Fedup Newsletters


Newsletter of the Food Intolerance Network

January – March 2006

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.


Safety concerns regarding ADHD drugs

School canteens

Safety concerns about benzoate preservatives

How safe is mince?

Artificial colours in children’s foods


Research Sorbitol and sugar-free sweeteners


In brief: Sodium benzoate 210-213, MSG from the archives, Fluoride, Website address changes


Targeting … Benzoates 210-213

Readers' stories: [387]-[409]

Product updates:detailed help and information.

Questions: detailed help and information.

Cooks Corner: Five-minute porridge, Red cabbage, Easter chocolate for failsafers, Princess bread, Siena Easter Cake, Home-made toothpaste, Halliwell Chicken Nuggets



Hello everyone

New concerns about the safety of ADHD medication have coincided with big changes in school canteens due to the global obesity epidemic. It was a chance to improve children’s behaviour as well as overweight, but sadly, a lot more could have been done. Diet is an effective alternative to medication and could be so much easier for parents if it was supported by doctors, schools and food manufacturers. The good news is that so many parents are achieving such wonderful results as you can see in some of our eye-opening reader stories this issue – particularly the extraordinary story about depression and self harm. In many cases parents are achieving success despite the lack of help from people who are paid to care for our children’s wellbeing. Many thanks to all those who are continuing to lobby for better food, or simply voting with their dollars and buying additive free foods.

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

Safety concerns regarding ADHD drugs


Drugs used to treat ADHD may put children at risk of sudden death through heart failure or strokes, according to a panel of advisors to the US Food and Drug Administration. The panel recommended that commonly used stimulant drugs such as Ritalin and Dexamphetamine should carry the most serious level of safety warnings. The FDA responded by asking its Drug Safety and Risk Management Advisory Committee to investigate 25 reports of sudden death among people taking the drugs, 19 of them children, although it appears the FDA may reject the recommendation. In Australia, investigations by The Australian newspaper found that 400 serious adverse reactions have been reported to the Therapeutic Goods Administration, including the sudden death of a seven-year-old and a five-year-old who suffered a stroke after taking Ritalin. Child drugs linked to heart attack by Clara Pirani, 27/03/06, www.theaustralian.news.com.au; FDA may reject safety warnings for ADHD drugs, New Scientist, 18/02/06.


School canteens


Schools across Australia are noticing big changes in their canteens as the new low fat, low sugar, low salt guidelines come into operation. I am pleased that lollies have been phased out because this has resulted in a substantial decrease in artificial colours – and schools are reporting calmer children as a result. It is disappointing that lollies have been replaced by highly sulphited dried fruits and highly processed products instead of fresh natural foods. As one mother commented: ‘low salt, low sugar, low fat and let's give them every other bit of sh*t we can find to give it taste. Missed the point I'd say’. If you wanted to design a diet to cause kids asthma, it would be pretty close to what’s offering in school canteens, with more sulphites, benzoates and flavour enhancers than ever, and yes, there are still some colours around, in foods such as Rainbow icypoles.


Remember what Jamie Oliver said about chicken nuggets in Jamie’s School Dinners? Well, here’s what one failsafer found in her new, ‘healthy’ school canteen - chicken nuggets with the following ingredients: chicken (51%), flours (wheat, rice, maize), potato flakes (potato, emulsifier (471)), isolate soy protein, acidity regulator (330,450), preservative (220), salt, water, acidity regulator (450,500,451), stabiliser (481,1404,471,412,415), Vegetable oil, gluten, maltodextrin, egg albumen, dextrose, firming agent (509), cereal starches (tapioca, potato, wheat), hydrolysed vegetable protein, colour (100, 160c), dehydrated vegetables, herbs & spices, flavour (wheat, lactose) antioxidant (320) emulsifier (900). In amongst all those numbers are two particularly nasty additives and at least three hidden flavour enhancers. See our recipe below for homemade additive-free real chicken nuggets. And see our new factsheet: a Low Additive School Canteen Menu.


Safety concerns about benzoate preservatives


Even Australia has now admitted that commonly used benzoate preservatives (210-213) are reacting with ascorbic acid (Vitamin C) in soft drinks to produce cancer-causing benzene levels above WHO safe levels. The food industry has known about this for more than 15 years but have never told the public. If TV is to be believed, the Australian response will be to remove the nutrient (Vitamin C) so that the nasty preservative has nothing to react with. http://www.foodproductiondaily.com/news/ng.asp?n=66160&m=2FPD301&c=jzvifzfdcuywjqo


How safe is mince?


A NSW Food Authority survey in Oct 2004 found a whopping 58% of butchers were illegally using sulphite preservatives in their mince meat. The authority claims to have reduced this substantially through frequent monitoring but a failsafer in a regional centre last week found 400 ppm of sulphites in Woolworths mince. If you are serious about avoiding sulphites you still need to ask your butcher, or use our sulphite test strips to test it for yourself.


Artificial colours in children’s foods


In 2002 when the UK Food Commission found that nearly 40% of children’s foods contained additives, their nutritionist Annie Seeley commented ‘Now that a link between these colourings and disruptive behaviour has been proved, we should remove these additives from children's foods and drinks.' Recently in Australia, the South Australian government carried out of survey of artificial colours in foods. (Our thanks to them for making it public). Over 65% of 178 samples of fruit drinks, icecreams, cordials, soft drinks, flavoured milk, confectionery, breakfast cereals, biscuits, jams, cakes, toppings, snackfoods and jellies.were found to contain artificial colours. The biggest concern was a sample of flavoured milk which contained 63% over the legal limit of artificial yellows 102 and 110. And why do chocolate lamingtons and mud cake contain such substantial amounts of artificial colours? It is so unnecessary. See for yourself: http://www.dh.sa.gov.au/pehs/Food/report-food-colours-nov05.pdf; http://www.foodcomm.org.uk



Sorbitol and sugar-free sweeteners


More than 30 per cent of healthy adults in India and the USA developed abdominal symptoms after ingestion of sorbitol. Researchers commented ‘our results indicate that sorbitol intolerance is a potential clinical problem in a substantial number of healthy adults’. Although sugar alcohols are chemically related to sugars, they are not as sweet, don't cause tooth decay and are poorly absorbed into the blood stream. This poor absorption means they can work their way through the digestive tract, causing bloating, abdominal pain and severe diarrhoea. Children and especially babies are considered to be at greater risk, yet most parents are unaware of this. Sorbitol and other sugar alcohols or polyols are used in sugar-free chewing gum and confectionery, low joule or carbohydrate modified food including icecreams, jams and medications. Since ‘sugar-free’ is associated with ‘healthy’ a growing number of health foods and supplements contain these sweeteners. Reference: Jain NK, Patel VP, Pitchumoni CS. Sorbitol intolerance in adults. Prevalence and pathogenesis on two continents. J Clin Gastroenterol 1987;9(3):317-9; New factsheet: Sugar-free sweeteners. Please let us know if you identify a problem food or supplement.

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

Sodium benzoate 210-213: In 1990, FDA testing showed that preservative sodium benzoate (211) could break down to form a known carcinogen called benzene, in drinks which also contained ascorbic acid (vitamin C). At the time, food regulators decided to allow the beverage industry to handle the problem without negative publicity. As a result, nothing happened, manufacturers now deny knowledge of the problem, and 1500 new drinks containing this dangerous combination have been launched in the last four years. – from The benzene trail by Chris Mercer, FoodProduction.com 06/03/2006.


* MSG from the archives: Within 10 minutes of eating a soup, 10 people out of a group of 100 suffered from nervous muscle convulsions, trembling, mouth desiccation and dilatation of the pupils. The soup was found to contain glutamate as a flavour enhancer in an unusually high concentration of 31 grams per litre. Rudin O and others, Glutamic acid group poisoning. So-called Chinese restaurant syndrome. Beitr Gerichtl Med. 1989;47:69-71.


* Fluoride: Dr. Hardy Limeback is head of the Department of Preventive Dentistry for the University of Toronto. He’s also Canada's leading fluoride authority and, until recently, the country's primary promoter of the controversial additive. But Dr Limeback recently announced a dramatic change of heart. See the article and other information about fluoride compiled by the Feingold Association at http://www.feingold.org/Research/fluoride-forbes.html; Feingold studies on Fluoride Prominent researcher apologizes for pushing fluoride by Barry Forbes, The Tribune, Mesa, AZ Sunday, December 5, 1999.


* Website address changes: To make it simpler for those among us who can’t spell or type easily, the Food Intolerance Network can now be accessed at www.fedup.com.au. The spam website (set up by the food industry in America?), www.fedupwithfoodadditives.com (not .info) is now also owned by the Food Intolerance Network, thanks to legal action threatened through the USA failsafe support group. It will no longer access porn sites!

Now targeting…


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 and improvements with annatto and BHA, 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.


Thanks to all who have been targeting BHA 320 in the last six months by complaining to manufacturers. We can definitely see a difference when we do our supermarket surveys, and thanks to Vitasoy and Freedom Foods for responding so well. For the next three months, we are joining http://www.additivealert.com.au/ to target Sodium Benzoate (211), so please phone or email any manufacturers who are using this additive in a product you would otherwise buy. Failsafers often say it would be nice to be able to buy Schweppes preservative-free lemonade in cans, so contact Schweppes 1800 244 054.

Readers' stories


[409] One-liners (March 2006)

I have a son who was full on and no amount of discipline would work. We have been failsafe for two months and our lives have changed so much - this is now a happy house.

Within two months of starting the failsafe diet Lachlan's teacher came to me and said ‘Do you know, Lachlan is now one of my best writers.’ Prior to that Lachlan had been struggling through the bottom of the class, unable to grasp little things and his writing ability was appalling - almost illegible, dyslexic and with very limited vocabulary. Now he grabs a pen and a sheaf of paper and writes whole ‘books’. He learnt to play chess after one session and overall his cognitive ability has improved no end.

My son’s cousin has taken Ritalin since aged about 10, and sadly now he's 18 and in jail. He also has a heart problem …

My 5 yo son’s asthma is triggered by MSG as well as artificial colours, preservatives and flavours. If he is given a handful of lollies containing artificial colours he is usually wheezing by bedtime. Every evening I test his peak flow. When he is well he consistently presents a reading of 110. Last week when I knew he had been given some lollies (grrr) I tested his peak flow only to find it was around 60.

I have a failsafe daughter, and currently she can only buy one item from the school canteen: plain chips.

I have just started my 22 month old son on a failsafe diet and in 3 days he has transformed and I am converted!

I recently watched a pre-diet video of my boys taken 3 years ago and in it my oldest son was covered in eczema and scratching. Now, he only gets eczema if he comes into contact with an allergen - eg certain types of grass - or eats something he shouldn't.

I saw my daughter when she was 14 months old transformed in a few days of failsafe, gluten and dairy free diet from so clingy, always crying and screaming - so tense she was felt stiff - to a smiling happy little girl who played normally.


[407] My children were on an extremely healthy diet (March 2006)


After failsafeing my children we have seen a great improvement in their behaviour. My eldest daughter (nearly 5yrs) was diagnosed with ODD. She is so much happier and easier to live with since being on the diet. My youngest daughter had dry eczema on her arms that has all but disappeared. Both of my children were on what would have been considered an extremely healthy diet (fit for life) with very little junk food and loads of fruit and vegetables. They have both improved considerably over the four or five months on the diet. Thanks for the work you have done in making us aware of what really is in our food. We have tried many things to help our eldest daughter with little success and were at our wits end. Food has turned out to be a big key. Now some of the other methods we had previously tried (eg. reward charts) actually work. If we have a slip on the diet it's like a wall goes up in her mind and she can't listen anymore. – Belinda, by email


[399] Reflux medication causes ADHD symptoms and the Parkinsons shake


When my eldest child Levi started school his reflux exacerbated, so his Prepulsid prescription medication was reintroduced. A few days later he was started on Zantac prescription syrup antacid as well as he'd been complaining of heartburn symptoms. Within 3 days something was going wrong. His teacher asked me what had happened to him, he was bouncing off the walls and displaying ADHD symptoms, being loud and disruptive, his coordination plummeted and he'd lost all sense of balance (which had never been a problem in the past), he'd fall over for no apparent reason, there were times that he would behave like he was drunk or high, giggling and slouching, and his eyes would zip from side to side really quickly (I was told the medical term, I think it was nystagmus…)


To top it off, my daughter Jessica had started doing the parkinsons shake (she was still refluxing terribly and was also on both Prepulsid and Zantac syrup medications). Levi was diagnosed with a developmental condition called dyspraxia. I knew it wasn't a developmental problem as he had had great hand eye coordination prior to this happening. All of that coupled with the ADHD stuff just wasn't right. The paediatrician ordered several blood tests, a CAT scan and an EEG and everything came back clear. I remember saying to him at that stage that it had all started when the syrup antacid was introduced but I couldn't understand why it was still happening. I of course got a Tsk Tsk for pointing my finger at the medication. So I battled onwards for a couple of months. I was at my wits end, Levi's symptoms were getting worse, I resorted to ringing the drug company who manufactured the antacid and talked to one of the medics who worked in the lab. She told me that she had heard of this sort of thing happening before and that it was probably due to the alcohol or the preservatives and flavourings used in the medicine as they are really concentrated in ALL syrup medications. BINGO. - by Sandra Madden, Heathcote NSW, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. (Sandra’s children are all now medication free and their symptoms are controlled by diet, see the full, epic story on the website).


[406] Eczema from dustmite allergy (March 2006)


My 5 year old son is on a very restricted diet due to multiple food allergies and intolerances. Last year he was having eczema attacks lasting several hours, and hives breaking out without us knowing the reason, and we were almost too scared to leave the house. He was awake for 2-4 hrs every night, screaming "please help me, Mummy", and his legs were sometimes so scabbed up that he could not straighten them enough to walk. Eventually, we found the problem. We knew he was sensitive to dustmites from an allergy test by the doctor, but I had "relaxed" a little with the vigilance I had previously had. And then I realised that the whole time, he had a big tear in the dustmite cover on his mattress. I went back to using the dust mite wash from the supermarket, and washing his sheets 4 times in clear water after that, and hanging them on the line all day, every 6 wks. And washing his sheets in hot water every 3 days. And clearing his bedroom of everything except a bed, and wet-dusting once a week.


The difference was amazing. The first night, he actually slept through. And now, a year and a bit later, his legs, which were just big scabs from bum to ankle, are beautiful creamy soft smooth skin. And a much happier boy. The emotional scars are still there, and taking time to heal. We got a book about eczema by a dermatologist that discusses the emotional toll on the family, and it is so true. We also saw a dermatologist who gave us some great tips on how to care for my son's skin, which we still do now. – Melissa, Qld


[388] Blackouts from aspartame (March 2006)


I just wanted to tell you about the effects of aspartame on my insulin dependant father in-law. He has drunk at least a can of diet soft drink every day for the last 10 yrs since becoming diabetic, thinking he was doing the right thing. But about 12 months ago he started having regular blackouts every few months or so. He is 6ft 5in and a very big man so when he falls there is a lot of room for damage of some description. The last blackout on his veranda whilst sitting on a chair putting on his boots resulted in a badly dislocated shoulder with permanent damage. He no longer drinks diet drinks after I researched and found some absolutely shocking information linking aspartame to blackouts and has not had a blackout in over 12 months. Aspartame is definitely not recommended for diabetics and no-one should ingest this poison. The alarming thing is I have recently found it in salad dressing and things kids would eat. It’s also in most low fat products. - Simonne, by email [and see our new Factsheet: sugarfree sweeteners]


[405] Two years ago, I refused to give up ‘healthy’ foods (March 2006)


About two years ago, I attended one of your seminars in Christchurch, NZ. When I first entered the room, I remember seeing information on foods to avoid including broccoli, avocado and olives. I was shocked. Not only were these my son’s favourite foods but they were healthy. I listened, watched the videos and felt these were all good descriptions of my difficult boy ... but I was not stopping him from eating "healthy foods"! Two years later and Shaun (not his real name) is now 10. During this time, his behaviour at school has deteriorated and he is having a tough time. Despite being an excellent reader and achieving high maths results, he cannot spell, his writing is messy and he finds it hard to stay on task. He annoys other children and is very defiant towards teachers. At home he can be demanding, argumentative, sulky and has low motivation. Last week I remembered the book "Fed Up" I had bought and pretty much shelved. I pulled it out and was surprised that two years ago I had highlighted the symptoms for Oppositional Defiance listed on page 3. It was an exact description of Shaun. He even agreed that’s how he felt.


Shaun has now been on the elimination diet for a week. On the first day of the diet, Shaun did a homework sheet for me in 5 minutes that normally would take him 15 to complete only half with lots of moaning and groaning. His writing seemed to be better. His teacher has noticed that he has more self control, and is doing his work. Shaun says he feels happier at school. Is it possible to see behaviour improve this quickly? I am really hoping that this will work because our lives have been very stressed. – by email, NZ [this family was already additive-free, which generally leads to quicker results]


[404] 210: Cough and asthma from benzoates in cough medication (March 2006)


Since the age of two I have seen a pattern develop in my daughter Jaslyn whereby she gets a cough every time she gets a cold. If I treat her with cough medicine the cough persists and becomes chronic, sometimes lasting weeks and causing great distress. In the worst episode two years ago she developed a serous asthma type wheeze with obvious distress and difficulty breathing after drinking soft drink – which she rarely has – and taking cough medicine.


Since them we have discovered that her symptoms and cough are greatly lessened if we do nothing when she has a cold and let it take its course. What we have found for the past two winters is that now if she gets a cold she will get a cough but it will last only for one or two nights if we do not give her any cough medicine. We have a strong family history of allergies and asthma and although I was aware of avoiding sulfites and preservatives in her food I was not aware of the use of benzoates in medicines. I realise now that the benzoate preservatives in cold medicines exacerbate my daughter’s symptoms and turn her persistent cough into difficulty in breathing and asthma like symptoms. – Julie Eady


[390] Mixed depressive disorder with anxiety and obsessive ruminations including self harm due to salicylate sensitivity (March 2006)


My 6 ½ year old son, Tim (not his real name) is currently undergoing investigation of mixed depressive disorder with anxiety and obsessive ruminations. We have used the failsafe diet in the past with one of our other children, but had not ever thought of foods being linked to Tim’s mood problems. When you mention the “gifted and depressed” child in your recent talk my ears immediately pricked up and took note. Tim has been identified as highly gifted and everyone has been saying that is the cause of his problems but I have always felt there was something else underlying that was contributing. We will be contacting our GP today and hopefully starting the failsafe diet ASAP…


Two months later …


Since starting the elimination diet Tim has not self harmed once! He is much calmer and has noticed this in himself. He no longer seems to be as restless and has been falling asleep easily at a reasonable time in the evenings. We started with the salicylates challenge this week and there seemed to be no reaction, until day 5/6 when we started to notice his behaviour was getting worse. We will stop this challenge tonight and wait to try some other groups. His GP and Clinical Psychologist are both thrilled with the change as are well!


One week later ….


After I emailed you we finally had the BIG reaction we were looking for. It happened on Day 7 of the salicylate challenge - we had already stopped the challenge that morning. Tim went to bed as normal then began to write swear words all over his bed, his sheets and his body. ("I was angry with you because I couldn't fall asleep") This is the behaviour and obsessive ruminations this poor boy was experiencing on a daily basis before the elimination diet, which we have not seen until this challenge.– by email.


[387] HHT (Hereditary hemorrhagic telangiectasia) and a low salicylate diet (March 2006)


Our family has been largely failsafe for the past couple of years due to our daughter’s behaviour, but an added side benefit seems to have emerged. My husband has a rare disorder called Hereditary Hemorrhagic Telangiectasia (HHT) which causes his capillaries to balloon and bleed easily. His blood count is always very low and like all HHT sufferers, nosebleeds have always been part of his life. He has had far fewer nosebleeds since he's avoided salicylates and that's the only change that he's made. I wonder if it could be that the lack of salicylates decrease the bleeding? He can't ever take aspirin, so I suppose it makes sense, but if my suspicions are correct, then other HHT sufferers might benefit as well. I would think that it's worth investigating and I will certainly share it with anyone who is interested or concerned. – Chris, NSW(This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.) [and see our new Factsheet HHT and salicylates]



[403] 210: Benzoates are his worst enemy (March 2006)


My 4.5yr old son has been our biggest challenge. All his problems are proving to be food related – it’s amazing. His issues are aggression, ODD, poor impulse control, argumentative, continual congestion and ear infections (2 lots of grommets), continual rashes, blotches, sore tummies, burning anus, bloating, bedwetting etc, all of which are being controlled now by diet. We had been giving him decongestants, antihistamines, nasal sprays and antibiotics since the day I stopped breastfeeding him at 6 months ... He was a wild little boy but we've now found out that benzoates are his worst enemy. His nose his dry now and needs no medication. – by email, NSW


[402] Changing diet has done more than giving away the cigarettes for breathing problem (March 2006)


I exchanged a few emails with you early last year in regards to a breathing problem I've had since my early teens (I'm 41 now) and thanks to your information on how to watch out for certain foods my life is MUCH improved. I have been weight training since my late teens and have picked up quite a bit of knowledge on nutrition along the way but looking deeper into foods containing preservatives, sulphites etc has opened my eyes to a whole different side of eating. As an ex-smoker I always put my problem down to that but limiting my intake of mince meat, prawns, pizza, processed meats etc. to a very small percentage of my diet has done more for me than giving away the cigarettes. – Richie, Vic


[401] 635: My two year hell from 635 (March 2006)

I would like to share my personal story of hell from eating flavor enhancer 635. I have been suffering from a maddening itch and rash for over two years now, and I am quite sure that I would still be suffering from it had I not found your website. I am a 33-year old American female, and I moved to Australia just over two years ago. At that time I was riding my push-bike up the east coast of Australia, from Byron Bay to Cairns. Somewhere around Gladstone, I started to break out in the itchiest hive-rash I have ever had in my entire life. Naturally at first I thought it was heat rash which I have had before while cycling in other countries, so I bought some prickly heat remedy. In the past that has always worked, but this time it didn’t. The rash just itched and itched to the point where I scratched the skin off, and I just wanted to rip off my flesh. Everyone told me it was stress from the cycling and heat, and I believed them. When I stopped cycling, I went to Sydney mainly because it was winter there and I so desperately wanted the rash to calm down but it got worse. I would wake up at night scratching, and my eyes often swelled up, I had heart palpitations, fever-like symptoms, and occasionally I would wake up with huge bruises as well. Hot showers would always make it worse. I tried every cream on the market, but the only thing that worked was calamine lotion. I thought I was dying. The itching was absolutely maddening. see the rest of this fascinating story on the website – Jennifer Thomson , Qld


[400] Amine-related migraines since the age of 3 (March 2006)


My 7 year old daughter Caitlin (not her real name) has had migraines since she was about 3 years old. We had no idea what they were for several years. She usually gets a fever with her migraines and because of the fever the doctor would always put it down to a virus, prescribing painkillers. I would often give her panadol for 4 days straight just to keep the headaches at bay. She goes limp and listless, her eyes always droop, she lies there and sleeps for hours until the panadol wears off and then then the pain and fever return. Most times she will scream and cry, grabbing her forehead and pleading with me to take the pain away, “Mummmy Mummy my heads hurts, please stop it.” She has always complained of feeling sick (nausea) when she gets them too, and ‘sore legs’. As well, she has had problems with nasal congestion and had been using Rhinocourt nasal spray daily. She has always been a nail biter & a teeth grinder at night.


One year after she started getting the migraines,we were referred to a pediatrician who could find no medical reason for them either. He thought it may have been an attention grabber or perhaps the start of a cold. The migraines continued on and off with no regular pattern that I could work out, once a week, then maybe another in 6 weeks times, then 2 months… Read the rest of this story on the website – by email, NSW


[398] Irritable bowel and weight problems at age 23

In 1997 at age 19, I developed an itchy, burning rash under my nose. For the next six years, I went to doctors, naturopaths, homoeopaths, meditation and relaxation. Nothing worked and no-one could tell me why it was there and what it was. In 2001 I gave up smoking and went through a lot in my life while living overseas and in 6 months went from 55kg to 72 kg. I started getting bowel problems (flatulence, constipation, cramps and diarrhea) and no matter what I tried I could not lose the weight …Read the rest of this story on the website – by email, ACT

[408] Hyperactivity, bad mood swings, violent behaviour (March 2006)

My 9 year old nephew 'suffered' from super hyperactivity and very bad mood swings for most of his life which was very stressful for all his 3.5 school years. His violent behaviour, which only ever occurred at school, included pushing over desks, tearing up paper, pulling phone connections out of walls, pulling plants out of the garden and hurting a teacher when being restrained. They would ring his Dad to come and take him home. He visited many medical specialists, was finally diagnosed ADHD and prescribed adult doses of drugs with no improvement.

Over the last six months he has been failsafe while being homeschooled and there was an incredible difference within two weeks. In four months he covered nearly 12 months school work and is improving rapidly. He has always been quick to lose his temper at home with his brother and sister but since he started on the diet we have not seen him angry. He actually had his head slammed in a car door recently by his sister's friend. It must have really hurt and his eyes watered but his response was "It wasn't your fault, Poppy". We were all amazed. He is now a healthy, happy little boy with a great sense of humour. It is frustrating to say the least that so much of the trauma this little boy and his family went through was to do with food additives. by email, Qld

MORE READERS' STORIES on the website [387]-[409]

Product updates

Freedom Foods soy butter: Any stock with a useby date after March 07 now contains natural Vitamin E instead of BHA(320) as antioxidant in the oil. Thanks to Freedom Foods for taking us seriously. They are also removing BHA from other products.

Vitasoy rice milk: BHA-free sunflower oil is being used in the Protein Enriched Ricemilk with a best before date 09/03/07. The Original Ricemilk, and soymilks (Creamy Original, Vitality + and Calci-Plus) will be changed over within 12 weeks, with best by dates to be advised. Thanks to Nicole Avery and all others who wrote for lobbying hard and to Vitasoy Australia for responding positively. Note that protein enriched (with chickpeas) ricemilk is not suitable for anyone with cross reactivity due to nut, legume or soy allergies, and that ricemilk is not suitable for infant feeding. Any infant not breastfed to 12 months must be given appropriate infant formula; prescription formulas are only for the baby for whom the script was written.

Failsafe lollies: CORRECTION - Sam Tinsley’s lollipops, honeycomb, new sherberts and fruit drops are available from www.sweettreats.com.au (not .com as previously listed).

Sunblock: preservative free Megan Gale invisible zinc is available from health food stores, David Jones or by mail order http://www.adorebeauty.com.au/invisible-zinc.html

Failsafe sausages: Butcher in Brisbane for preservative free meats (including chicken) and happy to make up fresh "failsafe" sausages: Pinelands Quality Meats (Prop. Gavin and Melissa Argery), Shop 31, Centro Pinelands Shopping Centre, Cnr Beenleigh & Pinelands Rd, Sunnybank, Ph/Fax 07 3345 2027. Sausages are available in 5kg lots and above.– thanks to Leanne Myles

**WARNING** Plain sakata rice crackers are technically failsafe, but many of the failsafe groups reported that a few sakatas are OK on rare occasions, but any more and reactions occur, no-one knows why because the ingredients all look safe.

Meat: note that all meat in supermarkets like Coles and Woolworths is now cryovacced and you have to ask your local butcher about fresh meat. The safest meat for amine responders is often chemical free or organic chickens.

Gelatine: Sulphite-free substitute for gelatine: agar agar – thanks to Llewellyn Wall

Milk: Paul’s unhomogenised organic milk is receiving mixed reports. Remember that the symptoms of food intolerance can change with age, so if your child has been avoiding cows’ milk for several years and you trial milk again, the symptoms might come out in a different way (eg previously eczema, now learning difficulties).

Preservative-free wines, both red and white available from Happs, www.happs.com.au. Not suitable for salicylate and amine responders, but excellent if you are avoiding sulphites.

Shampoos and cleaning: we all use Melrose Everyday shampoo and conditioner base, I also have the Sabco One Wipe mitts for cleaning (you just use water). – thanks to Llewellyn Wall


Household cleaners: for dishwashing powders, Herbon brand of dishwashing powder (from health food stores) is well tolerated by some exquisitely sensitive kids and Finish is the next best. Enjo cleaning products just use the cloth and water - no chemicals whatsoever. http://www.enjo.com.au thanks to Susie Moen

Organic cotton futons and mattresses (with absolutely no smell) as well as bedlinen, towels, clothing, underwear, menstrual pads and others from Blessed Earth Organic Cotton Essentials who offer a 10% discount for Food Intolerance Network members, ph: 03 9754 4880, www.blessedearth.com.au

Kitchen gadget: cooking of whole food as quick and easy as possible. It is state of the art German technology and has to be seen to believed: www.thermomix.com.au - Maureen Connolly

Potato crisps/chips. UPDATE 24/11/2006 As well as Kettle and Colvan, there are now many more brands of plain chips without antioxidants, eg Lays. There have been some reports of reactions possibly due to contamination from other flavours on the line. Smiths say their oil does not have any anti-oxidants or chemical additives added to it after production. However we have now received so many negative reports about Smiths products that they should be approached with caution. A typical comment: 'After reading on your website that Smiths crisps were failsafe I bought some for my children I just thought I would let you know that they were loud, irritable, extremely hyperactive and aggressive for four days although I have no idea what set them off all I know is that it was those crisps. They only had a small bowl each and the crisps were the only thing different that they had.' We have also received reports of reactions to palmolein (in a number of products) and to Kettle chips, and would like more feedback (This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.).

Frozen chips Logan Farm Guilt-Free Fries in crinkle cut and straight versions are failsafe. All McCains frozen potato products contain unlisted BHA and are not failsafe.

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


Your questions

Q. I was wondering if the product from Healtheries Kids Care Rice Wheels are failsafe - in the ingredients list it includes something stated as Barbecue flavour (natural and nature identical flavouring substances). I wondered if this was an attempt to hide anything sinister.

A. As journalist Eric Schlosser says in his book Fast Food Nation, ‘Natural and artificial flavours are now manufactured at the same chemical plants …calling any of these flavours “natural” requires a flexible attitude’. The ingredients in added flavours don’t have to be listed because they are trade secrets. Under the 5% labeling loophole, flavours can contain unlisted artificial colours and preservatives, so I suppose the word ’natural’ protects you from those but you can work out what barbecue flavour might contain from a barbecue sauce recipe: tomato soup, tomato sauce, molasses, vinegar, onion, seasoned salt, mustard, Worcestershire sauce, orange or lemon zest, paprika, pepper. So it doesn't matter whether it's natural or artificial - it's NOT failsafe.

Q. Is there anywhere to get soft canned pears? Lately they’ve been like rocks.

A. In my experience, it is always worth complaining - politely at first - about a specific product to the manufacturer, telling them exactly what is wrong and giving them the product code, useby date etc. I wrote to Great Lakes complaining about their hard pears (This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.) and quoting the all the numbers on the bottom of the can. I received a very friendly letter explaining that they have been using a snow pear variety that is crunchier than the traditional Bartlett variety but they won’t do it again, and sending a $5 cheque for the inconvenience.

Q. Just wondering if you can tell me what foods are most likely to affect speech especially stuttering?

A. It depends on the child. For some children, the answer can be avoidance of one or two additives such as nitrates in ham, benzoates in drinks or the bread preservative. Other children may need to do the full elimination diet. See our new factsheet on stuttering and other speech anomalies, including speech delay, loud voice, vocal tics and silly noises.

Q. I believe that my niece has mild autism that is food related, I've talked to her parents but as they say you can lead a horse to water but you can't make it drink.

A. The easiest dietary changes you can recommend are to switch to a2 milk (see www.a2australia.com.au); preservative free bread from Brumbys or Bakers Delight; drink water instead of juice and cordial; and avoid artificial colours in lollies by switching to Werthers Originals. Some children improve so much just by doing this that families are then prepared to try the full diet.

Q. I saw Velcorin listed on a fruit juice label. Is it a safe additive?

A. Velcorin is a new antimicrobial agent chemically known as Dimethyl dicarbonate (DMDC). It is used for the cold sterilisation of non-alcoholic beverages and can reduce the need for nasty preservatives such as sodium benzoate (211) or sodium metabisulphite (223). Once added to the product, Velcorin breaks down quickly into small amounts of carbon dioxide and methanol, which occur naturally in most beverages, including fruit juice. It is too early for us to be sure, but it seems highly likely that Velcorin will NOT cause children’s behaviour, learning problems and other symptoms of food intolerance. (Failsafers will still have to consider natural salicylates and amines in the juice itself). More information about natural food additives including natural colours from www.victus.com.au

Q. Are Ingham’s ‘Lite Chicken Breast Nuggets’ failsafe? Ingredients: Chicken (Minimum 56%), Flour (Wheat, Maize, Rice), Salt, Water, Wheat Starch, Whey Protein Concentrate, Thickener (1400), Vegetable Oil, Vegetable Gum (412), Sugar, Mineral Salts (451), Bakers Yeast, Ground Spice. (97% fat free, no artificial colours, flavours or preservatives, cost $6.69 for 13 nuggets at Coles)

A. Although the label says ‘no colours, flavours or preservatives’ there could be unlisted BHA 320 or TBHQ 319 in the vegetable oil, the ground spices are a source of salicylates, and as far as we can work out the Bakers Yeast in a non-bread product is probably there as a natural source of nucleotide flavour enhancers otherwise known as 635. Not recommended, see our recipe for homemade nuggets below.

Around the groups: getting in touch


Which is more difficult to live with - food allergy or food intolerance and why? We are particularly interested to hear from mothers of children with anaphylaxis.


Failsafe help needed Mornington Pensinsula - Sue Dengate will be speaking to parents and students of 25 Mornington Peninsula schools in May. Are there any failsafers in that area willing to talk to the local press about how changing their child's diet has improved their quality of life? Please email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or Valerie: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Reporting Drug reactions

The Adverse Events Medications Hotline will cease to exist from June, due to lack of funding. You can contact your State MP and request that funding be continued. After this closure, the Adverse Drug Reactions Advisory Committee can be contacted with reports of reactions. Although this is technically not their role, they are apparently very concerned about the situation and will take note of any reports. Phone ADRAC: 1800 044 114. Until June you can phone the Adverse Medications Event hotline (1300 134 237). Remember they will take reports of behavioural or asthmatic reactions to colours, preservatives and flavours in antibiotics, painkillers and cough medicines etc. - thanks to Kathleen Daalmeyer

Preservative-free bread in Pretoria, South Africa: does anyone know where to get it? (contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.)

Student for a Diploma in Children’s services in interested in the effects of foods on children’s behaviour and would like to interview or survey parents of children on restricted diets, contact Naomi: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

RMIT diet study welcomes children aged 5-12 with behavioural problems in Melbourne, see details in the last newsletter or email for more information: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Getting in touch My eldest son aged 6 has autism. I am trying the failsafe diet with him and appear to be achieving some success, although slowly. I would like to contact other families who have tried the diet with autistic children in my area. I live in Yanchep, north of Perth, WA. – Julia (contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.)


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.

There is a newly started Melbourne support group, finM. For details contact Jenny: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or to subscribe This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


MAY 2006

Mornington Peninsula VIC Monday 1- Thursday 4 May 2006 7-9pm: ‘Fed Up With Children’s Behaviour’ by Sue Dengate at Secondary Senior Colleges on the Peninsula. No charge, all welcome. Enquiries and central bookings 03 5975 6955.

Leongatha VIC Monday 8 May 2006 7-9pm: ‘Fed Up With Children’s Behaviour’ by Sue Dengate, Dakers (Senior Citizens) Centre, Cnr Watt and Smith Street, Leongatha. $10.00 per head, or $10.00 for two family members. For registration or information contact Milpara Community House 03 5655 2524, 03 5658 1375, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


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

Oats and rhubarb are the new health foods in Britain where value sales of oats have increased a massive 80 per cent in the last five years and rhubarb has become the number one vegetable in terms of sales. Porridge and oatmeal have become popular in cafes and sandwich shops as well as homes and rhubarb is also being championed as a way of reducing cholesterol levels and slimming. The trend is thought to be due to the naturally low GI (glycemic index) of oats and rhubarb as science shows that low-GI foods can help to control weight. Oats are failsafe (but not suitable for coeliacs unless certified gluten free); rhubarb is moderate in salicylates, so can be fitted into your diet after challenges.

Five-minute porridge

1/2 cup rolled oats (regular is best but quick cook are also good) per person

1 cup water per person

Place oats in a small saucepan with cold water and bring to the boil. Stir briefly until mixture thickens. Serve with light brown sugar and A2 milk; or pear and yoghurt; or sliced bananas (contain amines, not suitable for your strict elimination diet) or stewed rhubarb (contain moderate salicylates, not suitable for your strict elimination diet).

Red cabbage

Red cabbage could cut Alzehimer’s risk according to researchers from Cornell University where red cabbage was found to reduce the build-up of certain plaques in the brain that could cause Alzheimers disease. The protective chemicals were 6-8 times higher in red than white cabbages. Cabbage is failsafe and red cabbage can be served in fine slices added to other failsafe salad vegetables.

Easter chocolate for failsafers

When considering Easter for failsafers, remember that white chocolate is very low in amines and sometimes amine free compared to milk chocolate, and dark chocolate is highest of all. Carob Easter eggs are available in many stores but note that soy carob versions are not suitable for children with extreme dairy allergies due to line contamination. Children who are salicylate but not sensitive are often affected by added flavours - or is it colours hidden in the flavours under the 5 per cent labelling loophole? - in many popular brands of dairy milk chocolate. Kinnerton special nut free chocolates and Easter eggs seem to be better tolerated by food intolerant kids - not counting amine responders - and are widely available is available from supermarkets see www.kinnerton.com.au. Willow Confectionery in Melbourne does a nut free additive free brand of chocolate available in white chocolate as well as dark or milk, with Easter novelties as well. Available at Health Watch Foods in Ormond and also selected pharmacists in Victoria and NSW as well as some Blockbuster Video Stores and online orders: (discontinued)

Princess bread

For parties, this is an alternative to fairy bread

2 drops of cochineal with one cup of sugar in jar with lid, toss until all sugar is coloured, spread on buttered bread - thanks to Kylie Dallow

Siena Easter Cake

This is a low salicylate version of the traditional schiacciata di pasqua di Siena, a plain yeast cake, perfect with milk coffee, cocoa or barley coffee. The original also contains soaked seeds of anise and a little olive oil, and instead of whisky a special liqueur, rosolio di menta, available from a shop in Siena. The savarin version contains vanilla instead of liqueur/whisky and butter instead of lard. If made with lard, the cake has a special coarse consistency.

500 g flour

200 g sugar

25 g fresh yeast

half cup lukewarm milk

3 eggs

100 g butter or lard

half glass whisky (alcohol will evaporate during cooking)

Weigh flour and sugar into warm mixing bowl. Dissolve yeast in warm milk and place in well in flour. Leave in warm place until yeast becomes bubbly. Begin to stir yeast, making a ball in the flour. Add eggs one by one. Knead for 10 min until dough is elastic. Consistency is more like cake batter than bread dough. Place lard in pieces on top and cover; set aside in warm place until dough doubles in size. Beat the dough down and work until the lard is incorporated, then add whisky. Consistency is now very slippery and viscous. Grease a round tin (say 25 cm diameter) of sufficient size that the dough comes half way up the side. Tie an oven paper band around the top in case the dough rises over the top. Place in warm place to double in size.

Preheat oven to 170 deg. C (with fan) cook for 10 min (or until brown) then reduce temperature to 155 deg. C (with fan) for another 25 minutes. Cool in tin.

Buon appetito! - grazie to Helen from Siena, Italy

Home-made toothpaste

Mix 3 parts baking soda with 1 part salt.

Add 3 teaspoons of glycerol/glycerine to each quarter cup of dry mixture. – thanks to Canterbury group, NZ

Halliwell Chicken Nuggets

Kids love these and they are great cold as finger food in lunchboxes.

500 g chicken breasts or thighs, cut into nugget shapes (easier to do when chicken is half frozen)

1 clove garlic, crushed

sea salt to taste

plain flour

or gluten-free mix of cornflour and brown rice flour for coating

failsafe oil

Mix chicken with garlic and salt and let stand for about 30 minutes. Roll chicken pieces in flour until all are coated then freeze for 15 minutes to make flour stick better. Shallow fry in failsafe oil until crisp and golden brown. Or for a low fat alternative: place chicken pieces in a bowl and stir with stir with salt and flour until well coated. Then stir with enough oil to make sure all pieces are coated. Bake in a preheated 180°C oven for 1 hour. Serve with Logan Farm oven fry chips (the only ones we know of without hidden BHA 320) and green beans, or in a failsafe burger roll with salad – Deborah Halliwell


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 Maureen Connolly, Belinda O’Connor, Leanne Myles, Susie Moen, Deborah Halliwell, Leigh Boggis, Raithe Handiman, Erl Happ, Tina Standish, Amanda Beck, Elana Traurig, Anne Hurman, Brenda Hunting, Robin Fisher, Jenny Ravlic, Jenny Saal, Alison D’Adam, Nicole Avery, Llewellyn Wall and all others who have shared information, stories, recipes, hints or lobbied hard to regain sanity in our food supply.

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.