Fedup Newsletters




Newsletter of the Food Intolerance Network

August - September 2001


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

This 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.




  • The FAILSAFE Cookbook launched nationally
  • National TV: A Current Affair
  • More talks planned in Canberra, Sydney, Melbourne, Geelong, Brisbane, Melbourne, Tasmania and Alice Springs
  • In brief: laughter, doggy diazinon, springtime schizophrenia
  • Around the groups:
  • Readers' stories: swollen tongue, the way of the dodo
  • Questions: canola oil, failsafe bread
  • Product updates: Ricemilk, puff pastry, Lunchbox pears, dairy-free cream cheese, flavoured soymilks.
  • Cooks Corner: Cabbage and noodle salad, ricemilk




The Failsafe Cookbook


Over the years I have talked to thousands of frazzled, anxious parents worried about their children's health or behaviour problems.

First, they don't know if the diet will work, then they need lots of details about how to do it. Pretty soon, all of that is behind them, and they just want More Recipes!! I wrote Different Kids to answer the first question, Fed Up for the second and here comes the answer to the third. Egged on by readers of Fed Up, I am pleased to announce that The Failsafe Cookbook is now available in all good bookstores - in Australia, that is. And shortly in the USA.

The how-to-do-the-diet section is based on handouts I gave to the families in my bread preservative study and which have been refined many times since. The recipes are a combination of old favourites from Fed Up, new ones discovered by my family and friends, recipes donated by readers or handed around the discussion group, and specials developed by my food technologist husband Howard following specific requests such as "I need a good dairy-free icecream", or (since I had developed gluten intolerance after writing Fed Up), "give me a gluten-free cheesecake base". Most are quick and easy and some are very, very delicious. I hope you like it!

- Sue Dengate



National TV: A Current Affair


Watch out for a segment about the effects of food additives on Channel 9 A Current Affair.

The producer was fascinated to hear that some Australian brands have more harmful additives than their counterparts in Europe and the UK, as I discovered on our recent trip.





There are a number of talks scheduled in the near future - check for details.

At the recent talk in Springwood there were four of us present from the email discussion group and Karen commented: "There is always something more to learn. I now have new inspiration to keep me on track with the diet."

Bernard Trudgett, who runs the food intolerance support group in Wollongong, has also been giving talks. These will be listed on the website in future. An attendee at his Brisbane talk, Jan Wockner, wrote "… people were riveted by the information Bernard was giving - absolutely riveted! It was quite exciting. Bernard talks about physical symptoms that are caused by food - in particular arthritis because he has cured himself by eating the right food, but also a lot of other physical symptoms. He speaks in particular about salicylates, but does include all other nasties. I think here in Brisbane there are a few more people that are going to try going Failsafe."

Sue Dengate will be giving talks as follows:


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..


Sydney NSW Monday 10 September, Shearers Childrens' Bookshop, Gordon.


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


Geelong VIC Wednesday 12 September, 7.30pm, St Paul's parish church, enquiries Rowena, phone 03 5222 6137.


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


ABC Radio Thursday 27 September, Tony Delroy's "Nightlife" program, special on ADHD and children, 10-11pm Eastern Standard Time.


Melbourne VIC Monday-Tuesday 1-2 October, Australian Association of Special Education Conference, http://www.aase.com.au/


Tasmania 8-12 October 2001, Smithton, Burnie, Launceston, St Helen's Hobart, Huonville, details TBA.


Alice Springs 20 November, details TBA, ph 08 8952 8057.





Excessive additive use was discovered during a health investigation of curry houses in England's Midlands following a rash of complaints about asthma and other "allergies". More than half the dishes investigated contained excessive additives, some up to 16 times the recommended amount. Artificial colours tartrazine (yellow, 102), sunset yellow (110) and ponceau (red, 124) were used in dishes such as tandoori and tikka masala, as well as rice. [BBC online news, Tuesday July 27, 1999, http://www.bbc.co.uk/] This story is a perfect illustration of the principle that food additive reactions are related to dose. The higher the dose, the more people will be affected. The reverse holds true. The fewer unnecessary food additives are used, the fewer people will be affected in our society.




We Australians must decide whether we want to be like the U.S. where nearly all foods contain harmful additives, or like Europe where nearly all foods are additive-free. Like supermarkets in England, our supermarkets would adopt a policy of reducing additives if they knew it's what consumers want. For safer foods, this is what you can do:


Contact your favourite media, eg. magazines, newspapers, TV, radio, talkback radio. You can email, write, phone or fax.

* Say thank you for an article or show about food additives .

* Describe how specific food additives affect you, your children or your students.

* Emphasise safe alternatives (see website - additives).

* Comment on a program that you feel should have recognised the effects of foods

* Or complain about the lack of recognition of the effects of food additives.




Tartrazine yellow colour in a daily vitamin tablet turned out to be the cause of a chronic skin rash in a young Canadian woman. Her story is now the basis of an excellent short website: "For about 10 years, I had mild eczema on one of my hands which came and went. I used a cortisone cream from my doctor which helped the itching some, but he told me I could never get rid of the skin problem completely. When the condition started appearing on my face and neck, I started to worry. Every few weeks, I would get red circles and swelling around my eyes and mouth, as well as spots on my neck. These red spots would appear in the same places every time, and take up to 5 days to heal. After a few months, the redness never healed completely, it just varied in severity" … I eventually deduced that it had been the vitamins I was taking, which contain tartrazine … when I stopped [taking the vitamins] the redness went away for the first time in months and my hand healed completely for the first time in YEARS. . I have learned which foods to avoid in general, but every once in awhile something sneaks through and the symptoms come back." [See the full story at http://tartrazine.tripod.com/]:




Italy is the biggest success story in Europe, with the sixth highest Gross National Product in the world, half the dyslexia rate of the USA, and recently placed third (after Oman and Malta) in a WHO comparison of health service efficiency in 191 countries (Australia rated 39th, the USA rated 72nd). Italians also largely boycott the use of food additives, especially artificial colours. Couldn't be related, could it?




Irritability, not hyperactivity, has turned out to be the main behavioural effect of food chemicals. This may account for negative results from studies in the 1970s that measured hyperactivity and even used actometers, activity meters strapped on kids' legs. However, an increasing number of researchers report that mood, especially irritability, is the symptom most affected by diet. Researchers who allowed families to add specific troublesome behaviours (eg whining) to their questionnaire found that these behaviours improved significantly on diet. A German study which used both objective measures (actometers) and subjective measures (questionnaires) found a significant improvement on the questionnaires but not the objective measures [Z. Kinder Jugendpsychiatr Psychother, 1996 24(3):176-183]. Children who are feeling irritable will act normally when life is pleasant but overreact to unpleasant events. A reader comments: "The section in your book about "life-is-good" just floored me [Fed Up, page 60]. That is us! I don't have too many problems with my son at home as he is an only child and (mostly) gets what he wants. The behaviour problems have always been where he is told by other people what to do eg. school, creche (kicked out at age 3), swimming lessons and after school activities (always in trouble)."




The use of a commercial flea preparation led to two years of ill-health in a previously healthy male. Before you reach for chemical pest control, read the following story and remember that children are more susceptible to the effects of chemicals than adults.

"The tenant sprayed a 1.0% diazinon preparation, avoiding skin contact, holding his breath until he went into the living room intermittently to breathe, and washing thoroughly after using the product… He then slept in this room for about 10 consecutive nights - … When the symptoms started, he thought that he had influenza. However, the symptoms progressed to lacrimation, salivation, physical weakness, impaired speech, mental slowness, confusion, slurred speech, difficulty in forming a sentence (and stating it), headaches, poor memory, episodes of depression, apathy, anger, irritability, nervousness, impaired reading ability, comprehension, and retention of what had been read (he is a proofreader for a publishing house), mental slowness, poor cognitive and problem-solving ability, and impaired vision." Two years later he was recovering but still not at pre-exposed level….

"There are now a number of detailed epidemiological studies which demonstrate the existence of persistent and serious complaints lasting from 6 months to several years following exposure to the organophosphate pesticides and these symptoms could possibly last forever." [From a paper by Dr Hugh Dunstan: www.newcastle.edu.au/department/bi/birjt/cpruis/]


Some non-chemical alternatives for pest-control: habitat modification, eg seal crevices, increase sanitation; physical controls like sticky traps, fly swats; less toxic controls like gels and baits. More info: The Toxic Playground , http://www.joimmig.com/images/toxic.pdf




A rare disorder identified in the 1970s is increasingly responsible for destroying families across America, Britain, Australia, Canada and New Zealand. Called Munchausen's syndrome by proxy (MSP), the disorder causes parents, usually mothers, to deliberately make their children sick to draw attention to themselves. The trouble is, many mistakes are made. Six years ago in Vancouver, Lisa Neave was accused of MSP when authorities wrongly concluded that a throat-clearing technique, which a specialist had taught Lisa to use on her two-year-old adopted daughter Karliana, was the cause of her breathing problems, not a remedy. Karliana and Lisa's other two children were put into care and Lisa was charged with criminal assault. Incredibly, doctors and social workers jumped to a diagnosis of MSP without contacting the pediatrician who had instructed Ms. Neave. Although ultimately cleared of all wrongdoing, Lisa and her husband Terry eventually divorced because of the stress.

Families most at risk of mistaken diagnosis are those whose children have chronic illness or disorders, including autism and multiple chemical sensitivity. Julie Patrick's little boy, Philip, was born with several serious birth defects which led to a variety of infections. At a loss to explain some of the problems, authorities at a Tennessee hospital concluded Mrs. Patrick must have been responsible, and seized Philip. Lacking proper care, he died in October 1996, after a month in foster care. MSP was later ruled out. Today, Mrs. Patrick is the head of Mothers Against MSP Allegations (MAMA), which aims to educate the general public about the dangers of rushing to judgment about MSP and to support those who have been wrongly accused. "It's not really an officially recognized diagnosis," she points out. "It's a witch hunt."

Lisa Neave and her former husband are now suing two government ministers and five social workers. "In 13 years of practising law, I have never seen such a miscarriage of justice as that endured by Lisa," lawyer Brooks says. Family activist Kari Simpson, who was instrumental in bringing the Neave case to public attention, hopes the lawsuit will act as a deterrent. "We see, daily, families destroyed, traumatized, harmed by the conduct of these people, without recourse," she says. "A lawsuit like this will have them thinking twice." [Ref: The Report Newsmagazine, Vancouver 30/7/01].


MSP is coming to Australia. An American expert in identification of MSP is currently running workshops in Australia and NZ. For more information, visit the MAMA website http://www.msbp.com/. For problems, contact Australian family activist, Helen Hayward-Brown: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., ph: 02 4758 7101, fx: 02 4758 6623.



In brief


LAUGHTER: Laughter therapy claims to help everything from heart disease to cancer. Does it change food intolerance? You can have fun finding out. The funniest movie in years, "Galaxy Quest" will make you laugh, starring Tim Allen, Sigourney Weaver and Alan Rickman, rated PG.


DOGGY DIAZINON: family pets may track pesticide residues into your home. A family of four people and their dog were studied for three weeks after their garden was treated with diazinon, an organophosphate insecticide commonly used on lawns. US Environmental Protection Agency researchers found diazinon levels were 50 times higher inside the house than background levels. How did it get there? The dog was the prime suspect, with residues on its paws up to 250 times higher than background. [New Scientist, 10/2/01, p16, see also delayed behavioural effects, above].


SPRINGTIME SCHIZOPHRENIA: the psychosis of schizophrenia usually begins in late teenage, but researchers suspect that people are born with this mysterious condition. Even as toddlers, people with schizophrenia tend to be slow to talk and clumsier than usual, and they have enlarged ventricles in their brains. Risk factors include heredity, being born in a city and being born in spring. An Australian psychiatrist suggests that city and spring birth links are based on a Vitamin D deficiency through a lack of UV light. Pregnant rats deprived of both UV light and Vitamin D gave birth to rat pups with enlarged ventricles. [New Scientist, 21/7/01, p38]



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.


 Getting in touch


* Share house: a professional man in Darwin would like one or two failsafers to share his house, possibly with reduced rent for doing the cooking.

* Phone contacts: if you would like to chat by phone with others in your area (especially Cairns, Perth, Newcastle) about your experiences with the elimination diet, please let me know: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., use "getting in touch" as the subject line.


 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.


Swollen tongue: "I have had a swollen tongue on many occasions due to Chinese food and most snack foods, which now I steer clear of. Yesterday I had a low fat continental tomato soup and had a swollen tongue a few hours after eating it. I read the packet only to see that it contained 635. Looking up 635, I fluked on your website. I also have experienced palpitations after McDonalds and sometimes after eating at restaurants but my tongue is the most worrying. I've seen oral surgeons and specialist dentists, but they all think it's quite normal. I would like to know if you have heard of this problem before . [Yes, also as a reaction to MSG].


The way of the dodo: "Our son Robert (5) is a happy and affectionate young boy but he can get very excitable and emotional when things don't go "just right". His teacher has commented on a general lack of concentration in the classroom and some "over the top" antics out in the yard. Add to this that he has suffered from terrible bouts of eczema since he was six months old and we would try anything to ease his discomfort. It certainly has not been for the lack of trying different remedies. We have been through the skin-prick tests; naturopaths who have advised us to eliminate tomato-based products only and prescribed $400 worth of herbal medicines; Chinese herbalists (even more expensive); ancient Chinese massage techniques; the usual cortisone creams; every other cream on the market marked for "eczema relief"; bath oils and aromatherapy; soy milk; no milk and so on, including some diets that have been recommended by some very highly-paid professionals.

"Your book is the first one that has really hit a nerve with me and I can see Robert in many of the descriptions of the children in those pages. I KNOW that Robert has a reaction to the colours and preservatives in his foods but this is the first time I have seen the explanation put so logically and sensibly. So we are going to give failsafe a go. Robert seems every bit as keen as us in the hope that it will possibly help ease his eczema - we don't want to get his hopes too high but it does give him something to aim for. In fact, he can even pronounce "salicylates" better than I can now!

"So far we have spent the last two nights cleaning out the cupboards of all the foods containing the dreaded additives and preservatives. I have taken the sultanas, apples and bananas to work to share around. Fish fingers and chicken nuggets have gone the way of the dodo bird and even the breadcrumbs have been banished because of the preservative. It has come as a shock to discover the cupboard is now almost bare!"


MORE 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 surprised that you list canola oil as being OK. I had heard that canola oil could be extremely toxic. We have switched to using olive oil because I think it is healthier and would appreciate your comments.


A. Olive oil is healthy unless you react to salicylates or amines (it is very high in both of these natural chemicals). Canola, safflower, sunflower and soy oils are the alternative recommended by Royal Prince Alfred Hospital. Whenever there are very strong negative reports about a particular food, be suspicious. A recent palm oil scare originated from a competitor. I asked my resident food technologist and plant scientist what he thought of canola, and here is his reply:

The oil from varieties of Brassica napus has been used mainly for a lighting oil in Europe and parts of Asia for thousands of years, under the name rapeseed oil. The traditional variety had high levels of erucic acid and eicosenoic acid, which affected poultry if they were fed the press-cake (or rape-cake) remaining after the oil was extracted. So in the early 1960s Canadian plant breeders, using traditional cross-breeding techniques, produced varieties with less than 2% erucic acid. To distinguish these new varieties and to ensure a market for the presscake, the name "canola" (Canadian oil) was adopted. Australia followed suit in the 1980s. These canola varieties are also low in the sharp-flavoured glucosinolates that give another Brassica species, mustard, its characteristic taste. Canola oil contains the essential poly-unsaturated fatty acids (EFAs) linolenic (omega 3) acid and linoleic (omega-6) acid, which cannot be manufactured by the human body. - Dr Howard Dengate


Q. I live in Sydney. Where can I buy preservative-free bread?


A. You need to avoid propionates (280-283), whey powder (eg in Noble Rise) which is a natural form of propionate (the dose will not be as strong but can build up if you eat enough), vinegar (eg in Helgas) and non-failsafe ingredients such as honey, dried fruit, and seeds like sesame or linseed (poppyseeds are failsafe). I prefer Brumbys' hot bread shops because all the plain breads are failsafe and there is no calcium propionate on the premises. There are Brumbys stores in Randwick, Leichardt and Marrickville (check the website for locations, www.brumbys.com.au). Franklins Big Fresh make a preservative-free bread (the one with the rooster on it). Woolworths instore bakeries make a preservative-free bread but there have been some instances of mislabelling. Coles Plane-tree [NO LONGER MANUFACTURED] is preservative-free if you want wholemeal bread. Country Life breads are preservative-free and there are others, eg Pritikin, Mountain breads and Demeter. Check labels. Bakers Delight bread is preservative-free but contains sodium metabisulphite (223) as a flour treatment agent. Some people can manage it especially in small doses but I have received complaints regarding both behaviour and asthma. Laucke's breadmaker premix is preservative-free; for others, read labels.


 Product updates


* Ricemilk: There are now no failsafe ricemilks because all commercial ricemilks contain cold-pressed oil (which contain salicylates), whether listed on the label or not. There have been several stories of dramatic improvements when families change to home-made ricemilk (see recipe below).


* Puff Pastry: Thanks to Pampas pastry who now use a failsafe antioxidant (306) to preserve the canola oil ingredient in this product, Puff Pastry with canola oil is now failsafe.


* Lunchbox pears: Franklins supermarkets sell homebrand lunchbox tins of pears in light syrup, rather than the non-failsafe pears in natural juice in other supermarkets.


* Dairy free cream cheese: Kingland soy cream cheese is NO LONGER failsafe as it contains 200-203 sorbates.


* Flavoured soymilks: Not all soymilks are equal. There have been numerous reports of reactions to flavoured soymilks, even to Soyaccino, which is considered fairly safe. If in doubt, stick to plain soymilk and flavour it yourself - and avoid cold-pressed oils (see above).


 Cooks' corner




100-150g uncooked Asian wheat (or rice) noodles*

canola oil for frying

½ small savoy cabbage, finely shredded

3 spring onions, finely chopped

¼ cup brown sugar

1½ tsp sea salt

¼ cup water

2 tsp canola oil

*if crispy fried colour-free noodles are available, use those instead

Bring a large pot of water to the boil, add noodles and simmer for a few minutes until soft. Drain, rinse with cold water and allow to cool. This step can be done in advance, so that the noodles are dry enough to deep fry.

Heat the canola oil and fry noodles in batches until golden. It is OK if they stick together. Drain on paper towel. Combine cabbage and spring onions in a large bowl. In a small bowl, dissolve brown sugar and sea salt in the water, add canola oil. Just prior to serving, break up the crisp fried noodles, and add to bowl with cabbage. Pour dressing over, toss together and serve immediately. Serves 4-6. Any extra crispy noodles not used in the salad may be sprinkled with salt and used as a lunch box treat. Store in an air tight container. Great as a side dish to grilled lamb cutlets, mashed potato and steamed beans.

- Jenni Steinmetz




1/2 cup hot well-cooked rice (or more to taste)

2 cups hot water

1/2 tbsp failsafe oil

2 tsp sugar (or more to taste)

1 Caltrate tablet 600 mg (optional)

Blend all together until smooth. Chill. Dilute to taste.

- Vanessa Peterson



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 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 Deborah Halliwell, Jenny Saal, Caroline Robertson, Brenda Hunting, Erica Waite, Rex Warren (ACTA), members of the Discussion Group and readers for their contributions. Further reading: The Failsafe Cookbook, Fed Up and Different Kids by Sue Dengate Random House 2001, 1998 & 1994, the Simplified Elimination Diet from dietitians, and Friendly Food, by Swain and others, Murdoch Books, 1991.