Fedup Newsletters


Newsletter of the Food Intolerance Network

February - April 2004

FAILSAFE supports people 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.


Big win for additive free team

The McDonald's diet

44-day 'starvation stunt'

Student tests junk food

Research 6-day fast for autistic boy, Most urticaria is food-related, say researchers, Food additives and runny nose, Gluten and mental symptoms, Mercury-based preservatives in vaccines

In brief:report adverse drug reactions, antidepressant suicide-related warnings, aspirin induced asthma, autism reaching 'epidemic levels'.

Lobbying:Preservative complaint rewarded

Readers' stories: [312] - [327]

Product updates: ***WARNINGS*** Amines in meat from Coles and Woolworths, McCains Healthy Choice, Pampas butter puff Pastry, Bakers Delight finger buns, Sunicrust Mighty Soft bread, BiLo bread caution, Regarding mercury in fish, Honey blends. ***GOOD NEWS ***Sunfield safflower oil in New Zealand, Cheap canned pears, tinned halves or quarters in syrup, Fantastic Long Life Noodles, Sunbeam home Fairy Floss (cotton candy) makers, Fluff is a failsafe marshmallow spread.

Questions:Easter eggs, BeCALM'd, Food packaging legislation, preservative in 7UP lemonade, vitamin supplement and heart beating fast.

Cooks Corner: Fluff marshmallow spread, Chicken noodle snack, Moroccan Chicken, Butterscotch Pudding

Hi everyone

Apologies for the lateness of this newsletter. After living in Darwin for 15 years, we have just moved 5000 kms to Coffs Harbour in NSW, and it was more disruptive than I ever imagined. In the process I managed to lose some emails, so please write again if you haven't been answered.

Welcome to the many new subscribers who have joined us since the last newsletter, and thank you to those who have responded so enthusiastically to my new book 'Fed Up with ADHD'.

In this newsletter there are more 'bad news' product reports than at any time since the start of the Food Intolerance Network, especially regarding amines in supermarket meat, the spread of antioxidants BHA(320) and TBHQ(319), propionates (282) in bread and benzoates (211) in 7UP. The new way of distributing supermarket meat in particular might account for many families who are scratching their heads about why the diet isn't working.

For good news amid the gloom, see increasingly positive medical research and some outstanding unofficial research looking at the effects of foods, and I love the heartwarming story about an additive-free sports team. See the Q&As for Easter suggestions, and reports of the Sunbeam home fairy floss maker in the Product Updates.

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

Big win for additive free team

A team of tiny T-ball players demonstrated the benefits of additive-free eating last month when they won 9 matches in 3 days to become undefeated under-10 champions in the ACT.

'I knew they would have to maintain focus and stamina, so I requested a junk food ban 2-3 weeks before the competition', jubilant coach Sheryl Sibley explained after the win.

While other competitors lined up during the three-day carnival for treats such as coloured shaved ice, Sheryl's team proudly asked for their shaved ice without topping.

'These were all normal kids who had never been diagnosed with anything, yet the parents could see a difference' said Sheryl. 'It was a long, tough competition, but everyone was happy. There were no tears or complaints afterwards as often happens. The girls showed exceptionally sustained skill, focus and teamwork, beyond what you would expect for their age'.

After the win, parents with other children in the competition asked 'why can't they do this for the older teams as well?'

For details of Sheryl's additive-free sports plan, see the Eating to Win low additive factsheet on the website.

The McDonald's diet

When McDonald's declared on television that their food was nutritious, New York filmmaker Morgan Spurlock decided to test their claim. Spurlock, aged 33, ate and drank only at McDonald's for 30 days. The result was a documentary called Super Size Me: a Film of Epic Portions which won Spurlock the Best Director (documentary) Award at the 2004 Sundance Film Festival.

During the course of the film, Spurlock gained 12 kg (25 pounds) and developed headaches, depression and high cholesterol.

'He was an extremely healthy person who got very sick eating this McDonald's diet', said SoHo based general practitioner Dr Daryl Isaacs. 'The liver test was the most shocking thing - it became very, very abnormal'. Spurlock has since returned to normal health. 'The treatment was to just stop doing what he was doing,' Dr Isaacs said.

Spurlock said he felt terrible by the end of the month. 'It really affects you in so many ways that I think a lot of people don't realise, very subtle little things. Over the course of the film you see my transformation and it's not pleasant.'

Every day McDonald's feeds 46 million people worldwide. The company has declined to comment on the film, which will be distributed later this year. www.msnbc.msn.com

44-day 'starvation stunt'

While Morgan Spurlock was filmed stuffing himself at McDonald's in the USA, 30 year old American illusionist David Blaine was filmed starving himself in London. Blaine spent 44 solitary days in a perspex box above the Thames consuming nothing but water. By the end of the six week fast, despite losing 24 kgs (56 pounds) and suffering from severe heart palpitations, blurred vision and breathing difficulties, Blaine said, 'This has been one of the most important experiences in my life'. Hospital doctors later diagnosed phosphate deficiency and low blood pressure but said he was expected to make a full recovery. http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/entertainment/3203472.stm

Student tests junk food

Thirteen-year-old Justin Fletcher from Christchurch, NZ, carried out his own test of junk food for a school science project.

For two days, Justin ate only junk food including Coco Pops, Coke, cake, meat pies and lollies then put himself through a series or reading, typing and mathematics tests. Justin repeated the exercises after two days of eating chicken, rice, bread and lettuce.

The results showed that he read 43 per cent slower, typed at nearly half his usual speed and solved maths problems up to 35 per cent slower.

'It was only once I had finished the tests and converted the results to percentages that I realised how big the difference was,' said Justin.

Justin's family also noticed behavioural changes, like mood-swings, after he binged on junk food. His mother Philippa, a community health promoter, was shocked. 'It was such a short period of time, I didn't think it would have much impact, she said. www.stuff.co.nz


6-day fast for autistic boy

An 8-year-old autistic boy with hyperactivity, uncontrolled laughter and disruptive behaviours such as screaming, biting, scratching and object throwing showed behavioural improvement during a 6 day fast with only spring water allowed. Throughout the tests, the boy was kept in a room under observation and allowed out only for toilet and bathroom breaks. Reintroduction of individual foods showed that foods including wheat, dairy products, tomatoes, mushrooms and corn were instrumental in producing behavioral disorders with this child. O'Banion D and others, Disruptive behavior: a dietary approach. J Autism Child Schizophr. 1978;8(3):325-37.

Most urticaria is food-related, say researchers

German researchers using a diet 'largely avoiding preservatives, dyes and natural pseudoallergens' found nearly three quarters of patients with urticaria experienced remission of more than 6 months, compared to one quarter with spontaneous remissions. Nearly all patients who improved on diet reacted to tomatoes. Henz BM, Zuberbier T. Exp Dermatol. Most chronic urticaria is food-dependent, and not idiopathic. 1998;7(4):139-42.

Food additives and runny nose

Twenty non-allergic subjects with chronic rhinitis reacted to sodium benzoate (E211) with symptoms including runny or blocked nose, sneezing and itchy nose. There were similar but fewer reactions to tartrazine (102), erythrosine (127), para-hydroxybenzoate (214-219), sodium metabisulphite (223) and monosodium glutamate (621). Pacor ML and others. Monosodium benzoate hypersensitivity in subjects with persistent rhinitis. Allergy. 2004;59(2):192-7.

Gluten and mental symptoms

A family history of coeliac disease is a risk factor for schizophrenia, according to authors of a study published last month. Meanwhile in France, a 41 year old woman with Down Syndrome who lived with her parents and had a normal social life suddenly experienced some hallucinations, depression, anorexia and autistic behaviour. Despite a negative bowel biopsy (although positive antigliadin antibody tests), a gluten-free diet led to 'a spectacular and lasting improvement of both psychotic and depressive symptoms'. Eaton W and others, Coeliac disease and schizophrenia, British Medical Journal 2004;328(7437):438-9, free full text available at bmj.com; Serratrice J and others, Presse Med, 2002;31(33):1551-3.

Mercury-based preservatives in vaccines

A Centre for Disease Control study led by a vaccine manufacturers employee revealed a significant association between mercury-preserved vaccines administered to infants and later developmental abnormalities such as speech and language delays, tics and ADHD-type symptoms. This association was not included in the final report, say critics. 'I do not want [my] grandson to get a thimerosal-containing vaccine until we know better what is going on,' said Richard Johnston, a pediatrics professor at the University of Colorado, according to the transcript of a meeting in July 2000. Study authors and advisers discussed preliminary findings that indicated the risk of autism was 2 1/2 times greater among children who received the highest levels of thimerosal compared with those who received none. http://www.safeminds.org

Diet not working as well as you'd hoped?

One tiny mistake can make a huge difference. For fine-tuning, see the recently updated list on the website Checklist of common mistakes. Readers tell us this list is very useful.

In brief

* Report your adverse drug reactions to the new Australian AME (Adverse Medicines Event) hotline, 1300 134 237 from 9am - 6pm EST, Monday to Friday in an 18 month trial from 20th Oct 2003. Here's a chance to report the effects of preservatives and colours in drugs (and see below for the story of the effects of benzalkonium chloride).

* The FDA has asked the makers of 10 common antidepressants to add or strengthen suicide-related warnings on their labels following an emotional meeting last month with anguished families who blamed the pills for their loved ones' suicides. Days later, a 19-year-old taking part in a study of Eli Lilly and Co's experimental new antidepressant duloxetine hanged herself in a company-run facility. The drugs of concern are SSRIs or SSRI-like drugs. www.msnbc.msn.com/id/4579108/

* Aspirin induced asthma. Many more adult asthmatics are sensitive to salicylates than are aware of their sensitivity, say researchers. While only 3% report aspirin sensitivity, 21% of adult asthmatics reacted to oral challenges. Most also react to ibuprofen, naproxen and diclofenic NSAIDs. Jenkins C and others, Systematic review of prevalence of aspirin induced asthma, BMJ 2004;328(7437):434-8, free full text at www.pubmed.com.

* Autism reaching 'epidemic levels'. Autism was first identified in 1943. The incidence of autism has increased from about 1 in 2,500 to 5,000 children in the 1970s to 1 in 150 to 500 children. A big new study in California is looking for causes. ttp://www.tcpalm.com/tcp/sci_tech/article/0,1651,TCP_1017_2593391,00.html


Preservative complaint rewarded

When Judy from Victoria emailed Goodman Fielder to complain about the recent addition of 282 to Sunicrust Mighty Soft bread, a customer service representative phoned her back. 'I pointed out that we no longer have a standard loaf size bread with no 282 and this affects our kids,' Judy said. She also mentioned the impact of putting lunches in square reusable containers 'to get environmental awards'. Goodman Fielder noted her complaint and sent her a $5 Coles gift voucher. 'To get them to reverse their decision, we need more people to complain to them', Judy says. You can email Goodman Fielder at http://www.goodmanfielder.com.au or phone 1800 025 768.

Readers' stories

[327] One-liners (April 2004)

* If it wasn't for your books, one of us would be dead by now - reader, Qld.

* Going failsafe is the best thing that our family ever did! - reader NT.

* Congratulations on your new book! Another wonderful read (full of tears for me!) - reader NSW.

* For the first time since my son was diagnosed with ADHD I was able to relate to someone about what it is like to live with this condition on a daily basis.- email.

* When I was diagnosed with a salicylate intolerance I found your book incredibly helpful and it stopped the usual 3 or 4 hours of runny nose every day! - reader UK.

* Your book with its striking cover jumped off the shelf at me - I couldn't put it down and we have been on the failsafe diet ever since. -email.

* The more I see the effect of this diet, the more I find it incredible to believe that the medical profession and food authorities/manufacturers can deny that additives have any effect. - reader Qld.

[326] Amines in supermarket meats (April 2004)

Even though my asthmatic daughter Kate improved out of sight on the failsafe diet, she never got the fabulous results that other failsafers report, and I always wondered why.

Up until November last year, Kate's peak flow was around 280-300 and although she never needed Ventolin, we couldn't get her off inhaled steroids. Suddenly in November her peak flow shot up to 380-395 consistently and we were about to take her off her Pulmicort. Then after two months she slumped back to a peak flow of 250 and needing Ventolin. Nothing had changed in her diet.

A light bulb moment occurred when I realised that I had been buying our meat from Coles or Woolworths for years but last November I started buying local butcher's meat. I hadn't realised the connection that the butcher's meat was what brought Kate's peak flow up to the 380 range and when I returned to buying Coles meat even though fresh, it slumped down to 250. Why?

It turns out that what I thought was fresh meat from my local supermarket hasn't been fresh at all. Meat is sent to the Bathurst Woolworths and Coles stores not as carcasses, but in vacuum packs. When the vacuum pack is opened, the meat is repacked in trays and sold as fresh meat to the consumer with a use by date 3-5 days from the opening of the cryovac pack. This lasts the supermarket up to 8 weeks so the meat can be up to 60 days old in the vacuum pack before it is opened and sold as fresh meat. By comparison, my local butcher reassures me that his meat is killed on Thursday/Friday and he gets it Monday. I purchase on that Monday for the week and freeze.

I found on the internet that vacuum packaging of meat is not an effective means of retarding the production of amines, and we know that Kate is a sensitive amine responder.

Kate has now been off Coles meat for five days. Her peak flow has risen from 250 to 330 already and she no longer requires Ventolin - so this was obviously the cause of her asthma. This was the hardest food item ever to figure out. I am usually pretty good at finding it but this one had me baffled until I realised the meat connection. It was only because there was a pattern to the asthma. Kate woke up every Monday morning needing Ventolin and the only thing different about Sunday was the roast lamb for dinner!

Coles Customer relations say that this is a fairly new procedure, but some stores have been doing it longer than others. Some Woolworths stores vacuum pack only beef not lamb, but Coles supermarkets vacuum pack both lamb and beef. This may change from supermarket to supermarket. I know that this is my problem and will be a problem for a lot of amine responders. Chicken is not affected, as it is usually 48 hour from slaughter to sale. After my sleepless nights and desperation to track down this offending amine, I hope now to get the word out to other amine responders which I know you will do on your website. - Susan Bragg, NSW.

[325] Autism - on or off-diet during assessment? Readers' opinions, please (April 2004)

My autistic son has been on the diet strictly now for nearly 2 years. He looks terrific and is very healthy with only a very mild sniffle since going failsafe.

He starts pre-primary school this year. It is the school where he went to kindy last year so they are very aware of his requirements such as: no hairspray, aerosol deodorants, perfume etc and are using enjo gloves in the classroom to avoid any chemical being used during the day. Big relief.

We have a five-month wait for the formal disability services assessment to obtain aids for school. I don't know whether to take him off the diet for the period of the assessment. On the diet, although excellent, autistic signs are still evident, for example: no eye contact, no imaginary play, everything is black or white, no flexibility etc. If we take him off the diet we get a severe reduction in speech, tantrums, aggression, argumentative, rashes, red ears, hypersensitivity to noise, dislike of being touched and the list continues.

I am an avid failsafer and can't now imagine life without failsafe (my son has failed all challenges on a number of occasions and is also intolerant to airborne salicylates). Could I have input from other failsafe mothers on what they think would be best during the assessment? - reader, WA.

[324] Autism and diet at school (2) (April 2004)

About 18 months ago you helped us put our son Ryan (now nearly 5 years old) on the elimination diet, after we had been to RPA for Ryan's hyperactivity, ADHD and autism. Three months later you helped us find a problem with wholegrain wheat and antioxidants that had pulled us undone. Salicylates turned out to be our main problem although antioxidants are a close second, with amines and other additives a problem too.

Our son is now in his second year at special school, where he has made great leaps and bounds. When Ryan started school he was already on the diet. Months later when we'd allowed bananas to become more frequent than one half every second day, his teachers actually came to me and asked was Ryan eating something he shouldn't be. It took us three weeks to figure it out, and cut back on the bananas. Through this incident, they really came to see what we were talking about. Interestingly the school has strongly supported us, always keeping us up to date with what's coming up for 'tasting' in cooking classes, and seeking alternatives for Ryan. I'm very grateful for this! - reader, NSW.

[323] Dodgy doctors and salicylates (April 2004)

I've kept my 12 year old's asthma at bay for most of his life with dust mite control, no additives etc. Since the Christmas holidays started he's had a virus and then constant asthma. I visited a doctor two weeks ago and he put my son on a wheat free, dairy free, additive free diet (all of which I've done before) as well as salicylate free diet for which he gave me a list of good and bad foods. He also recommended steaming eucalyptus twice a day for mucus control as well as some supplements.

After 10 days there had been no improvement so I sat down and reread your book as well as Friendly Food from RPAH. I found his list had been quite misleading - no talk about cold pressed oils, different rices, raw and roasted cashews, hazelnuts, tamari, additives in margarines etc. Probably the worst thing has been the twice daily sucking in of eucalyptus oil!!

There must be a lot of doctors out there like this who send people off with half-baked lists and advice and consequently end up with very spurious results. Most of the population treat doctors as gods and never question them but, as I have proven on many occasions, they are not infallible and people need to be a lot more aware and questioning. It is has been hard yakka trying to get my son to give up so many different foods and all for nought as now we will need to find somebody who really knows what they are doing and start again.

Had I not had your book, we could have come to the conclusion that the problem is not salicylates, whereas there is a possibility that it is. - by email.

[322] 635: Rash was caused by 2 minute noodles (April 2004)

Well it hasn't even been a week yet and I'm feeling better, my rash has cured 80% best ever, the main problem was Maggi 2 minute noodles as I have been eating them at least once a week since I left home (I guess mother's cooking says a lot there) just because they were quick and easy.- from the failsafe groups.

[321] 635: Life-threatening reaction to flavoured chips (April 2004)

I believe I had a very real dangerous reaction last year to chips whilst I was in early stages of pregnancy. I was admitted to emergency and due to difficulty breathing a nurse had to stay in with me. They asked me had I taken any unusual drugs etc and were baffled when the only different thing I had eaten was flavoured chips. I even took the packet with me, the reaction started almost immediately. Previously I had only ever eaten plain, but due to a craving I got a flavoured variety. I thought I was going to die. By the time I got to hospital (luckily it wasn't far from home) my mouth and throat was so swollen I couldn't talk or breath properly, of course because of this I was treated as high priority and treated straight away. Thank God I had realised straight away when I got a tingling burning sensation and felt like I had been to the dentist and had a local anaesthetic. My mother had said something about these chemicals recently in our diets (I had actually dismissed this at the time) but thank goodness she did. I think I am lucky to still be here. - reader, SA.

[320] Learned to read 'overnight' (April 2004)

My 5 1/2-year-old daughter Claire has been on the elimination diet for 2 months with amazing results. The main reason for doing the elimination was her bed wetting, and after about 5 weeks we saw a marked improvement (but not yet cure), also, she had stopped her ceaseless empty chatter, her cradle cap (she has had it since starting solids!) has pretty much gone, the dermatitis on her back has gone, her drawing has changed from a dark blue or black scribble to colourful age appropriate drawings of recognisable objects, and she has overnight (it seems) learnt to read! - from the failsafe groups.

See illustrations, the blue one was done a few days after the 'normal' one, while she was reacting to too many flavours in too many 'treats'


[319] 'Most improved mathematician' (April 2004)

I tried the failsafe diet several years ago unsuccessfully. I realise now that I was not strict enough with the salicylates and additives. So, once again I've turned to the book, this time with new vigour. After three days, my child who has learning difficulties and is repeating year 1 has been praised by three different teachers and is receiving an honour certificate at school (a positive reinforcement program). My older son (9) received an award on the same day for the 'most improved Mathematician - Years 4-7'. They do a fortnightly maths test (same test each time -they have a copy at home to practice) - he doubled the number of questions answered in the allotted time and got nearly all of them right with only one short trial at home. I am determined to continue this time. Thanks so much - we may have finally found the answers. - email.

[318] Chronic eczema (April 2004)

My 3-year-old daughter developed eczema at the age of six months when I introduced solids and by 8 months she needed frequent cortisone cream. The doctor said she would grow out of it, but every time I stopped using the cortisone cream the eczema would start again within 4 days. Now her eczema is so close to being gone that we are just waiting for some healed areas to disappear. Her legs are smooth and so are her arms except for a couple of tiny spots. She would still be covered in eczema if it wasn't for your books and all the heaps of help and reassurance you have given me. I've been close to tears and felt like giving up several times, but I couldn't let her suffer, I had to keep persevering. How do you say thank you for giving a child the opportunity to live a 'normal' life. - reader, NSW.

[317] 'Absolutely foul' to 'wonderful' 13 year old in three weeks (April 2004)

We are trying the failsafe diet for my 13-year-old nephew, Lachlan, who has come to live with us. Lachlan has ADHD and I believe a huge dose of oppositional defiance as well as Aspergers and I am finding him unmanageable. We noticed a bit of an improvement on the first 3 days of our failsafe diet but he then reverted to absolutely foul - defiant and oppositional!!

Two weeks later… I think that Lachlan's behaviour is better overall but I still get defiance at times. We have been on the diet for 3 weeks now and he has been off his dex for 1 week. He says he doesn't notice any difference, but I do.

Three days later … We had a wonderful day with Lachlan yesterday - so different from our daily experience a couple of weeks ago. I have decided to leave Lachlan off his medication indefinitely at this stage as he seems to be a much nicer person when not taking it. He even seems to be understanding some of the basic maths concepts that were just beyond his grasp in the past. - reader, Qld.

[316] Disastrous Christmas (April 2004)

A couple of years ago I discovered through the elimination diet that my son (now 8) can't tolerate gluten. I also suspected that he had a problem with artificial flavours, colours and preservatives, but due to the fact that we pretty much avoid these anyway, I didn't challenge him with them. Well, at Christmas we went for a month's holiday to New Zealand. I got slack on avoiding preservatives so he was eating lots of peanut butter with BHA (320).

The worst thing is that we didn't really think about what was causing his deteriorating behaviour, but just battled through our holiday trying to cope with it. When we returned home I started buying a different brand of gluten free bread but it wasn't until he returned to school and went from an average maths student at the end of 2003 to bottom of the class in a remedial group at the start of 2004, and looking back at the horrendous hour-long tantrums we were experiencing at home, that I seriously started questioning what was going on. Living with him was like treading on eggshells. At the end of one particularly distressing tantrum he said he hated himself and hated the way he felt. His teachers said he has NO concentration. I had noticed this myself at home during the holidays but STILL didn't think of diet! He had also totally lost interest in playing the piano which he was mad keen on before we went on holidays. He said it was too hard.

I phoned Woolworths to double check on the ingredients in their gluten free Kerry Formula bread. They told me they don't put preservatives in their bread. Then when I asked specifically about E320 she said, oh yes, it has that. Anyway, apart from 320 being in the bread he was eating 2-3 times a day, I'm not sure of what other preservatives he's had, but for nearly 2 weeks now he's been off them all and his behaviour has become quite reasonable. He has again become excited about playing the piano, and I have my lovely little boy back. Even my husband who is a bit of a 'disbeliever' until he is thoroughly convinced has noticed a big difference.

I can't believe I let all of this happen. And when it was happening I can't believe I didn't see it earlier. It's scary that chemicals permitted in our foods can have such an extreme effect. My son avoids gluten because he hates being sick. There is no problem there. But preservatives are more difficult. I can keep him off them now, but when he's a teenager will he have to become antisocial and drop to the bottom of the class again and reach rock bottom before he is determined to avoid them, because at the moment he can't, or doesn't want to, understand the connection. It's very hard, but when I feel sorry for myself or him I just remind myself that at least we know what the problem is. Wouldn't it be awful having that sort of behaviour and not knowing why? - reader, NSW.

[315] Preservative causes symptoms of motor neurone disease (April 2004)

Last year we moved into our new house and within a month I began getting generally weak with extremely weak arms. I had a few episodes of feeling drunk and not even being able to chew. I'm a cyclist and couldn't cycle for most of the year. They tested for everything from MS to motor neurone disease but put it down to a virus. Then I used a nasal spray. My nasal passages swelled up, I became itchy all over and my lips swelled. The same happened with eardrops. The preservative in them is benzalkonium chloride which is in a concentrated form in nearly every household cleaner (from Pine O Clean to spray and wipe type cleaners). I had started using these cleaners when we moved into our new house because the baths etc are plastic these days and they tell us to use spray and wipe instead of Jif. That was when it all started. In retrospect I believe my 'virus' was in fact this chemical. I have now almost completely recovered except for some weakness in my arms.- by email, NSW.

[314] 13 years of intolerance to soy (April 2004)

I am soy intolerant. More specifically I suffer from a legume intolerance which is only now apparent after 13 years of suffering and frustration. My intolerance manifests itself in the form of chronic idiopathic urticaria, meaning never-ending hives of unknown origin. 'These hives are large unbelievably itchy red welts that, in a severe attack can cover almost all of the body. My symptoms got worst and extended to lethargy, aching and swelled joints, sleepless nights and eventually an emotional feeling of hopelessness of ever being able to stop the relentless onslaught.

My story began when I was 30 years old and developed a few welts for no apparent reason since I was otherwise healthy. I went to well-known allergy experts and my GP. It was obvious to them that I was suffering a food sensitivity. After I failed a skin test for allergic reactions, they focused on a food intolerance type problem.

Years went by of chopping and changing, trying different things and variations to elimination diets. One thing did stick out - soy sauce caused me an immediate affect. Clearly I shouldn't have soy, but what else was causing the reactions? After all I only had soy sauce with a very occasional Chinese meal or rice.

The most important aspect of identifying my problem was keeping a record of what I ate every day for years. Eventually, when the breakthrough came, it was due to improved food labelling on Australian packaging combined with information on food ingredients in Professor Brostoff's book on food intolerance.

One afternoon, one of my kids left an empty Cheezels packet on the bench in the kitchen. I picked it up to dispose of it and, as I'd been doing habitually for years, read the food ingredients label. To my utter surprise and confusion, it said 'contains milk, dairy and soy products'. I always liked twisties and cheezels, but never read anything in the past that alerted me to soy products within the ingredients. I closely read the ingredients list. No mention of soy. That's odd, I thought.

I then went straight to the book mentioned above and referred to soya in the Appendices. Amongst other things it said '... a frequent offender in food intolerance.' I then recalled being tested for soy with the 'overdose' of soy milk routine. It didn't make sense. I keep reading down to 'Food Labelling' and there it was, 'May be described as lecithin, vegetable gum, vegetable protein, textured vegetable protein or vegetable starch'.

I referred back to the Cheezel labelling and there it was: 'vegetable gum'. I then went to the West Australian Health Department's 'Food Additives Guide'. I looked through and found all the numbers relative to these titles, particularly lecithin (322) used as an antioxidant in many foods and checked out my pantry and fridge. More than half the food I had contained at least one of these soy based ingredients, but not one made mention or reference to them being a derivative of soy.

I stopped eating anything that contained ANY soy based ingredients and within 24 hours there was a major change! (see rest of story) - Wayne, WA 

[313] Big improvement in reading and maths (April 2004)

We were having troubles with our son at school not concentrating and mucking up, but since reading your book and taking things out of his diet he went from reading level 3 to 16 in one school year and came first out of all the boys in his class in a maths test, so I would just like to thank you for giving us the information we needed. - Sherree, NSW.

[312] Naturopathic way makes us sicker (April 2004)

I have been using your book like a bible for my four-year-old and have had wonderful success. Without it I don't think our family would have survived. Our little boy has salicylate sensitivity and is also affected by a lot of preservatives and colours. He previously suffered from severe bloating, diarrhoea and stomach cramps which are controlled with this diet. His severe rages and tantrums also went away almost instantly when we started failsafe eating. My son is very grateful because he doesn't like having stomach cramps. He said to me one day when he was only three, 'Mummy what are we going to do about my tummy, it really hurts' and that was when I found your book.

I am a nutritionist and have studied through natural health colleges. I have found that trying to help my son and myself the naturopathic way only makes us much sicker, as you stated in your book. Damien cannot take vitamins or eat lots of fruit and vegetables. - Karen England, NSW.

MORE READERS' STORIES on the website

Product updates


* Amines in meat. An increasing number of Coles and Woolworths supermarkets are buying all their beef (and in some cases lamb) in vacuum packs, repackaging and selling up to 60-day old meat as fresh meat. This meat is far too high in amines to be failsafe. Check with your local supermarket, and see the story of Susan Bragg's fine detective work in Readers Stories.

* McCains Healthy Choice not so healthy: their Healthy Choice Fries and Wedges now contain unlisted antioxidant BHA(320). McCains tell us that the beef tallow in their hash browns is usually free of BHA, except over Christmas. Many manufacturers have complained to us that they are unable to source vegetable oil without BHA, even though ascorbates and tocopherols (306-309) are safe alternatives. Thanks to Andra Somerville and many other readers.

* Pampas Pastry: the butter puff pastry remains failsafe BUT Pampas Puff Pastry made with vegetable oil, not butter, is NOT failsafe due to the inclusion of listed sorbates (202) and propionates (281). Sorry for wrong information posted earlier!

* Bakers Delight finger buns are not failsafe because the flavour (listed on the website) is called 'spice wash' and definitely affects failsafers. Stick to the plain bread or get your finger buns from Brumbys. Thanks to the failsafe groups.

* Mighty Soft bread not so mighty anymore: Sunicrust Might Soft bread in Victoria now contains calcium propionate (282) as in the other states, see Judy's report below. Thanks to Alison, Peter, Jenny, Judy and many other angry readers - there were heaps of complaints about this one!

* BiLo bread caution - the supermarket in Chadstone (maybe all BiLo stores) used to supply beautiful fresh bread rolls, preservative free, baked in-house. Now the breads are not baked in-house but brought in and contain preservative 282. Thanks to Jenny Ravlic

* Regarding mercury in fish, Food Standards Australia New Zealand (FSANZ) now advise pregnant women, women planning pregnancy and young children to limit their intake of shark (flake), broadbill, marlin and swordfish to no more than one serve per fortnight with no other fish to be consumed during that fortnight. For orange roughy (also sold as sea perch) and catfish, the advice is to consume no more than one serve per week, with no other fish being consumed during that week. If amines are OK for you: canned tuna generally has lower levels of mercury than other tuna because the tuna used for canning are smaller species that are generally caught when less than 1 year old. It is considered safe for all population groups to consume a snack can of tuna (95 grams) everyday, assuming no other fish is eaten. More at www.foodstandards.gov.au

* Honey blends - for non-salicylate responders: Australian honey blended with Argentine honey is considered a serious health risk due to presence of nitrofurans- stick to 100% pure Australian honey. http://www.inspection.gc.ca

***GOOD NEWS ***

* Sunfield safflower oil in New Zealand in the oil section of your supermarket is antioxidant-free and failsafe. Thanks to Robin Fisher.

* Cheap canned pears, tinned halves or quarters in syrup, are available from the SPC Ardmona Factory Sales in Mooroopna, near Shepparton, Victoria. You can buy slabs of 12 x 425g cans for $12 full price, but on a good day, you can often get them for $4 or $6 on special. Thanks to Jenny Ravlic.

* Fantastic Long Life Noodles made from just wheat flour and salt are failsafe. Check ingredients lists on other noodles, as they often contain non-failsafe ingredients. Thanks to Tania Cannons.

* Sunbeam home Fairy Floss (cotton candy) makers have been strongly recommended. One tablespoon of sugar and ten minutes entertainment provides the kids with a failsafe treat. Great value for $59.00. Thanks to Andra Somerville and Sheryl Sibley.

* Fluff is a failsafe marshmallow spread, ingredients: glucose syrup, sugar, dried egg white and artificial flavour (vanillin) in the spreads section of Coles supermarkets, in a glass jar with a red lid. The website for recipes is: http://www.marshmallowfluff.com/ This product is limited for people who react to sulphites (glucose syrup) and salicylates (vanillin). Thanks to Ingrid Boyle

Your questions:

Q. We usually have a huge Easter egg hunt and my son keeps asking will he be able to have any eggs. Can he have a chocolate challenge over Easter?

A. You can't use regular Easter eggs for the amine challenge because they contain too much flavour (salicylates). Dark chocolate is recommended so Nestle dark choc bits (unflavoured) are ideal. You can make your own chocolate eggs out of that, by melting it down (in a double boiler) and using commercial chocolate egg moulds or you can use two spoons.

For non-amine responders, one failsafer has recommended the Lindt chocolate carrots available this year in Coles supermarkets because they are unflavoured.

Otherwise, you can buy carob Easter eggs. One failsafer wrote 'I have one 80gm carob egg, ingredients: milk solids, vegetable oil (palm kernel), carob powder (3%) and emulsifier (soya lecithin). I also have a small plastic rabbit container to put Pascall white marshmallows in.'

Or you can regard Easter as a treat, buy a packet of the very little chocolate Easter eggs as a way of minimising the harm, and use them for a big Easter egg hunt, so the hunt is more fun than eating the eggs.

I am usually inundated by emails from parents telling me how horrible their kids are in the week after Easter because the amine reaction is generally delayed and can last up to a week or more.

Q. Do you know anything about BeCALM'd?

A. Two families have reported that this product really works. Ingredients include natural amino acids 5HTP (L-5- hydroxytryptophan) and phenylalanine. In 1989 L-tryptophan supplements were associated with eosinophilia myalgia syndrome (EMS) including 37 deaths which may have been due to a bad batch. In 2001, the FDA warned that EMS and related disorders are also reported to be associated with exposure to L-5-hydroxytryptophan, which is not made in the same manner as L-tryptophan. (http://vm.cfsan.fda.gov/~dms/ds-tryp1.html). Phenylalanine may interact with certain psychotropic medications to cause movement disorders. Consult your medical professional before combining it with ADHD medication.

Q. A lady in a bakery told me this week that she was waiting on a delivery of new bread bags, as they had to list all ingredients now! (yay) Do you have the particulars of the new legislation?

A. The 'new' legislation is the new Food Standards Code, which was introduced in December 2002. Manufacturers were given until December 2003 to use up old packaging. The new code requires nutrition information and reduces the labelling loophole from 10% to 5%, but still doesn't require all ingredients to be listed. For example, it still means BHA (320) or TBHQ (319) can be hidden in products such as chips and biscuits in amounts which can affect our kids, especially if eaten every day (see disastrous Christmas story [316] ).

Q. Can you tell me how badly this preservative in 7UP lemonade would affect my child, and an alternative drink I could give her?

A. The preservative is sodium benzoate (211). It has been implicated in everything from asthma to itchy skin rashes to behaviour. Behavioural reactions are likely to be next day irritability, lasting all day, with outbursts if things go wrong. One woman who hadn't noticed the new preservative wrote 'My son had temper tantrums 20-24 hours after having the 7UP. We have stopped buying it now'. As an alternative, Schweppes bottled lemonade is preservative-free but limited to 150 ml per week because of salicylates and amines in the natural lemon flavour. You could try the Magic Cordial recipe in all my books and on the website brochures.

Q. Last summer I took a vitamin supplement and about 5 minutes later my heart started beating so fast and I couldn't breathe, and felt weak and cold-sweaty. I honestly and truly thought I was going to die. My mom sped me to the hospital emergency where they performed some tests, but according to them I could not be in better health. After about an hour of being tested all the symptoms went away just as suddenly as they came. I never had that before then or since, and I am 100% sure it was brought on by the supplement, although at the hospital they did not believe me.

A. Heart palpitations are a well-documented reaction to some of the B group Vitamins B1( thiamine), B2 (riboflavin), B3 (niacin, niacinamide, nicotinamide, nicotinic acid) and B6 (pyridoxine, pyryridoxol, pyridoxamine). Another failsafer described a sudden rash, dizziness, shortness of breath and 'my whole head became hot, flushed and red, so much that a colleague came over concerned' five hours after taking a multivitamin tablet which was free of additives and herbs. Niacin is known to cause flushing. There could also be hidden colours or herbs that affect some people.

Check out the Questions and Answers section in the website for many more details.

Around the groups: getting in touch

A failsafer would like to hear from others in Northern Ireland, respond via This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Anyone know where to buy fresh goat's milk in the Mt Colah -Hornsby (NSW) area?

Bounced emails: 2 from bigpond (topics failsafe/glycerine) and one from ncweb (triad asthma). Please try again. Preferably send alternate email addresses if your emails are not getting answered.

Dutch and Spanish translators - A big thank you to the five Dutch-speaking failsafers - more than I expected - who responded to my request for a Dutch translator! Are there any Spanish speakers out there who would like to translate bits of 'Presencia de sulfitos en carne picada y preparados de carne elaborados en industrias de la comunidad Valenciana'?

Restaurant review: The Peasants Feast in Sydney

A popular restaurant in the eating strip of King Street Newtown, The Peasants Feast is one of only two organic restaurants in Australia. Water is triple filtered, many of the dishes are gluten and dairy free, customers with food sensitivities are very welcome, and a booklet listing every ingredient in every item is available on request (we would like to see every restaurant do this!).

Although at first glance the menu is loaded with nonfailsafe items such as eggplant caponata torte, diners can order any food, cooked any way and avoid the high-salicylate sauces which are normally served. I chose grilled Oak Farm organic chicken, served on cous cous and yoghurt while Howard ate the kangaroo loin fillet with grilled sweet potato and we shared a side dish of green beans. Everything was beautifully cooked, presented and delicious. For dessert, we enjoyed the steamed banana pudding with a homemade, failsafe and truly exceptional caramel icecream. Entrees range from $10.50-$14.00, mains $19.50-$25.50 and desserts $9.00.

We ordered on the night which limited our choice and we were prepared to eat moderate salicylates and amines. If you want a special meal, the chef would prefer several days notice since many of the foods are marinated beforehand, phone 02 9516 5998. (Reviewers paid for their own meals.)

Email discussion groups

Email support groups are immensely popular and have over 700 members in total. There are now three big general groups and an increasing number of special interest or regional groups. Failsafebaby (to subscribe, email 'subscribe' in the subject-line to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.) is off to a strong start and has been expanded to include toddlers and children of any age who still need Neocate. New regional groups include finAd (Adelaide and South Australia), finNT (Northern Territory) and finCant (Canterbury NZ). See more details on the failsafe support Factsheet on the website.

A new general group for beginners has also just started, because Failsafebasic and Failsafe2 are over 150 members each. Email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Support contacts

There are now 70 support contacts in 47 locations in Australia, and in New Zealand and 7 overseas countries - see website.

Talks and television


MELBOURNE Sunbury: Thursday 22nd April, 1-3 pm: Food Intolerance and Allergy Seminar with Jenny Saal, leader of the Melbourne Food Intolerance Network, Sunbury Community Health Centre, 12-28 Macedon St. Sunbury, Cost $10, Contact: Helen Hill for bookings, Phone: 03 9744 4555. Any enquiries re food intolerance phone: Jenny 03 9740 5645 or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


SYDNEY Epping Monday 17 May 2004 7.30pm: Sue Dengate "Fed Up with Childrens' Behaviour" - West Epping Uniting Church, cnr Carlingford Rd and Orchard St. $5pp including supper. The evening will not cater to children. Phone 02 9868 3674 to register This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

SYDNEY Tuesday 18 May: parents of autistic children talk with Sue Dengate (tbc)

CANBERRA Wednesday 19 May 2004 1-2pm: Sue and Howard Dengate will give a seminar to FSANZ staff on "Intolerance Reactions to Food Additives". Not open to others.



Requested but no date set: Adelaide Hills SA, Tamworth NSW, Lismore NSW, Central Coast NSW


Printable trifold brochures on food intolerance and oppositional defiance are available. We'll post one of each for free that you can copy, or you can buy bulk copies at cost. See instructions on the website for accessing pdf versions. Email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. with enquiries.

We loved this comment from one satisfied failsafer:

"Ah, the answer to my prayers. I had no idea the brochure even existed, but thanks so much for directing me to it. I am not very Internet savvy, however I found it easy enough. Regarding possible opposition to failsafing within the child care setting ... now all I have to do is hand over a copy of this and let them ask questions! Thanks again. I highly recommend everyone print this out if you don't already have a copy, it sure cuts out the "but WHY can't your kid have (insert food here)?" questions. Great for grandparents too."

Cooks' corner

Fluff marshmallow spread

(see product updates)

Chicken noodle snack

1 packet Fantastic Long Life Noodles

homemade chicken stock

chopped cooked chicken

Bring stock to the boil, add noodles and chopped chicken and simmer until noodles are cooked. This is a good substitute for 2-minute noodles. - Tania Cannons


Moroccan Chicken

500 gm chicken thigh fillets

2 large potatoes, peeled and chopped

half a carrot, sliced thinly (optional)

1 shallot and half a leek, finely sliced and fried in failsafe oil

Put all ingredients in pot, bring to the boil, reduce heat and simmer for one to one and a half hours. Serve in a bowl or with cous-cous. - Grace Lyons


Butterscotch Pudding

'When I make it I always make two and the kids get so excited!!' - Dawn Lockwood

1 cup SR flour

3/4 cup sugar

1/2 teas salt

60g butter

1/2 cup milk

Sauce: 2 tbspn golden syrup

1 1/2 cup hot water

30g butter

Pudding: Sift flour, sugar an salt into bowl. Add melted butter and milk. combine thoroughly. Pour into greased dish. Sauce: Combine ingredients in saucepan, stir over low heat until butter melts. Pour mixture on top. Bake in a moderate oven (180-200'C) for 30-40 minutes.

The FAILSAFE Newsletter: You can have this Newsletter emailed to you for free about every two months. 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 Jenny Saal, Robin Fisher, Andra Somerville, Rex Warren, Arnold Ward, Tania Cannons, Jenny Ravlic and many others who have written, phoned and contributed to this newsletter. Further reading: The Simplified Elimination Diet from dietitians, Fed Up, Fed Up with Asthma, Fed Up with ADHD and the Failsafe Cookbook by Sue Dengate Random House, and Friendly Food, by Swain and others, Murdoch Books.