 cup boiling water and 1/2 cup golden syrup. Pour over top of pudding. Cover and cook in microwave oven (750) for 10 minutes. Eat straight away. - Janet Morgan


The FAILSAFE Discussion Group : On-going support is the key to success with FAILSAFE eating. Access the wealth of experience and information in this free email group and share recipes and stories with people from around the world, particularly from Australia, New Zealand, South-East Asia and and USA. You will receive a daily digest of all emails, or choose individual emails if you want, and can respond to individuals or the group by email or over the web. There is also an on-line chat facility. Subscribe: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. Frontpage: http://groups.yahoo.com/group/failsafe

The FAILSAFE Newsletter: You can have this Newsletter emailed to you for free about every two months, and also see it on this website. Subscribe: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. Frontpage: http://groups.yahoo.com/group/failsafe_newsletter


© Sue Dengate (text) PO Box 85 Parap NT 0804, Australia. This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. Thanks to Margie Turner, Deborah Halliwell, Jenny Saal, Linda Beck, Robin Fisher, Anne Smith, Bernard Trudgett, Alison Cliff and contributors. 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.