Fedup Newsletters


Newsletter of the Food Intolerance Network

December - January 2001/2002

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.

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.


* Please help to ban food colours

* Research: eye muscle disorders and IQ

* In brief: Salicylates in GM wheat and rice; "Dr Dust"

* Cooks Corner: failsafe equivalent of sticky date pudding, American casserole, Bombe Alaska

Hi everyone

This is a challenging time of year for us failsafers. Christmas treats lead to reactions and we remember why we started our diet. Like most Darwin residents, for us Christmas with the relatives means a 5-week, 10,000 km plus drive through 3 states. It will be a combination of camping and staying with friends and relatives. One reader wrote "sticking to failsafe is easy when camping, friends' houses and restaurants are much more of a challenge". There will be mistakes, and we can look forward to getting back to home food in the New Year. I wish you all a very happy and failsafe Christmas.

- cheers, Sue Dengate (This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.)


If you want more failsafe foods in supermarkets, you can make it happen. This is our chance to get rid of artificial food colours. The deadline for a petition to ban the worst artificial colour (see failsafe #28) has been extended.

Here is what artificial colour in a chocolate-coated biscuit did to a failsafe 5 year old child a few weeks ago: "calling out, disturbing others, note sent home from school, rudeness to teachers, foul language, playing on equipment after the bell had gone, refusing to go to class and hurting other children. After school he refused to line up in bus lines and ran out onto the middle of the road in front of the school. The next day he was back to doing well again."

If you want to know what colours do to you or your child, while failsafe try 10 drops of yellow, red or green food colouring in a glass of water or magic cordial 3 times a day for 3 days. Stop when you see a reaction. Artificial colours are not necessary in chocolate biscuits or any other food. If you aren't affected directly, then you are by the actions of others in our society

Please help to ban these additives. The deadline for the petition to ban yellow food colour (tartrazine 102, Yellow #5) has been extended indefinitely. Only 700 entries have been received and the FDA wants several thousand. Please send an email. Here's what to say:

Send your email to: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Subject: Docket #01P-0345, Delist Yellow #5

Message: I vote to ban Yellow #5.

Give your name, address and phone number.

Optional: You can give a reason if you want. e.g. artificial colours are unnecessary, artificial colours affect me/my children/grandchildren/students in my class/the kid next door. Or tell a story of a reaction like the one above. This additive has been shown to cause irritability, restlessness, inattention and sleep disturbance such as difficulty falling asleep and frequent night waking (Rowe and Rowe study in Melbourne, Journal of Pediatrics, 1994). It is also implicated in a wide range of problems like irritable bowel, migraines, skin rashes, asthma, epilepsy, arthritis, restless legs etc.

If my work has helped you, please do this for me. Children can write too. Everyone in my household has sent a message. Ask supportive friends, teachers and relatives who have seen what food does to you or your child. If you have already sent an email, many thanks!



Eye muscle disorders which contribute to reading difficulties can be improved by dietary management, according to a much overlooked research paper. Nystagmus involves rapid involuntary movements of the eyes that may be from side to side, or up and down, or rotatory. I once described a child as "so hyperactive he couldn't even keep his eyes still". A milder form of nystagmus can involve jerking eye movements while trying to concentrate on reading. Prediet, my daughter was assessed with nystagmus, although I hadn't noticed anything.

Strabismus is commonly known as squint, or 'lazy eye'. It involves any abnormal alignment of the two eyes. Oculomuscular disturbances are much more common in ADD children than non-ADD children.

An example of severe nystagmus is described in the paper. The patient was diagnosed at the age of 8 months because of "drifting eyes". Medication for the condition was ineffective. At six the child's near vision was assessed at 20/100 and books of large type were ordered for him at school. Although he was not considered hyperactive, intermittent tantrums were a problem. At 10 he was started on the elimination diet. Six months later his near vision had improved to 20/25 which could be corrected with glasses. After three days on challenges the eye movements returned and his vision dropped to 20/80. After three weeks on diet it was back to normal again.

Further reading: Feingold BF. Dietary management of nystagmus. J Neural Transmission,1979; 45: 107-115

Epilepsy, Tourette's, autism, Down's behaviour and learning disabilities

As well as eye muscle disturbances, other conditions such as petit mal and grand mal epilepsy, Tourette syndrome, autism, the behavioural component of Down syndrome and retardation can result from the effect of even a single food chemical, according to Dr Feingold in the above paper - and observed by this network.

Dr Feingold had a much broader view of the condition then known as Minimal Brain Dysfunction than our current definition of ADHD. Back in 1978, he suggested that approximately 500 target deficits are involved, occurring in three categories: behaviour, muscular incoordination, and disturbances of perception and cognition. Not every deficit is observed in any individual child, rather each child has his or her own mosaic of deficits. Some children may have only a single deficit such as impaired visual perception. The child may not be hyperactive yet be included within the syndrome. The deficits observed in any child may vary from day to day and even from hour to hour. Dietary management will work for every deficit in the syndrome - including learning disabilities - but may require a longer period of observation, from 2 weeks to several years. However, with patience, the deficits will improve.

In Different Kids I wrote about how my daughter's IQ had gone up 26 points after we started the diet. This month a reader reported: "we have just had our daughter's IQ tested and the non-verbal learning disability has totally disappeared. She now has an overall IQ of 129 with a 4 point difference between verbal to non-verbal instead of a 40 point difference."


Sausages in NW Sydney

I have found a butcher in North Rocks (north west Sydney) who will make sausages for my daughter - natural skins, plain lamb mince filling, frozen for me in packs of four sausages - I usually get 2kg at a time. It is Beef Bullion at Westfield North Rocks - Terry . Most butchers I approached said 'impossible' when I asked for plain mince in a sausage casing, but he just said 'sure, thick or thin?'. He also offered to put whatever spices I supplied into the sausage, but as I am catering for a 3-year-old, I keep it plain. He would not know them as 'failsafe', but as 'Emma Bradbury's Special Plain Lamb Sausages'!

Product updates

Vitasoy calciplus is no longer failsafe due to the addition of cold-pressed oil. So far, Sanitarium So Good regular is still failsafe. Fresh So Good is not failsafe because of linseed oil.

Good news for Tasmanians. Banjo's plain white bread is failsafe. It seems to be the same as Brumbys on the mainland. Beware of Woolworths bread unless it is baked instore. Woolworths in Burnie was found to be selling preserved bread without mentioning preservatives on the label.

If you are using the old RPA booklets, check product updates on the website for some new inclusions.

Diet not working as well as you'd hoped?

One tiny mistake can make a huge difference. For fine-tuning, see the list on the website Checklist of common mistakes. With new guidelines for extra sensitive salicylate responders, thanks to Robin from the email discussion group.

Readers tell us this list is very useful.

In brief

Salicylates in GM wheat and rice

Salicylates are natural pesticides. Dutch researchers at Leiden University are deliberately trying to produce genetically modified crops like wheat and rice with better pest resistance through high salicylates. Team leader Dr Huub Lindhorst says "The amounts of salicylic acid you need in plants to have these effects are so low in comparison to what humans use [when taking aspirin] that there wouldn't be any problems." New Scientist, 1/9/01 p36. You can comment by writing to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

"Dr Dust"

Thorough vacuuming can reduce the toxicity of your home. Our exposure to most toxic pollutants is 10-50 times higher indoors than outdoors. Carpets are the worst offender and can contain well over the safe limit of lead; cadmium, mercury, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, pesticides and PCBs. Children are most at risk. Three years olds inhale 23 times as much air as their parents. Environmental engineer John (Dr Dust) Roberts from Seattle recommends hard floors. Otherwise, every week for four weeks when vacuuming make 25 passes over the area of carpet within a metro of the main entrance doors, 16 over areas that receive a lot of foot traffic and eight over the rest of the carpet. After that use half that number of passes once a week. Use a vacuum cleaner with a power head or a dirt-finder. Leave your shoes outside or use high quality doormats. Using the methods recommended above, Roberts' daughter reduced the lead levels in her apartment from 7800 meg/metro to 160 in six months and 32 in 14 months (safe level is estimated at 434 although others say there is no safe level for lead) New Scientist, 5/5/01, p36.

Readers' comments

Rheumatoid arthritis

"After a few weeks on failsafe I seem to be making some progress … I had beaten chronic fatigue and MCS but rheumatoid arthritis is a tough nut to crack and I had almost given up hope of further improvement. It turns out that I tolerate moderate salicylates but amines are a real problem. Thanks to you …"

In the classroom

Having studied your book Fed Up, and very little else, for the last week, we are gritting our teeth and getting ready to begin the diet on Monday. I am greatly concerned by the demise of concentration levels, self-control, acceptable behaviour and motivation in primary students even during my own career (15 years) and strongly believe the menu offered by school tuckshops often works against the very educational aims of the schools they are supposedly supporting. I see students come into class for the afternoon session hyped-up, lacking energy, 'agro', argumentative, easily frustrated and unable to concentrate. Many students are like this all day. - teacher, Qld

Frequent urination

I have noticed now that I can't have much tonic water or 7 UP - even a single glass. The symptom I get is very noticeable diuretic effect. I would go to the toilet (urinate) as much as 5 times per night (small quantities) instead of normally once, occasionally never. I also get restless legs (drives my partner insane!!) This happens when I keep all other diet the same. Now that I know that I can tolerate a small dose of amines I find very dilute lime and soda much better for me. - long-term failsafe father NSW

Bread preservative-induced ADHD

Our daughter, Chelsea, now aged 7, was diagnosed with ADHD at the age of 5. I was not convinced that the process of this diagnosis was exactly scientific. I read "Different Kids" and embarked on the elimination diet with the help of a dietician. We had tremendous results. Chelsea's teachers were openly amazed at the change in her behaviour. With their support we started the challenges - no noticeable reaction to salicylates or amines, but a very strong reaction to the bread preservative (282) which gradually built up over a 5 day period. Once the challenge was stopped, it took 2 weeks for withdrawal. Chelsea's behaviour was extremely aggressive and impulsive and withdrawal resulted in lethargy and stomach aches. We have not been able to do any further challenges until the holidays as Chelsea was jeopardising the very fragile friendships she had begun to make. Our heartfelt thanks to you for helping us rediscover the lovely little girl we knew as a baby without the need for medication. - by email

Low energy, headaches

Avoiding the bread preservatives (280s) seems to be helping me with new energy levels and lack of headaches. - reader, NSW

Breastfed baby

My sister is finding life much easier with her baby thanks to modifying her diet. She removed very high salicylates and amines and it seemed to have an immediate affect on his behaviour. They now have much more settled nights. She found that every time she ate even a small amount of tomato, wine, chocolate etc, that they had a difficult night and that it just wasn't worth it! Thank you for your information and support. It was also very helpful for me as a breastfeeding counsellor to be involved with a particular case and to see that diet can have an effect. I feel more able to suggest to mothers that this might be something to look into if their baby continues to be unsettled. - reader, Qld

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

Your questions:

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

Q. What is it about Weetbix that affects children?

A. I wish I knew. I used to think it was salicylates in the raw sugar, but my daughter reacts even worse to VitaBrits which are sugar free. RPA suggested it could be the wholegrain wheat. A few people report that LiteBix are better.

Q. When our son went to university, he started eating several packets of Burger Rings a day and drinking lots of Diet Coke. He developed a facial tic and failed all subjects. We've never had those kinds of foods at home. Could they have anything to do with his problems?

A. Burger Rings contain the following unsafe additives: colours (102,110,155), antioxidant (319) and MSG (621). Diet Coke contains preservative (211) and artificial sweetener (951). All of the additives above have been associated with adverse reactions by RPA except 951 which has not been tested but is not recommended. Common reactions to food additives include restlessness and inattention which can obviously result in student failure. Tics are less common reactions to food chemicals.

Q. I've just spent more than $200 on a psychiatrist. I told him my son had gone ballistic after eating Chinese takeaway (we ate the meal one day and the leftovers the next day). He told me there was no evidence that food affects children's behaviour, and mentioned a study at the Great Ormond Street Children's Hospital. Have I wasted my money?

A. Your psychiatrist was referring a study which tested only food colouring and found that parents could not distinguish the effects of colours from placebo. Excluding food additives alone is not helpful for the majority of ADHD children, so challenges must be carried out during a comprehensive elimination diet. There are many highly successful studies, including two at Great Ormond Street (Egger and others, 1985, Carter and others 1993) which avoided more foods. I suggest you send your psychiatrist a copy of the press release about diet and children's behaviour from the Centre for Science in the Public Interest www.cspinet.org

Around the groups:

Lunchbox suggestion

"My daughter is learning English in School. I put a couple of quotes in her lunchbox. The English teacher has her read them and they try to find out what the meaning is. They liked best "Today is the first day of the rest of your life". I also make figures out of failsafe veggies and use philly cheese for hair. It's amazing how the kids react to them. The best thing is that the lunchboxes come home empty every day. Before we started on the diet, they only ate half and brought the rest home." - Sabine from Germany (discussion group)

Group news

Our phone contacts and support groups all operate in different ways. They range from people who have just got through their elimination and challenges to experts who have been doing it for years. Most people can recommend the name of a supportive dietitian or provide support themselves. They can usually tell you where to buy failsafe sausages and bread.

The Darwin Failsafe Playgroup now meets weekly at the Toy Library, phone Denny 8927 7138. The Darwin network is holding a failsafe BBQ/picnic at Parap Pool, Sat 12th Jan, 1-6pm, phone Deb 08 8932 1520

Support contacts

There are now over 40 support contacts in Australia, New Zealand and overseas - see website.

Cooks' corner


"Better than sticky date pudding". Make Andra's "honey" roll (FS cookbook p134) as the sandwich option. Serve with icecream. - Erica's husband

American Casserole

An easy dish to take to a Christmas get-together

2 cups spiral pasta

½ small leek

500 g mince

Cook pasta and place in bottom of casserole dish. Cook leek and mince and spread on top of noodles. Bake at 180°C for 45 minutes. - Margie Turner

Bombe Alaska

An entertaining failsafe substitute for hot puddings, suitable for an Australian Christmas.

1 packet of broken biscuits (eg Nice, or homemade)

4 tbsp of magic cordial drink which has been diluted to taste

5 egg whites

155 g caster sugar

¼ tsp salt

1 litre block of failsafe vanilla icecream

pure icing sugar for dusting

Cover the base of an ovenproof serving dish with broken biscuits or stale cake. Drizzle with magic cordial. Beat egg whites with sugar and salt until stiff. Arrange icecream on broken biscuits. These are to insulate the icecream from the heat. Using a large knife, quickly spread meringue mixture all over the icecream. Dust with pure icing sugar. Bake for 3-4 minutes, no longer, in a very hot oven (250°C) and serve immediately. This dish can be prepared a few hours in advance and stored in the freezer. Dust with icing sugar immediately before baking.

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 Jan Wockner, Deb Halliwell, Erica Waite, Denny, Jane, and everyone who contributes to the discussion group and by email.. Further reading: The Simplified Elimination Diet from dietitians, Fed Up and the Failsafe Cookbook by Sue Dengate Random House, and Friendly Food, by Swain and others, Murdoch Books.