Fedup Newsletters


Newsletter of the Food Intolerance Network

January-April 2005

The Food Intolerance Network supports people worldwide using a low-chemical elimination diet free of additives, low in salicylates, amines and flavour enhancers (FAILSAFE) for health, behaviour and learning problems.

The FAILSAFE Newsletter is 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.


Bread preservative dropped from major brands

Dangers of dried fruit

“Kate has asthma – I need your help” – effects of toxic furniture

A2 milk report

Talking point: vacuum packed meat


Research Rage disorders and violence, Gluten and liver disease


In brief:More on gluten in oats, The Parents Jury, McDonalds, artificial sweetener Splenda (sucralose), Ayurvedic (traditional Indian) medicines, Tartrazine linked to cancer risk, Smell of new Italian leather sofa


Readers' stories: [359] - [368]

Product updates:detailed help and information.

Questions: detailed help and information.

Cooks Corner: Super Salad with Mighty Mayo, Cashew Bread, Wedding Whip


Hello everyone


After 15 years of lobbying, I am pleased that the bread preservative has been dropped from Australia’s leading brands of bread. This is the first time I can think of that consumer concern has led to such widespread avoidance of a food additive, and it has quite profound implications, see story below. Dried fruits are another food promoted as healthy for children but they are also likely to be the biggest dose of sulphite preservatives your child will ever encounter and your doctor is not likely to understand the effects, see new Factsheet on the Dangers of Dried Fruit. Some bad news about Birds Eye Li’l Fishies, previously the only colour-free fish finger, have now added annatto extracts to their product. Annatto is the only natural colour that affects kids as badly as artificial colours. Thank you to the thousands of readers who have written in, I’m sorry I can’t include everything, but you’ll find a mixture of interesting, inspiring and just plain gobsmacking stories in this issue, along with more ideas and recipes to help your family. Many thanks to the growing band of 77 group leaders and contacts, see new ones below - who work hard answering questions and supporting failsafers.

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

Bread preservative and the need for change


Manufacturers of Australia's two biggest selling brands of bread – Tip Top and Mighty Soft - are currently phasing out their use of the bread preservative calcium propionate (282) due to consumer concerns.


“Congratulations!” wrote one dietitian. “The hard work has finally paid off! Consumer opinion wouldn't have swayed in this direction if it weren't for consumer awareness, which you have undoubtedly contributed to greatly”. Since I have spent the last 15 years campaigning against the use of this additive, which I regard as the very worst of all additives, of course I am pleased, but there are wider implications of this action.


What has happened with the bread preservative is important because it shows that current medical thinking about food additives is wrong. The prevailing scientific model says that only a few children are affected by food additives so the greater good of the community is served the continued use of these additives. However, the move against the bread preservative shows that many more children are affected than authorities admit, and that the greater good of the community would be best served by the removal of harmful additives. It means that the use of other harmful additives should be re-evaluated. A change in scientific thinking like this is called a paradigm shift, and usually occurs because of something other than scientific research. In the case of food additives, it seems that the inevitable shift will be due to consumer demand.


Dangers of dried fruit


Promoted as a healthy snack, dried fruit is likely to be the biggest source of sulphur dioxide your child will ever encounter. One mother reported that her two year old daughter Maya was a “huge dried fruit eater”, consuming two or three packets of dried apricots or similar and two or three fruit bars per week. That works out at roughly 250mg of sulphites per day, or 20 times the Acceptable Daily Intake for an average two year old as set by the World Health Organisation. Sulphites are strongly linked to asthma and cough but when Maya’s persistent cough was diagnosed first as asthma, then as hypersensitive cough receptors, “the paediatrician advised that there was no link to diet and that she would probably grow out of it”.


Since avoiding sulphites, Maya has been cough free. We frequently hear similar stories regarding asthma. Other effects of sulphites include irritable bowel symptoms, eczema (see Meggan’s story), headaches and behaviour problems. See the full story with references in the new factsheet, Dangers of Dried Fruit.


“Kate has asthma – I need your help” – effects of toxic furniture


When I received an email with the subject line above, I knew some detective work was needed because Kate’s previously severe asthma has been well controlled since she went failsafe several years ago. After we checked that food was not the problem, we looked at environmental issues such as chlorinated water, perfumed products and then I asked about new computers or furniture. It turned out that for the last month Kate had a new TV, DVD and bedside lamp in her bedroom. New flame retardants and other chemicals in electrical goods and soft furnishings can cause a range of health problems that can be hard to track down. Kate reported that her chest felt tight as soon as she entered her room, and she could smell “a chemical smell”. It normally takes Kate’s asthma three days to improve after she is exposed to preservatives and she followed the same course this time. Within 24 hours of moving out of her bedroom, she started to improve and by day three, she no longer needed asthma medication. It is difficult for most people to understand that exposure to a certain smell can result in exactly the same effect as eating a food additive. Depression, lethargy, headaches or foggy brain can also be caused by flame retardants and other chemicals. See the new Factsheet Toxic furniture – effects of flame retardants.


A2 milk report


Many failsafers are finding that their children do better on A2 milk than regular milk; a dietitian says that children who improve on A2 milk will probably do even better on dairyfree; one longterm dairyfree failsafe family tolerated and enjoyed the Elgaar Dairy jersey milk (it’s A2) while on holiday in Tasmania (we have the list of distributors if you need it); note that goats milk is also A2; and one failsafer reported excellent service from Leapfrog who say it is actually easier to deliver to private addresses than health food stores – ‘they have homogenised, unhomogenised and skim all for $3.00 a litre, it is yummy and freezes well, but I recommend the homogenised for kids as mine thought it was really "weird" to see cream on the top of the milk (times have changed !!)’ – thanks to Karen Hardie, Andra Somerville, Darani Cooper and others.


Talking point: vacuum packed meat


Australian supermarkets and to a lesser extent butchers shops have recently introduced a new system of meat distribution. Most meat now arrives vacuum packed, is repackaged and sold as fresh, although it can be up to ten weeks old. Vacuum packing inhibits bacterial growth but not amines so consumers can be affected. There is no way of telling if meat is cryovacced other than by asking the butcher.


* Since our conversation (about cryovacced meat in supermarkets), my health has already picked up and I feel alive again. Have you mentioned the issue with buying beef from supermarkets in your newsletter before? I'm sure this will help others who take it for granted that they are buying fresh beef and are not. It has been a huge problem for me until you mentioned it. – failsafe adult with CFS


* We've found we have to completely avoid supermarket meat because it's all vacuum packed. I'm pretty irritated by the Woolworths ads that tell you what great care they take in selecting the best beef etc … I wish they'd at least label their meat to say that it's actually vacuum packed rather than fresh. – from a failsafe group


We’d like to hear what other have to say about this issue.

Are you affected?

Do you think vacuum packed meat should be labeled as such?

We’d also like to hear from anyone who is prepared to speak to the media about their experiences.


Our last talking point, about preservative-free skin creams, attracted many excellent suggestions, see Product Updates below.



Rage disorders and violence


Complete elimination of destructive and assaultive behaviours was found in more than 50% of patients aged 3-55 who took biochemical supplements to correct nutrient imbalances and in some cases modified their diets. “Effective prevention of delinquency and crime may require early interventions aimed at normalising the body chemistries of at-risk children,” said researchers from the Pfeiffer Treatment Centre in Illinois, who hope that the same results can be achieved by giving violent, disruptive people the correct diet to modify their behaviour. Of more than 200 subjects, the under-14s responded best – 92 per cent with a history of assault became less abusive. Walsh WJ and others, Reduced violent behaviour following biochemical therapy, Physiol Behav 2004;82:835-839.


Gluten and liver disease


A review of liver abnormalities in coeliac disease found that mildly abnormal liver biochemistry is frequent in untreated coeliac disease. Recent research from Europe has shown that 5% of patients waiting for liver transplants had undiagnosed coeliac disease. When treated by avoidance of foods containing gluten, their liver function improved so much they no longer needed a transplant. Further reading: Duggan JM, Duggan AE, Systematic review: the liver in coeliac disease. Aliment Pharmacol Ther. 2005 1;21(5):515-8; Magazine of the Coeliac Society of Australia, March 2005.

Diet not working as well as you'd hoped?

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

In brief


* More on gluten in oats. It is now widely considered in Europe that oats are not a source of gluten, and any gluten found in oats is due to contamination. However, it isn’t just the processing and packing plant that could be contaminated. Crop rotation, where wheat, rye or barley has previously been grown in the same paddock, may be a greater danger. The Coeliac Society of Australia warns that oats in Australia cannot yet be considered gluten free, although products containing contamination-free oats may become available.


* The Parents Jury is a new web-based network of parents who want to improve the food environment for children in Australia, open to all Australian parents with a child under 18. ‘It would seem to be a great forum for those of us who are interested in food intolerance’ – failsafer, WA. More details on http://www.parentsjury.org.au.


* McDonalds has agreed to pay a $8.5 million settlement over artery clogging trans fats in its cooking oils as the result of a lawsuit by a small US activist group called BanTransFat.com. Since lawyer and BanTransFat founder Stephen Joseph sued Kraft Foods two years ago over the trans fat content of Oreo cookies, Kraft has moved to reduce trans fats in its snack foods. In 2003, Denmark became the first country in the world to prohibit the use of oils and fats with trans fatty acid content of more than 2%. – www.foodqualitynews.com 14/2/05.


* An advertising campaign for the artificial sweetener Splenda (sucralose) has been criticised by the Florida Consumer Action Network (FCAN). "By using the word "sugar" and the phrase "made from sugar" over and over again in its advertising, Johnson & Johnson is trying to confuse consumers into believing that Splenda is a natural product,” said FCAN. "Splenda is produced through a chemical process that involves chlorination and phosgene gas, a major industrial chemical used to make plastics and pesticides." – www.foodnavigator.com. More about Splenda at www.mercola.com/2004/apr/14/splenda_reactions.htm.


* Some Ayurvedic (traditional Indian) herbal medicine products may be contaminated by toxic heavy metals, according to US researchers who found that 1 in 5 of such products manufactured in South Asia intended for oral use and available for sale in the Boston area contained potentially harmful levels of lead, mercury and/or arsenic. (JAMA 2004; 292: 2868-2873).


* Tartrazine linked to cancer risk: http://www.thecosmeticsite.com/1237227.html.


* After the smell of their new Italian leather sofa made them sick, a Norwegian couple was awarded $75,000. Lena Borlaug and Joergen Jensen claimed the smell was so overpowering it caused vomiting, headaches and nose-bleeds and forced them to renovate their entire apartment. Aust, 18-19/12/2004, p13.

Now targetting…


This new section is for the growing number of people who ask “Can I do anything to help?” These people phone food company hotlines and write letters to politicians and food companies. Judging by the bread preservative reversal, this strategy works. We have agreed to team up with Western Australian-based www.additivealert.com.au to target a different additive in each newsletter.


This issue’s additive is: ANNATTO (160b). Probably the most widely used colour in our food supply, in 1978 a study showed it affected more people than artificial colours, and Royal Prince Alfred Hospital Allergy Unit research has linked it to a wide range of reactions. It is used in dairy foods such as yoghurts, icecreams and flavoured milks, biscuits, cereals, crumbed products such as fish fingers and now in Birds Eye Li’l Fishies. We would be grateful if you could ring hotlines or write to send the message: we don’t like annatto 160b. It affects our kids. We would prefer the use of 160a (beta carotene) as in Europe, or preferably no colour at all. Many thanks to the dedicated band of activists out there. You are the unsung heroes protecting our children.


Readers' stories


[368] One liners (March 2005)


My husband has severe and crippling arthritis - the failsafe diet has given him relief and mobility. – by email, NZ


For nearly two years I was being pushed to medicate my child, then I went to a dietitian and got the elimination diet and we found the answer - by email


Regarding flavour enhancer 635, I have had three reactions to this substance, it is in Lays Flamin’ Hot Chips and Flamin’ Hot Munchies, it caused me within minutes to break out in a rash on my face, neck, and anywhere else I had touched on my body. It went away the next day but really scared me this time. – by email


It'll be nice to talk to someone who doesn't think I am being a rigid wowser bent on making my children’s life difficult! – by email, about meeting another failsafer


We could not believe the change in my 11 year old son’s mood as a result of the diet – he was suffering from frequent feelings of depression, accompanied by episodes of weeping and rage at the same time and an anti-depressant was a disaster. After six months, depression is a thing of the past. – by email


My dad sent me Fed up with ADHD from Australia and I have read it again and again. With the exception of the sleeping difficulties it was like reading a biography of my 8 year old son – by email, UK


Until I read your excellent book Fed Up with Asthma I had no idea food additives could trigger asthma, even as a sufferer all my life. The guidance of my invaluable local GP and your exceptional book have helped me to bring my asthma under control. – by email


When we went to see a paediatrician 18 months ago she wanted to give us two types of drugs for both kids. If she had mentioned diet I wouldn't have been calling you people with such desperation now. – by email


On two occasions I have been admitted to hospital with breathlessness and suspected symptoms of heart attack - on both occasions, after extensive tests, no abnormalities were found. I was quite surprised to read in your book the instance of the doctor who had a similar experience. – failsafer, by email


My 7 year old has gotten two merit awards in two weeks and I have nothing but praise about her from her teachers. She has been following the diet since December and although she still needs the Ritalin I find she is much better than last year. - email


I have osteo-arthritis which is much less painful if I adhere to the diet – if I inadvertently eat something that upsets me, I become overwhelmingly weary, my arthritis flares up and I can get bloating and irritable bowel symptoms. l often say in jest, " I cheat! I pay!" – by email


I have had unexplained nausea for years now, foggy brain so bad that I would forget what I was saying, and felt really tired all the time, sometimes needing two sleeps a day. After one month on the diet all this has gone, I expected it to improve on the diet but never thought it would stop completely. – by email


Thanks to your work and for your ongoing support, life at our house has improved enormously. – by email


As for convincing my family that diet is important, we would show them the eczema the day it looked the worst, and they would be convinced! – by email, Sydney


My cousin is 4 weeks into the failsafe diet and is reporting great effects for herself and two daughters (one with ASD) – by email.


My husband said that your book has helped us more than any doctor ever has. – by email



[367] Sneaking food at school (March 2005)


I scheduled a meeting with my kids last night and we made up a temptations bag and a truth bag with non food goodies inside e.g. 1/2 hour extra bed time, 1/2 hour extra computer time, game of bowling. They all responded very well and the confessions came out, they were similar to what I thought. Just before bed I reaffirmed how proud of my son I was for his honesty and he got a massive case of the guilts and fessed up to lots more sneaks, redskin, food on excursion from other kids such as salad wrap, black jelly beans, chocolates etc. He said all the kids love my FS muffins and were happy to swap. – by email



[366] “My babies woke up 8 times every night” (March 2005)


A friend gave me your book "Fed up" to read and I simply can't believe the difference it has made to our lives. I have four children. Three of them have been terrible sleepers right from birth. I have spent a week at Tresillian house with my 3rd child, where he was handed back to me at the end of the week unchanged. My babies all woke up on average 8 times every night and I have been so sleep deprived over the past 8 years that I became postnatal.  I have a Degree in Early Childhood and have worked as a Director in a Pre-School for many years, and thought that I could control their behaviour by employing techniques acquired through professional training. It was frustrating to find that I couldn't cope. My first child was such a shock! I simply couldn't leave the house with him.


This book came in time for my 4th and final child. My daughter fell into the same terrible broken night sleep pattern as the others. After struggling for 8 months, she did start to settle down, waking perhaps once a night.  This was great until I started her, at age 10 months, on bread. She immediately returned to night waking - for no apparent reason - and also had a clear runny nose.  I found that the bread she was having had 282 in it. SO we stopped feeding it to her. Within a couple of nights she again settled down to a peaceful nights' sleep! AND her nose cleared up! I can't believe that it could have been that simple!


My question to you regards my children when they were babies, constantly struggling to sleep - could this additive (calcium propionate, 282) have been passed on to the baby through my breastmilk, causing a similar reaction??? [The answer is of course, YES, food chemicals are passed through breastmilk – Sue] – by email



[365] 635: Swollen, blistered and bleeding lips from ribonucleotides (635) (March 2005)


The symptom first appeared when I had taken my eight year old son to KFC. There was chicken salt on the chips. 48 hours later, he had woken with extremely swollen lips, they had peeled, split and were bleeding. He had obviously been bleeding in his sleep as well. I freaked at the thought of what could have happened that night.


After the process of "what did we have in the past couple of day”, I narrowed it down to the chicken salt. I warned my family, close friends and even my neighbours of what I believed to be an allergic reaction and purchased the Food Additives booklet from a health food store.


I came across this problem again with Kraft BBQ shapes, we used to eat these all time as a snack instead of lollies etc. I don't know whether or not they have changed their contents but we now can't eat them. His reaction time was again 48 hours.


However, the next time it happened, his reaction time had reduced to 1 - 2 hours. He was at a neighbour’s son's birthday party, and I warned the mother of my son’s possible allergic reaction. The party lasted for roughly 2 hours. When my son came home, I could see his lips growing as he walked towards me. They were blistering on the inside and bleeding. I immediately asked the mother what she had at the party and found that the cheese sticks she had given them had 635 in it. I immediately gave him some Polaramine Syrup and his Seretide Puffer and drove him straight to the doctors, amazingly the polaramine had seemed to somewhat control the reaction.


The doctor could see his reaction. His fingers also started to pimple and blister. It was then that I was given a referral to a paediatrician. The doctor was also concerned that my son might be suffering from Stevens Johnson Syndrome [a severe adverse skin reaction to drugs].


By this time my head is spinning. I believe that I could lose my son at the drop of a hat due to the powers that be allowing these chemicals into our foods. – by email



[364] Uncontrollable rages – 9 year old would constantly try to hurt himself (March 2005)


My 9 year old son started on the failsafe diet 3 months ago and his is teacher this year said it is like having a totally different child in the class. Before the diet it was impossible to live peacefully. He would have uncontrollable tantrums that would last hours where he would scream, cry, kick, headbang etc and we didn't know what would set him off. When he was going through these rages he would constantly try to hurt himself and kept screaming at me that he was no good, he was a bad boy and I'd be better off with another little boy - it broke my heart every time it happened. I think the longest both of us went without any sleep because of a 'rage' was three days.


The crunch came when he went off at school after lunch one day and it took me hours to calm him down and then time to pacify the school. We were both at our wits end. When I decided that we needed to go failsafe I totally cleaned out my pantry and freezer of everything that wasn't 'safe' and went shopping. My son has adapted really well to the new foods and never complains about it. Because I had no angry foods in the house neither of us looked for them and my son was content to eat what was available. He now sticks strictly to the diet and will not eat anything unless he reads the label first and if he doesn't understand the label he says no because mum hasn't said he could have it and he doesn't know if it's 'safe'.


I am so proud of him today. From a child who was on the verge of being expelled from Year 3 to a happy one in just over 3 months is amazing. It is a joy to get him from school each day as he always comes out skipping/running and grinning like a busted watermelon - no more tears. He has told me more than once he is feeling better now he is not so angry all the time. We are one very grateful household. – by email



[363] Vulnerable new mothers (March 2005)


Before the diet, my son presented with headaches, itchy skin (in elbows, on legs, usually scratching until it bleeds), black circles under his eyes, "jumpy" behaviour, irritability, day and night pants wetting, pains in the tummy and awful loose bowel motions, blocked ears and sleep apnoea as well as incessant snorting and inability to breathe at night. As a baby he had eczema, colic, could not sleep and fussed with breast milk from 4 months ... somebody needs to support vulnerable new mothers to help their fussy kids, not make it worse by shoving disguised dairy foods (or whatever the particular issue is) down their throats, and then advise the mother to let them scream it out because they obviously have us fooled with sleeping and behaviour problems! – by email



[362] Generally unwell throughout life (March 2005)


I am a retired RN and I have three daughters and three young granddaughters. Throughout my life I have visited many doctors complaining of bowel problems, nausea, vomiting and feeling generally unwell, only to be told on frequent occasions and after many investigations, that it was all in my head. As a child I can recall frequently feeling very unwell and being diagnosed as having had "bilious attacks', however I can now attribute the cause of these episodes to an intolerance to natural food chemicals.


Because I enjoy cooking I often browse through recipe books in the shops and this is how, some years ago, I came across a copy of 'Friendly Food'. After browsing through it I realised that this book described symptoms which sounded very like mine. Maybe it wasn't in my head after all! I requested a referral from my GP to RPAH Allergy Clinic and after undertaking the elimination diet, my dietician at the clinic concluded that I was very sensitive to salicylates and I also had some milder reactions to quite a few other substances but not amines.


It is now quite a few years since I was diagnosed and I am delighted that there is now a website and also your great Failsafe Cookbook for guidance. The oldest of my granddaughters has recently been "tamed" from oppositional defiance disorder by using the Failsafe Diet. She is now quite a different child, no longer having restless legs, eczema, or being uncontrollable or defiant. Although she is only five years old she is quite happy to comply with the failsafe food because she now feels so much better. My three daughters all recognise that they do have problems with some foods so it appears that I have unfortunately handed down the problem to both generations.


I am now without too many problems although trying to modify my diet when I attended Weight Watchers was a bit of challenge. However, I did eventually manage to lose 10kg. When travelling to UK and the States I have always come home feeling very much the worse for wear due to food intolerances so I am delighted to see that there are now failsafe contacts overseas should I venture forth again one day. Getting people to understand food intolerances is always a problem and I am now quite used to being asked to say exactly what food items I am allergic to and then I try, often without success, to explain the difference between food intolerances and allergy. I am sure that your glossy brochures will be very useful for this. - Jane Hoad, NSW



[361] Asthma and Alpha-1 Antitrypsin Deficiency (March 2005)


I got asthma for the first time four years ago. At that time, I didn't know what was happening and it took me about two hours to breathe properly again. After my second asthma attack I went to the doctor and my peakflow reading was only 160 - anything under 200, you should be in hospital. I spent about $3000 trying to find out was wrong. I went to ear, nose and throat specialists, respiratory specialists etc. Finally I got the diagnosis of asthma, chronic allergic rhinosinusitis and I found out later by a blood test that I had alpha-1 antitrypsin deficiency (A1AD) – a genetic enzyme deficiency that can cause lung disease.


I have your books Fed Up, Fed Up with Asthma and the Failsafe Cookbook - all brilliant!!!! And I have not been sick since I started the elimination diet. The only doctors’ visits I have needed have been to get approval to reduce the medication. When I first developed asthma, I was put on a preventer which I took 4 times a day. Later they put me on a stronger preventer (Symbicort 200/6 turbohaler). After the diet, when I cut down my preventer medication to half (2 puffs a day) my peakflow readings never went below 400. When I had a peakflow reading of 500, I decided to reduce it again with the approval of my doctor. I felt so good the next day I decided not to take the preventer medication at night, I now only take the 1 puff of preventer in the morning.


Through the diet, I have found that I react to all the food you say sensitive people might react to: MSG, nitrates, salicylates, amines, colours, preservatives and dairy foods, although MSG is the worst. I do gluten free, egg free baking because I found out my 5 year old is dairy/gluten intolerant and my 6 year old reacts to eggs - they are affected by everything else like me and my 7 year old is also affected by antioxidants. I am also intolerant to chemicals and had very bad side effects from the contraceptive pill.


I hope that other people will achieve the results I have as it has made a huge change in my life, and as a bonus, I have lost 15 kg! – Tracy Grove, NZ



[360] 282: Biting related to bread preservative (March 2005)


My 14 month old daughter is a wonderful and very loving little girl who NEVER bites. However, recently she bit me twice for no reason and I realised that each time it was after I bought a different brand of bread with 282 in it, so I waited a while and then gave it to her again - and sure enough, she bit me again! – reader, NSW



[359] Meggan’s story: eczema related to sulphites (March 2005)


I put my nearly two year old daughter on the failsafe diet about 18 months ago for her severe eczema. Since her symptoms were so bad we went gluten free as well but she actually got worse. It wasn’t until she improved on the wheat challenge that I realized the sulphites in the gluten free flours had been affecting her. She still didn’t come completely right and eventually we realized she was affected by sulphites in our bore water (we live on a farm). Then about three weeks ago I gave her a Pascall's white marshmallow and after a two hour sleep she woke with a very itchy rash covering a large part of her body. I believe it was caused by the sulphites in the gelatine in that one marshmallow. Since then we have stopped her sago and soy icecream (due to the sulphites in sago and gelatine) and I believe she is now completely sulphite free. Her skin is now perfect. – reader, Qld







MORE READERS' STORIES on the website

Product updates


Bread: The removal of 282 from Tip Top and Mighty Soft breads is a step in the right direction because large numbers of children will no longer be forced to eat calcium propionate every day. However, vinegar will be used instead which means that these brands are still not failsafe (although in an emergency they will be more acceptable) and we still recommend Brumbys and Bakers Delight failsafe breads.


Soap: Redwin Unperfumed Sorbolene Moisturising Bar with Vitamin E and Glycerine has been recommended by several failsafers, including one who reacts to Simple soap.


Dried Pears: Goulburn Valley Fruit Leathers make pure pear fruit leather containing no chemicals and no preservatives. The fruit is picked ripe and peeled by machine, so not necessarily perfectly. They cost $1.20 per 20gm roll and have leaflets with more information. Ph/Fax (03) 5829 2338, email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. – thanks to Llewellyn Wall


Efalex labelling: there have been complaints about the Efalex Liquid claim to be free of salicylates and amines despite the inclusion of lemon and lime flavouring and tuna oil. Some failsafers have bad reactions to it: “My six year old son had an horrific adverse reaction to Efalex liquid and was waking up through the night on it, in fact, he asked me if he could stop taking it”. – thanks to the father who made an official complaint about the inaccurate labelling.


Deodorants: some failsafers report reactions to Crystal (mineral salt) deodorants, although most tolerate them well. Simple deodorant is an alternative.


Feminine hygiene products : Johnson& Johnson have recently introduced a fragrance into their Stayfree range of panty liners and pads but say they would welcome consumer feedback about this. The makers of the Libra range assure us they have no plans to add fragrance to their products. – thanks to Robin Fisher


Panadeine is a combination of codeine and paracetamol and is good for cough suppression. A cheaper and more effective failsafe version of Panadeine which also has a little more codeine in it than Panadeine is the Chemists Own Brand of tablets simply called 'Pain Tablets'. – thanks to Jane Hoad


Butter in South Africa: Woolworths Ayrshire range of butter is annatto free, but their brick butter contains unlisted annatto (160b).


*** WARNING*** Fish fingers: Birds Eye L’il Fishies, while not failsafe were good for a nearly failsafe night off – fish fingers and chips – but have just changed the recipe. Previously colour free, they now contain 160b. Beware. The label says “no artificial colours or flavours” and the ingredients list annatto extracts without a number. “It’s almost like they’re tricking you,” commented one mother.


Antidote (1) Soda bicarb hint: “Some of us have been making our own capsules using clear gelatine and filling them with bicarb - good for kids who refuse the bath or the cordial !! “


Antidote (2) Eno sparkling antacid powder, regular (ingredients: sodium bicarbonate, sodium carbonate, citric acid – read the label carefully, ingredients can vary) is failsafe and pleasant tasting. Because of the combination of acid and base, it would not be as effective as soda bicarb alone, so you would need to take more to achieve the same effect, according to our food technologist. The only catch with this is a higher sodium intake. – thanks to Robin Fisher


Sorbolene alternatives: preservative free skin moisturizers and eczema creams in response to the question from the wound care nurse in the last newsletter – thanks to Fay Diffin, Alison Walsh, Jessica from Sydney, JB, Cathy Bannister, Merry Pepper, Amber Strong and others, several of whom noted that they rarely needed eczema cream now they use the diet.


* Dermeze ointment (a moisturiser for dry skin) was developed by Royal Childrens Hospital. It contains 50% liquid paraffin and 50% white soft paraffin. Available from chemists, it may need to be ordered, comes in a 500g tub for about $13.00 and lasts a long time. It is reasonably greasy, but good for night time application. Stored in the fridge, it is lovely and cooling. Recommended by several failsafers.


* Ego brand of skin creams are low allergenic - they are made by dermatologists in Australia (Victoria) - and have fantastic attention to detail, although quite expensive. You should wash hands before applying cream and don't dip your fingers back in the pot to avoid introducing a fungus or bacteria from the skin back into the cream.


* The common additive triethanolamine(TEA) on skin contact may cause irritation, redness and pain, especially on repeated contact. It is often used in cosmetics to adjust pH and may cause an allergic reaction. To ensure that sorbolene is free of this additive ask a local chemist to make a batch of pure sorbolene with 10% glycerin (for added moisture retention).


* I have had the most success with QV brand items from the chemist. I use QV Kids Wash to wash my face (it's the only thing I've ever found which doesn't feel as though it's burning), and I've found the creams and lotions to be safe. The oatmeal hair wash is also safe and unperfumed.


* Make It Yourself Sorbolene is available at website www.personalhealth.com.au. This is a kit of ingredients to make your own fresh and more effective sorbolene cream. It is possible to request preservative free ingredients. You get a big tub of fresh cream all fresh and works like a dream on rashes, etc.


*Lipobase do a preservative free line of skin creams.


Check out the Failsafe shopping list on the website for latest information.


Your questions:


Q. My doctor says that the salicylate level drops and the vitamin C level increases in the last three days before the fruit drops off the tree. Is this true?


A. I haven’t been able to find any research that mentions three days, but yes, it is true that beneficial antioxidant vitamin levels rise at the end of ripening, and that salicylate levels are lowest at the beginning and end and highest in the middle of the life of the fruit – which is often when it is picked for supermarkets and processing. Also, salicylate levels are lowest between sundown and sunup, so windfalls and ripe fruit picked before dawn for farmers markets and in Asia will be at the lowest possible levels, especially if from old fashioned varieties that haven’t been bred for pest resistance and to stay firm. This would explain why we found we could eat soft, sweet, ripe pineapples, oranges, mandarins, tomatoes and strawberries with no effects in Indonesia, Nepal and Egypt. It is also possible that artificially ripened supermarket fruit is chemically different from fruit ripened on trees. More information from A Comprehensive Explanation of Plant Hormones by Paul Pruitt (he regards salicylates as hormones) on Wikipedia.


Q. My husband’s boss has invited us to an Indian restaurant and we can’t refuse – any suggestions?


A. It won’t be failsafe but you can minimise the damage. Indian restaurants often use artificial colours so avoid any tandoori dishes (artificial reds). Yellow rice can be due to saffron (failsafe) or artificial yellow but most places will cook white rice for you. Sunset yellow (artificial, 110) is sometimes used in any dish containing yoghurt and some restaurants use other artificial colours as well. You could phone beforehand to ask about colours. Choose failsafe ingredients, eg lamb, chicken or lentils rather than prawns, eggplant or spinach, and ask for mild curries. Indian breads such as roti are probably made on the premises and are usually safe. Vegetable samosas (potatoes and peas) can be quite mild. Cucumber raita – a small amount of cucumber in a large amount of natural yoghurt – is fairly safe. Water or soda water are the best drinks. Wine is definitely a problem but if you must have it to be polite, drink one glass slowly, refusing refills. Indian sweets such as gulab jamun or kulfi (mango icecream) are fairly safe unless they contain artificial colours or you have a problem with dairy foods. When I have to eat out, I have a tsp of soda bicarb in a glass of water as soon as I get home and several times the next day.


Q. Could you please tell me what others do for Easter celebrations? We live in country NSW and I don't have a clue. My son has asked me if the Easter Bunny still comes. He can eat carob without any adverse reactions.


A. Most people can buy commercial carob Easter eggs. If not, you can make your own by melting carob blocks and pouring into commercial Easter egg moulds or spoons – when set, warm the flat edges slightly to stick them together, then wrap them in foil. Another suggestion is to use some of those tiny chocolate Easter eggs - as a treat - in a big Easter egg hunt, so the hunt itself is more fun than the eating. You could also join one of the email discussion groups for suggestions. One mother bought the Tigger/Pooh Bear Mask Easter eggs from Big W to use the mask for making carob versions and also suggested making marshmallow and carob eggs using moulds.


Q. Can you help with the name of a worm tablet that is suitable? I can't find one which is colour, flavour, and preservative free.


A. There are no failsafe worm tablets. If your kids react, you might want to tell the Adverse Medications Event hotline (1300 134 237). It is our chance to change the system. If they get enough reports from us, they might introduce colour-free, preservative-free, flavour-free medications. Failsafers say the staff are incredibly friendly and helpful.


Q. Our pediatrician has basically said that my son has ADHD, but he is not into foods as a cause. I need some help.


A. I’ve sent you our dietitians’ list and suggestions about how to find a dietitian. If you can’t find one in your area, a number of failsafers have also recommended doctors through the list at ACNEM, the Australasian College of Nutrition and Environmental Medicine (www.acnem.org). While most of the ACNEM health professionals are not able to fully explain the failsafe diet – you need to study that for yourself – failsafers report they are aware of salicylates and amines, prepared to listen, respect your opinions, encourage you, test for coeliac disease if appropriate, and check your child’s nutrition.


Q. How does the Glycaemic Index (GI) apply to failsafe foods?


A. The GI measures the rate at which carbohydrate foods are digested and absorbed in the body. Low GI carbohydrate foods are considered to be healthiest because they provide a gradual energy release – keeping your blood sugar level - throughout the day. High GI foods provide a quick energy boost. Overall it is best to have a combination. See a list of the GI per serve for failsafe foods below. You can turn a high GI food into a low or moderate GI food by mixing it with a low GI food. However you need to apply some commonsense. Since fats and oils have low GI, in some commercial products, the low GI rating comes from high fat, which is not desirable. Potato crisps are a good example. Saturated fat is now considered to be far worse for people with diabetes than sugar. The moral of the GI story is that it is good to limit your intake of dietary fats, to include low GI carbohydrate foods such as nuts, lentils, beans, oats, pasta and cereal fibre such as bran (from wheat, oats, rice or psyllium) in your diet and to eat balanced meals and snacks rather than to consume sweets or sugary drinks alone. More details from The GI Factor by Dr Jennie Brand Miller and others, Hodder, many editions.


100 Glucose

90 Bread, gluten free (adding fillings will reduce the GI)

83 Rice bubbles (serving with milk or soymilk will reduce GI, but see porridge at 42)

70 Bread, white or wholemeal (average)

70 Mashed potato

69 Milk arrowroot biscuits

66 Magic cordial (and non failsafe soft drinks)

65 Sugar (sucrose)

65 Rye bread

61 Icecream (average)

55 Oatmeal biscuits

55 Banana (FS for non amine responders)

54 Pound cake

54 Potato crisps

59 Rice, Doongara compared to 87 for Calrose

48 Peas, green, fresh or frozen half cup (FS if moderate glutamates tolerated)

42 Porridge made with water, same as All-Bran

41 Spaghetti, white, cooked

38 Pear, fresh compared to about 50 canned in syrup

31 Soy milk (So Good)

28 Sausages, fried

28 Lentils, boiled

27 Milk, full fat

27 Kidney beans

25 Barley, pearled

19 Rice bran (psyllium is also low, failsafe and can be added to cereals)

14 Cashews (assuming same as peanuts)


Q. I am worried that the failsafe diet contains too much sugar.


A. Many failsafers find they need extra treats to help them get through withdrawals and the food chemical cravings stage. After your family is settled on the diet, you can reduce sugar and increase vegetables. (“I just gave up baking, and it’s much easier now” said one failsafer 12 months after starting failsafe). However, you can choose failsafe foods without sugar from the beginning if that’s what you want. See Ethan’s menu in Newsletter 43 for an example of a child’s glutenfree, dairyfree failsafe day with little sugar. One mother was pleased to hear that you can feed children dinner recipes such as pasta, mince and vegies for lunch and snacks - “I never thought of that,” she said. I myself like sugary desserts for treats and special occasions but what I ate yesterday is an example of my regular weekday diet – it’s fairly low in fat and sugar, and contains many low GI foods:

* cooked porridge with chopped tinned pear half and home-made soy yoghurt

* toast with bean or cashew paste and fresh pear (sometimes half a mango - my moderate salicylate allowance)

* Mountain Bread wrap with Howard’s bean paste (Failsafe 43, or sometimes a hard boiled egg) and Mighty Salad (see recipes below)

* small handful of raw cashews (if bean paste used on toast above)

* vegetable soup with red lentils and barley

* panfried fresh white fish (can be lamb stew, chicken stirfry, egg stirfry, kidney beans) with rice, green beans, cabbage, brussel sprout and carrot (my moderate salicylate allowance)

* bowl of quick cook oats, canned pear and soy yoghurt for dessert

* drinks – water, decaf, hot carob with soymilk.

See also the Failsafe Weightloss factsheet.

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

Around the groups: getting in touch



There are now 70 support contacts in 47 locations in Australia, and in New Zealand and 10 overseas countries - see website.

The failsafeasthma group is now under way. Since effects of food and the environment can be different for asthmatics than other failsafers, we strongly recommend this group for asthmatics.


There have been concerns expressed about the large numbers in failsafe3 group. We now recommend failsafebasic for beginners. It is the smallest of the big general groups, You can join by sending an email to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. with subscribe in the subject line.


Failsafe youth – we’ve had a request for an under 18s group – anyone interested?


South Africa: Hayley: phone 043 7267631, Reitjie: email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. Reitjie would love to hear from other failsafers in South Africa.


Perth now has a small failsafe group meeting regularly, for details email Julie: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or Ingrid: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


Adelaide, the FinAD group organises regular failsafe sausage orders. You can join by sending an email to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. with subscribe in the subject line.


Hong Kong: When a Hong Kong beginner asked if there were other HK failsafers I put her in touch with another failsafer. It turns out they live close to each other and are now meeting regularly. Are there any other failsafers in Hong Kong who would like to make contact? Email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.



CALOUNDRA QUEENSLAND: FOSTERCARE QUEENSLAND ANNUAL CONFERENCE Sunday 13 March 9.00-10.30am Rydges Oasis Resort, Caloundra. Sue Dengate “Fed Up with Children’s Behaviour”. Registrants only.

BRISBANE QLD Tuesday 15 March 2005 at 10.00am for 11.00am: Sue Dengate “Fed Up with Children’s Behaviour”. The Autism Spectrum Disorders Carers Support Group at the Relaxation Centre of Queensland, cnr Brookes and Wickham Streets, Fortitude Valley. Bring a plate to share, the meeting will not cater for children, Sue’s books for sale. To register ring the Relaxation Centre at 07 3854 1986.

BRISBANE QLD Wednesday 16 March 2005 at 7.30pm: Sue Dengate “Learn how foods can affect behaviour”. Mansfield Primary School Hall, Ham Rd, Mansfield. $8 prepaid or $10 at the door, supper provided, Sue’s books for sale, the evening will not cater for children. Cheques payable Mansfield State School P&C, c/o 12 Picardie Close, Mansfield 4122. Enquiries to Anne 0401 583 114 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

MELBOURNE VIC Thursday 17 March 2005 at 7.00-9.30pm: Sue Dengate, “Fed Up with Children’s Behaviour”. Fruitful Vine Church Auditorium, corner Major Cres and Kelletts Rd, Lysterfield (entrance is off Kelletts Rd), $5. Enquiries to Kathleen 03 9762 8105 This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or Jenny R. 03 9544 2804 This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


MELBOURNE VIC Friday 18 March 2005 at 12.30-3.00pm: Sue Dengate, “Fed Up with Children’s Behaviour”. Holy Family Church Hall, 236 Stephensons Rd, Mt Waverley (parking is available until 3pm so session will conclude promptly), $5. Enquiries to Kathleen 03 9762 8105 This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or Jenny R. 03 9544 2804 This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


APRIL 2005


MULLAWAY-WOOLGOOLGA NSW Tuesday 5 April 2005 at 7.00-9.00pm: Sue Dengate, “Fed Up with Children’s Behaviour”. Rainbow Cottage Woolgoolga is hosting the talk at Mullaway Public School Hall, off Pacific Highway, Mullaway. $10, Sue’s books for sale. Enquiries to Kylie 02 6654 2277 This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


MAY 2005


MELBOURNE SUNBURY VIC Monday 9 May 2005 at 9.30am - 12pm: Jenny Saal (Midwife and food intolerance counselor) Sunbury Community Health Centre 12-28 Macedon St Sunbury. Bookings 9744 4455. Price to be confirmed.


JUNE 2005


GLADSTONE QLD Monday 6 June: Sue Dengate, “Fed Up with Children’s Behaviour”. Venue to be confirmed.


ROCKHAMPTON QLD Tuesday 7 June: Sue Dengate, “Fed Up with Children’s Behaviour”. Playgroup Association of Queensland. Mercure Inn, Bolsover Street, Rockhampton. $12.50 for Playgroup Qld members, $16.50 for non-members. Booking 1800 171 882.


TOWNSVILLE QLD Wednesday 8 June: Sue Dengate, “Fed Up with Children’s Behaviour”. Playgroup Association of Queensland. Ignatius Park Hall, Ignatius Park College, Ross River Rd, Townsville. $12.50 for Playgroup Qld members, $16.50 for non-members. Booking 1800 171 882.


CAIRNS QLD Thursday 9 June: Sue Dengate, “Fed Up with Children’s Behaviour”. Playgroup Association of Queensland. De Jarlais Function Centre, Cairns Show Grounds, Mulgrave Rd, Cairns. $12.50 for Playgroup Qld members, $16.50 for non-members. Booking 1800 171 882.




Printable trifold brochures on food intolerance and oppositional defiance are available. We'll post two free that you can copy, or you can buy bulk copies at cost $A0.22 each plus postage. 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 failsafeing 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."


Cook’s corner




* My son calls Magic cordial 'Memolade'. I make it on soda and put it into my empty tonic bottles so it looks like a special drink and feels special. – Chelle, Qld


* Quality Lebanese Bread is fully failsafe (ingredients: wheat flour, water, sugar, yeast, salt) and good for pocket bread sandwiches, pizza bases and kebabs. From Granville Modern Bakery, Granville NSW and available in Woolworths supermarkets.


* Victorinox all purpose knives look like steak knives, are light, sharp and make finely sliced salad easy.


Super Salad with Mighty Mayo


The secret ingredient for getting salads into kids is the mayonnaise – “tastes like lemon mousse” said one failsafer.


1 cup per person of the following finely sliced salad vegetables:





Add grated fresh beetroot and/or carrot and/or sliced snow peas (all moderate sals) if permitted.


Mix with 1 tbsp Mighty Mayo, see recipe below. Good in a salad roll or pocket bread (see hints above) with Howard’s bean paste (last newsletter) or sliced hardboiled egg.


Mighty Mayo (also known as Robin’s Dressing)


¼ cup maize cornflour

3 tsp citric acid

1 tsp sea salt

½ cup sugar

1 and ¼ cups water

2 eggs

175 ml failsafe oil


Cook together cornflour, citric acid, salt, sugar and water. When thickened, pour into blender and while whizzing add eggs and drizzle in oil. Keeps well in refrigerator for approximately two weeks. (Not safe in the US where a high percentage of raw eggs are infected with salmonella.) - Robin Fisher


Cashew Bread


Based on an old Italian recipe.

1 cup plain flour

1/2 cup caster sugar

3 egg whites

125gm raw cashew nuts


Preheat oven to 160°C. In a medium sized mixing bowl beat egg whites for 1 minute. Gradually Add sugar and beat for 2 more minutes. Fold in cashews with a large spoon. In one go add flour and gently fold in. Pour into a loaf tin that has been coated with cooking spray and bake for 30-40 minutes until cooked or when firm in the centre. Allow loaf to sit in tin for 5 minutes before turning onto a wire rack to cool. When cold wrap in foil and put in a plastic (airtight) bag for 24 hours. The next day slice thinly and bake on a flat tray in a moderate oven for about 10 minutes until dry/brown/crisp.


I use an electric slicer set to 2mm thick and get about 55 slices. The average is for 5 per day so that wouldn't exceed the daily limit for the cashew nuts. – Tracey Smith


Wedding Whip (contains dairy)


This is a recipe I had at my wedding. I have adapted it to make it failsafe. It has always been a big hit whenever we have it …


1 x 300ml thickened cream

400g vanilla yoghurt

100g white marshmallows

1 tbsp icing sugar


Beat cream until firm and peaks form. Fold in yoghurt, marshmallows and icing sugar. Cover and refrigerate for 30 minutes. Spoon into 6 serving glasses. – Tracy Stoves (Perth failsafe support group)


The FAILSAFE Newsletter: You can have this Newsletter emailed to you for free about every three 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 718 WOOLGOOLGA NSW 2456, Australia. This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. Thanks to Llewellyn Wall, Sheryl Sibley, Robin Fisher, Anne Hurman, Maya’s mother, Tracey Stoves, Nick Avery, Andra Somerville, Belinda Eighan, David Moase and the 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.