Fedup Newsletters


Newsletter of the Food Intolerance Network

April – June 2007

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.


To see this FAILSAFE Newsletter in colour on the web: FAILsaf52.html

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.


Kids and chocolate

Nestles myth the point



Research Alopecia areata and gluten, Getting vegetables into children, Chicken soup really is good for you, Benefits of psyllium, Oats in gluten-free diets


In brief: Ribena and no vitamin C, The food industry pyramid, Additive wars, Eating beef in pregnancy


Targeting… Misleading advertising

Readers' stories: [547] - [565]

Product updates:detailed help and information.

Questions: detailed help and information.

Cooks Corner: Hints: mini crumpets, pear jam, Failsafe sports drink, Homemade butter, Buttermilk scones, Chokos with Home-made butter, Chicken soup for colds and flu, Yummy biscuits



Hello everyone

We have just returned from two months in a fascinating area of Nepal where people still eat as they have for centuries, see my report in Food additives in Nepal. Our big news is that the new edition of the Failsafe Cookbook is now in bookstores, at last … thank you for your patience, and thanks to all who have written with comments such as Leanne’s “It's the best thirty dollars I think I've ever spent on health”. Thanks also to Howard who co-authored this edition (it was a huge amount of work), although we couldn’t put his name on the cover due to publishing rules.

After Easter, many failsafers wrote with comments such as “I can't wait to get rid of all the chocolate in my house because my children are ‘crazy’ even as I am typing this”, demonstrating once again the gap between what mothers experience and what passes for ‘science’ in psychology journals, see lead story. But news about additives is spreading: in March, Julie Eady of Additive Alert was announced winner of the WA Consumer Protection Awards - congratulations, Julie!

Among the many remarkable readers' stories in this newsletter, some are particularly powerful: Wayne’s report about anxiety and flavour enhancers, the sad story of a colostomy for an 11-month-old due to undiagnosed salicylate sensitivity, and ‘Giving up the victim role’ about learning to live without salicylates. Also in this issue, there’s a new page for kids, thanks to Rachel, aged 10, and some interesting recipes - who would have thought making butter could be so much fun - and so delicious?

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

Kids and chocolate


A Macquarie University (Sydney) study on chocolate and preschoolers has been widely interpreted to mean that chocolate and other foods don’t make kids hyperactive. But is that really what researchers found? Altogether, 26 preschoolers from 3 preschools were videotaped for just 7 minutes, half an hour after they ate sultanas or Freddo frogs, and no change was seen in their behaviour. The researchers assumed that any effects would be due to sugar, and didn’t mention amines.


We agree with them that sugar doesn’t affect children’s behaviour. But anyone who knows anything about the effects of amines in chocolate understands that reactions are usually delayed. “I’d bet my bottom dollar that some of those kids responded to the chocolate a day or two later” commented one failsafer. And another thing: the researchers assumed that sultanas were a ‘healthy’ food that wouldn’t affect children’s behaviour. Didn’t they find out anything about food intolerance before they started? Sultanas are high in both salicylates and amines, so are likely to affect more children behaviourally than chocolate, but again you’re unlikely to see any reaction within the first 40 minutes. There is no way that the results of this study could lead to the recommendation “don’t blame those Easter eggs for kids behaving badly”, as reported by dietitian Nicole Senior in the April Super Food Ideas magazine. For an indepth critique of the study 


Nestles myth the point


And while we are on the topic of bad science, reading through the Myth Busters page on the Nestle website, an NT reader came across the following:


“Sugar makes kids hyperactive - FALSE - Does your child come home from birthday parties bouncing off the walls? Do you think it’s all the sugar in the party food? It’s actually not the party food. The reason they’re hyped-up is more likely due to all of the excitement and activity at the party rather than the sugar in the party food. Studies have shown no direct link between consumption of sugary foods and increased hyperactivity in children …”.


While we agree that sugar is not associated with hyperactivity, we hate the way anyone associated with the food industry slides easily from the sugar conclusion to the sugary foods conclusion, which is not the same thing at all. “Gee, it wouldn't have anything to do with the added colouring, flavouring and preservatives that manufacturers pile into kids’ party foods would it ?!!!” asked our reader.




The Food Intolerance Network website has now received over one million page-visits. The interesting thing is that while most visitors are from Australia, New Zealand, USA, UK, Canada and Japan, in just three days there were also visits from Turkey, Ghana, Iceland, Thailand, South Africa, Denmark and Singapore. Like the Western diet, this is truly an international problem. We want volunteers to help get the Food Intolerance Network brochure translated into multiple languages (see Around the Groups below) and have made a start with one in Nepali http://fedup.com.au/information/support/food-intolerance-brochures




* Alopecia areata and gluten The connection between Alopecia areata (patchy baldness) and gluten was first reported in 1995. Since then there have been many more reports although many doctors in Australia don’t seem to have heard of it. Corazza GR, Celiac disease and alopecia areata: report of a new association, Gastroenterology, 1995;109(4):1333-7. See http://fedup.com.au/factsheets/symptom-factsheets/alopecia-areata-patchy-baldness


* Getting vegetables into children Preschoolers who work in a vegetable garden may change their attitude to vegetables, a study from Texas suggests. The researchers asked 22 children aged four and five to garden for 30 minutes per week. The children planted four types of vegetables including green beans, then watered, weeded and helped with composting every week. After eight weeks, the children became less likely to refuse the types of vegetables they had grown, and ranked green beans higher in order of preference than they had at the beginning of the study. Lorenz S and others, 85th Annual Meeting of the American Dietetic Association October 25, 2002. In the Southern hemisphere, now is a good time to plant Brussels sprouts. See our new Failsafe gardening factsheet.


* Chicken soup really is good for you In laboratory tests, home-made chicken soup was found to reduce the migration of neutrophils, white blood cells that can trigger inflammation, possibly explaining why chicken soup is a traditional remedy for coughs and colds. The team also tested commercial soups and found ‘variable effects’. Rennard BO and others, Chicken soup inhibits neutrophil chemotaxis in vitro, Chest, 2000;118:1150-1157, see the full study at http://journal.publications.chestnet.org/article.aspx?articleid=1079188, and laboratory-tested recipe in Cooks Corner below.


* Benefits of psyllium Psyllium, also known as ispaghula, has been used as a traditional medicine for centuries in India where it is called fleaseed (sat isabgol). In the last few decades western researchers have shown that this fibre supplement is useful for constipation, diarrhoea, haemorrhoids, anal fissures, irritable bowel syndrome, inflammatory bowel disease, ulcerative colitis and recurrent diverticulitis; as an aid for weight control; for reducing high blood pressure and cholesterol levels; and for regulation of glucose control in diabetic patients. Singh B, Psyllium as a therapeutic and drug delivery agent, Int J Pharm. 2007;4;334(1-2):1-14. Psyllium husks are failsafe when additive-free, see Product Updates below. Some people may be allergic to psyllium.

* Oats in gluten-free diets A new review in the UK showed that in 10 studies involving 165 coeliacs, only 1 patient was shown to have histological damage as a result of consuming oats. The authors concluded that previous conflicting results may have been partly due to contamination of oats by wheat. They recommended that coeliacs should only add oats to their gluten-free diet when they are established on a conventional gluten-free diet, and stop eating oats if they develop any symptoms. More at Garsed K, Scott BB, Can oats be taken in a gluten-free diet? A systematic review, Scand J Gastroenterol. 2007;42(2):171-8. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/entrez/query.fcgi?db=pubmed&cmd=Retrieve&dopt=AbstractPlus&list_uids=17327936&query_hl=7&itool=pubmed_docsum

See a new brand of contamination free oats in Australia under Product Updates below.


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


* Ribena and no vitamin C Pharmaceutical giant GlaxoSmithKlein has been fined for misleading advertising after two 14-year-old schoolgirls found its popular Ribena drink contained almost no vitamin C. The case came after the New Zealand high school science students tested the children's drink against advertising claims that "the blackcurrants in Ribena have four times the vitamin C of oranges" in 2004. Instead, the two found the syrup-based drink contained almost no trace of vitamin C. GSK has blamed variability of nutrients in blackcurrents sourced for the Australian and New Zealand version of the drink which has been selling for 55 years and is now available in 22 countries. The company which risked potential fines of up to $NZ3 million ($2.65 million) must be laughing all the way to the bank since the court handed down a tiny $NZ217,000 fine with instructions to print correctional advertising. More details:



* The food industry pyramid Blogger Dailydave (www.dailydave.com.au) investigates the Maggi “simple goodness NO ARTIFICAL colours or flavours” claim and the real meaning of the DAA (Dietitians Association of Australia) logo on the Nestle website in an entertaining article ‘Food industry lobby groups and ineffectual governance’. Well worth reading! http://www.dailydave.com.au/viewarticle.php?postid=790


* Additive wars If you missed Susie O’Brien’s The Wholesome Truth in the Herald Sun 8/4/07, see

http://www.news.com.au/heraldsun/story/0,21985,21516049-662,00.html and the following opinion piece by Robyn Riley that riled some failsafers: Additive Anger http://www.news.com.au/heraldsun/story/0,21985,21520434-5000112,00.html. Thanks to the reader who emailed Robyn, suggesting that she direct her anger towards the food industry.


* Eating beef in pregnancy has been linked to reduced sperm counts in adult sons In a study of 387 fertile partners of pregnant women, men whose mothers reported eating more than seven beef meals a week while pregnant had a sperm concentration more than 24% lower than sons of low-beef consuming mothers. The team suggested that hormones used to fatten feedlot beef may be responsible. Swan SH, et al "Semen quality of fertile US males in relation to their mothers' beef consumption during pregnancy" Hum Reprod 2007;.doi:10.1093/humrep/dem068. http://www.medscape.com/viewarticle/559233. Although Hormonal growth promotants (HGP) were banned in the EU in 1988, they are widely used in feedlot beef in the US and in Australia in all states except Tasmania, in beef cattle but in no other species. Note that “grain-fed” means feedlot. Free-range grass-fed beef is most likely hormone-free.


Now targetting Misleading advertising on packets


This 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 hit a different target each newsletter.


Dave’s story: I sat down to my keyboard yesterday and knocked out what I thought was an earth shattering piece on the misleading advertising by the people at Maggi/Nestle regarding their 'simple goodness - no artificial colours or flavours' claim. I duly placed the article on the front page of my site but it seems, after having a good look through your site tonight that I'm a few kicks behind the game! I'm the father of a son aged six and a daughter aged two. Our stories aren't perhaps so extreme as some who contribute to your site - we suffer headaches and different aches and pains and can now attach those reactions to certain numbers and avoid them, but it's the children in whom we've noticed it most. I'll never forget our son, unbeknownst to us, hooking into Cheezels at a cousin's birthday party when he was two. He broke out in these orange, angry looking welts all over his body that were itchy and horrible. I won't even begin to discuss colour, content, consistency and odour when the back end came into play later that evening! I am constantly amazed at what the regulators will let these corporations get away with. It angers and astonishes me. Keep up the great work- Dave (see Dave’s entertaining blog at www.dailydave.com.au)


We have received numerous similar complaints from consumers who feel the Maggi “simple goodness – no artificial colours or flavours” claim is misleading. Technically, it’s legal because flavour enhancers aren’t flavours and are considered to be natural. However, if consumers say they have been misled into thinking the food is free of nasty additives, then surely it is misleading.

So we now ask you to email the Australian Consumers Association (This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. – for more details see www.choice.com.au) about this issue. Please include your own story of family reactions to additives in general or flavour enhancers in particular.


Readers' stories


Stories [563] and [564] share the Courage Award for this Newsletter, with the prizes being a copy of the DVD “Fed Up with Children’s Behaviour” or “The Failsafe Cookbook”.


[565] One-liners (May 2007)


I sooo appreciate what you are doing - people are starting to believe me that I have a problem and it is not in my head, and many of my friends now make a special effort to provide at least some food that is safe for me to eat – email, NZ.


I took my 4-year-old daughter off all additives, preservatives and colours. In one week she has had a dramatic reduction of mostly myoclonic type seizures, down from her usual 2 - 40 throughout each day before" – Karen.


Since going failsafe our daughter has changed her afterschool activity on Fridays: instead of having a therapy session with the Institute for Learning Difficulties, she is now attending a gifted and talented program – by email.


I have so far not visited any internet sites which have enlightened me as much as yours - thank you! – by email.


We are in the process of learning all new foods and additives in the US - surprisingly and disappointingly, it is not as advanced as Australia when it comes to gluten-free foods and awareness of additives, preservatives etc. – Australians visiting the USA.


My kids have some classic signs of food intolerance - tantrums for one and "sads" for the other. – by email.


Salicylates make me wired, pee a lot and cause dark circles under my eyes; amines make me very angry and I wake up with palpitations and sweats – email, USA.


The information on your website is fantastic and it's great to have support networks provided - it makes you feel like you're not the only one looking for answers! – email, Qld.


My sons aged 9 and 4 – now additive free - both had croup in the last week and the younger one even had a cold as well but neither of them had asthma which is unusual for them. – Kylie


We just had our Tu Beshvat holiday (New Year of the Trees), ate a good bit of dried fruit, and guess what? - more headaches, asthmatic spasms, gut in an uproar, and the boys nervier – by email.


Thank you for all you have done - you have changed, and possibly saved, many lives – email, US.


I am a mom of two and have found your book a delight - my four-year-old has improved so much since we started cutting out things in her diet. – by email.


Thank you for giving us hope. – email, UK


When buying foods I have a problem trying to read the small print (even with new glasses!) - I would love to see these written bigger! – by email.


I have an active son, who reacts to food, although like you thought at first it was sugar. I have told so many people about your books, and how it has benefitted our family - and we don't do the whole thing, just some eliminations and awareness.- Cassie.


Thank you for your book Fed Up, which I just happened to stumble across at a friend’s house, it has changed our lives and I am now frequently referring to your website - Jane.

[564] 635: “An attack of 635”: anxiety, racing heart, headaches, rash (May 2007) SHARED COURAGE AWARD STORY FOR MAY 2007 NEWSLETTER

I was suffering with what the doctor said was normal for my age 39, higher blood pressure, heart palpitations, not able to sleep on my left hand side, rash around my groin and armpits that I couldn’t get rid of, weekly headaches and to top it of waking up at 2-3am every morning with a anxiety attack.

I was attending a anxiety meeting every week and seeing a psychologist but the problem was that I couldn’t identify with any of the other people that came to the anxiety meeting. It seemed all of their complaints of the 100 or so different people that came to the meeting related to cyclic thought process that brought on the anxiety and kept them in that loop. I on the other hand felt a little on edge but was very relaxed about life. I delved into unresolved tensions with my psychologist but still no relief. Yoga and relaxation exercises seemed to help but what it truly did was let me watch my body go through the symptoms while I watched it happen in the third person. Because my symptoms didn’t fit the norm I refused to take any form of medication. I felt it was stupid to compound the problem until I knew what was causing it.

Finally I had yet again another anxiety attack. This time it was unbearable and my heart went over the 199 bpm that my machine could measure. I tried everything to relax but my system went into overdrive. My mother came around and my wife was there to help. I am amazingly good at relaxing my body but nothing seemed to help. I called nurse on call and they called an ambulance immediately upon hearing my symptoms. The ambulance arrived and went through the routine of checking me over and in the time they were there my body stabilised to around 100bpm. They gave me the option of going to hospital and waiting in the waiting room for 4-6 hours or stay at home and try and get over it. I took the wait at home option. The interesting thing from all of that is the male ambulance officer who leaned against the door frame for the whole time they were there said “gee you look like my wife does when she has a attack of 635” I thought he was full of it and ignored him at the time. I felt like I had run a marathon.

The following day I looked up 635 on the internet and noticed the rash and the headaches that I had were the same but nothing else rang a bell. Having nothing else to go on I looked into what had 635 in it as an ingredient. I was amazed to find my pies, pasties from the local bakery had beef booster and hence 635 + 621 that was Monday nights explained then a lot of chips + crackers that I had for lunch - even ones from the health food section of my local supermarket that state quite clearly on the packaging that 635 is not 621 and therefore is not bad for you. What a laugh! I must stress I had no belief that 635 was the cause of anything but my rash and headaches. I have not changed my lifestyle in any way except for removing 635 + 621 from my diet and only very recently removed 282. But a key interesting note is the 12 hour delay from eating the food to the full blown symptoms. I still eat selected junk food, I still exercise the same amount, I have even more pressure at work and I still get broken sleep from my now 2 year old.

When I would go to my doctor, her face would drop in that “not you again look” she would listen to me with bored expression and write in her notes, anxiety related. Please also note that my doctor since then acknowledged she has absolutely no knowledge of food intolerance re 635 – 621 and their symptoms. How are you expected to be helped if they are blind to these issues? The way I wish to truly express myself as to how I feel re their mainstream blindness is limited by my overriding desire to keep this letter polite. I have not read anywhere a person with my exact same experiences but I know it is simple. I have stopped eating 635 + 621 and I am back to how I remember the way I used to be.

From that week….

My multiple rashes of many years cleared up completely!

Not one single headache!

I have not had a single heart palpitation!

Not one single anxiety attack!

No hand or body tremors!

No racing heart!

No feeling of tension!

The only exception to this was when I went to a mothers’ group party and ate some salt and vinegar chips laced with 621 + 635. I had a bad night sleep that night. I checked the chips at the supermarket the following day and found the suspect ingredients. I will not eat any food that I cannot check the ingredients. Hungry Jacks will not return my calls to tell me what foods have 635 in, and Nandos will not return my calls as well. It is of interesting note that the American version of Hungry Jacks (Burger King) + KFC list their ingredients but the similar Australian version of the web sites have the ingredients list missing. I FEEL LIKE A NEW MAN – Wayne, by email (Wayne, please contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. with an address so that the DVD can be posted; your email no longer works)

[563] IBS: colostomy for 11-month-old baby (May 2007) SHARED COURAGE AWARD STORY FOR MAY 2007 NEWSLETTER

In reply to the Reader’s Story [537] in the last newsletter about salicylate intolerance misdiagnosed as Irritable Bowel Syndrome, our story started 5 years ago. We have fraternal twins who were born at 37 weeks and seemingly healthy at the time, no problems within the pregnancy was diagnosed in regular scans or when they were born. My first clue, looking back, that twin 2 may not be all right was her failure to use her bowel until day 3. I remember her gagging on day 1 and being told by the nurse that this was common in newborns until they had their first motion.

We then continued on a very long path during her first twenty-one months of life with an unsettled baby. Both twins were breast feed however twin 2 was always unsettled. At 6 months we decided to introduce solids - starting out with farex and progressing to adding small amounts of pureed fruits, ie pear, apple, etc 'all the safe ones'. To our shock twin 2 started to get the most horrible nappy rash with excoriation and bleeding. We couldn't understand it and were regular with her nappy changes, we also noticed that she would strain whenever she tried to use her bowel. We went to see her Paediatrician who prescribed hydrozole cream and amoxil drops, suggested we try some small amounts of vegetables and sent us on our way.

Four months had passed and we were increasingly worried for our daughter who still suffered from the terrible nappy rash and constant visible straining when using her bowel (most unusual in a baby) and was generally unsettled. By now we had tried cows' formula (which resulted in vomiting) and soy formula (which resulted in diarrhea) and we had also noticed that with fruits the problem was worse. Things didn't improve and after many calls and visits to our GP and Paediatrician we decided to see another Paediatrician.

The next Paediatrician suggested we trial a prescribed formula for 2 weeks of 'Alfare'. This resulted in violent vomiting and trip back to him whereby an ultrasound was performed and we were informed that she in fact had chronic constipation, with a large mass in her colon. Our daughter was now 11 months-old and had to have immediate surgery to remove the mass which resulted in her having a colostomy for 3 months.

We were assured by the Paediatric Surgeon that in fact her problems were not food related and that she was born with an 'anorectal anomaly' and that all would be ok once the colostomy was reversed. To our disappointment as soon as the colostomy was reversed we went straight back to the problems of severe nappy rash and excoriation on her full diet. Our daughter at 15 months was then seen by a Professor at the hospital who diagnosed disaccharidase deficiency (sucrose intolerance) to be the cause of the excoriation and unsettled behaviour; not the case.

Somehow eventually after breaking down many times and a visit again to our GPs rooms in desperation we were finally sent with a referral to the RPA Allergy Clinic (daughter 21months old). This was like a dream come true, they did a skin prick test for allergies; which showed no positive reactions (as suspected it would by the clinic Paediatrician). We were then talked through food intolerances and naturally occurring chemicals in foods which caused intolerances in some people! The evidence was there in front of us and we couldn't believe it we finally had answers. Our daughter is now a healthy 6.5 year old, on a low salicylate and mainly low chemical diet who continues to thrive and hasn't looked back. We do trial new foods occasionally and are starting to add small amounts of moderate salicylates to her diet and some dairy (her main drink is now rice milk). We know straight away if she has overloaded as this results in usually loose motions or not being able to control her motions. For us the evidence is overwhelming and we are just very grateful we have our daughter and we can now give her answers and solutions so that she continues to enjoy good health and happiness. - by email.

[562] Yellow addiction (May 2007)

My son was restless from the day he was born. His paediatrician told me to not feed him dairy or wheat and suggested I feed him meat and vegetables and fruit for the first year of his life. When he was one, I decided to broaden his diet a bit and started feeding him vanilla ice cream. I didn’t understand at the time, but he started throwing the most awful tantrums and head banging. He became obsessed with the colour yellow. He only wanted to wear yellow clothes, draw with yellow pencils and chose toys that were yellow. My friends constantly commented on his yellow addiction. I used to feed him corn and cheese omelettes for dinner with vanilla ice cream and banana for dessert. I’d mix the banana in thoroughly so the ice cream looked more yellow. It wasn’t until 18 months later that I started learning about nasty food chemicals, and learned that annatto 160b natural yellow colouring was causing a lot of problems. When we got together with other mothers, he’d go straight for yellow food and always want yellow drinks. It was a bit of a joke really. He’d choose yellow lollies over other colours and when I asked him what colour he wanted his room painted, he of course said Yellow. I stopped allowing him food with 160b in it, but still let him have it when he went out. My friends thought I was over the top with food.

One day after meeting with my friends, and my son eating their yellow food, he went off the rails. I managed to get him into the car, (which is hard when they stiffen their bodies like a board) and drove him to my friend’s house. He was screaming in his car seat, Let me out, let me out and was struggling like crazy in his seat. We drove up her driveway and my friend said Oh my god, what’s happened to Liam? I explained this is what happens when he eats bad food chemicals. It was only after this that she actually believed me. I then became strict and totally eliminated it from his diet. His headbanging stopped and his outrageous tantrums stopped also. I then realised that his obsession with yellow was caused from an addiction to yellow food. When I eliminated it from his diet, he began to choose other colours to wear. He’d choose other coloured lunchboxes, drink bottles and hats. I’ve never heard any other parent mention the colour phenomenon, but I still believe it was connected to his addiction to 160b. – Helen, NSW (similar stories to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. please)

[561] Nurofen mistake (May 2007)

Thank you for helping us to get back the children we were meant to have. We have been failsafeing for about 2 1/2 months mainly for our 4 year old daughter who was defiant, argumentative, oppositional, angry, sometimes violent, sometimes hyperactive, deliberately annoying, and would be awake for 2 - 4 hours after bedtime before falling asleep. The contradiction being that she could also be charming, loving, insightful, enjoyable, happy, playful, caring, enjoy an activity (craft, colouring, building etc) for extended times, clever, calm and inquisitive.

About two years ago we learned about colours and preservatives (from "The Chemical Maze") and pretty much took them out - apart from occasional treats – with good results and we had no idea there was so much more to the food chemical story. I never would have considered fruit etc, I just thought I somehow had to be doing a bad job at disciplining my child and that must be why she is still the way she is. While reading Fed up with ADHD my hopes were ignited for a better life for all of us as I worked up the courage to go failsafe and give this a try. It was a daunting thought with a new baby as well but we really had no choice as far as I could see so we started! Amongst the initial flurry of the first few weeks the results were incredible as we saw emerge this delightful child and hardly any of the pre-diet behaviour. I now feel it is our way of life and I am learning to manage the work load of the constant cooking, baking and planning around food. My once skeptical husband is a beautiful support and really helps out with the kids and the washing so I can keep up with the food etc. We have seen some remarkable changes but there are still some things that concern me though.

After 3 weeks on elimination, our first challenge was salicylates and we had a severe day 3 or 4 reaction, stopped on day 5 and I think we were just starting to come good after about 6 days from stopping when we had a friend's birthday party the next day. We had been so strict, everything to the letter and the girls’ attitudes toward the diet was so amazing that we thought we'd have a day off and give them a "treat". The party food wasn't as bad as it could've been. A lot of home cooking. But they did have some lollies, fruit and chocolate. The girls couldn’t believe it after about 5 weeks on the diet! Anyway, behaviour started that evening and it was pretty foul for about three weeks. We also made the mistake of giving her Nurofen for a sore throat in the week following the party but apart from that we were back to 100% failsafe the day after the party. So after about 3 weeks of reaction type behaviour she started to become progressively better but still with some D.F.Asleep (down to 1-2 hours) and still to many times of defiance and aggression etc. amongst the good behaviour. We are now 4.5 weeks after the party and 5.5 weeks after the end of our salicylate challenge and I feel like we are not yet back to how it was in the first three weeks. – from a country failsafer [this family is now doing well]. Their problems included daily Sakata rice crackers, accidental exposure to lawn fertiliser, and Nurofen. Although Nurofen doesn't contain salicylates, most salicylate sensitive people have cross sensitivity to it and other non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs such as naproxn and diclofenac. You can regard one dose of aspirin or Nurofen as the equivalent of a week’s salicylate food challenge, ref: Jenkins C and others, Systematic review of prevalence of aspirin induced asthma and its implications for clinical practice, BMJ. 2004;328(7437):434. For more possible reasons for diet not working, see Checklist of Common Mistakes]

[560] Reaction to aspirin (May 2007)

Our 13-year-old daughter suffers extreme sensitivity to salicylates and our 12-year-old son suffers mildly (or so I thought). During Easter we had relatives visit and I had gone for a walk with the younger children. My son had a growing headache when I left, and our care for that is a warm carob and lying down in a quiet room. While I was gone he asked if his aunty had anything for a headache. (Incredibly irresponsibly!) she gave him an aspirin. By the time I returned from my half hour walk he had developed severe swelling of the eyes, upper lip, ear lobes and generally puffiness of his face; also urticaria over his whole body centred on his neck and under his jaw line. At first I didn't know about the aspirin. After much questioning, research and deliberation I came to the conclusion that it could only have been the aspirin. He became very agitated, very frightened, and very unlike his usual self. It took over 48 hours for all the symptoms to disappear. Needless to say, my children have never been given aspirin before, and it will never be allowed in my house again. – by email, see Salicylates factsheet for the aspirin-salicylate connection.

[559] ‘Ultra-healthy’ diet led to asthma and debilitating health issues (May 2007)

My mother and I have known for years that we are allergic to aspirin. We both react with ringing in the ears, nausea, vertigo, lethargy, and I even lost consciousness once. I avoid salicylates in cosmetics and toiletries at all costs, but my health has steadily declined (I am 24). My mother and I both have had doctors mystified for years with strange and debilitating health issues. They told my mother oh you have lupus, no you don't, yes you do, no ... so on and so on. Now they have decided that we both have fibromyalgia. None of my doctors have ever mentioned that salicylates are in foods. After coming across this information I realised that almost every diet change recommended to me by the doctors has caused my salicylate intake to be astronomical. It's no wonder I've been in and out of emergency rooms.

Everyone made fun of me calling me a "health nut" because of the supposedly ultra-healthy diet I was on. I was trying to follow the USDA guidelines and eating lots of fruits and vegetables - especially citrus, broccoli, and spinach. The heart healthy recommendations include lots of processed tomato products and using as many different herbs as possible (to give flavor instead of salt). I also was trying to eat as many "naturally sweetened" things as possible. I was eating a lot of fresh oat granola, but it was loaded with honey, almonds, and pretty much anything that comes up high in the sals. I also was using olive oil for cooking, salad dressing, and with herbs instead of butter on bread.

It's no wonder that I was getting worse. I was having so many migraines that I only had about two days a month that I could function without excruciating pain in my head, I had chronic tendonitis, chronic fatigue, if I ever did get to sleep I felt more tired when I woke up than before I slept and I was still gaining weight. Now that I am on the right track I have only had two migraines in two months, and I have only had a tendon problem one day. I was diagnosed with adult onset asthma and was using an inhaler every day and now I only have to use it when I get exposed to salicylates. My mother and I have both been improving so drastically that everyone is asking us what is going on. – from the USA

[558] Muscle spasms (May 2007)

I am a 55-year-old woman who recently worked out for myself that I have a muscle spasms as a strong reaction to 220 (sulphites) and minor reactions to others which I haven't identified yet. The muscle spasms are usually in the limbs and are worst when I sleep. I am a very fit and active person, so when I finally sit in front of the TV after tea and relax, this is when I feel the spasms. When mild it is usually any one muscle at a time in my legs and usually every 30 seconds. The affected muscle tightens or twitches and can occasionally jolt my leg or finger etc. When I have a worst reaction during the night, again it is like a tightening of, possibly, a muscle in my chest, or hip, or shoulder, head etc. When it is in the chest, some times it actually knocks the breath out of me as I awake with a jolt. Have you ever had the electrical impulses on your body when you are at the physiotherapist and a muscle tightens - that is how I feel. Sometimes of a night I feel as if I have a "motor" running in my chest or sometimes my head (sounds crazy doesn't it!) I can also quite often get a tingling (or motor sensation) feeling down my legs.

I went to four doctors last year and not one knew what was wrong, with one referring me to a neurologist. I become hyperactive in the evening – full of energy when everyone else is wanting to go to sleep - and have constant insomnia. When I am at my worst my muscle spasms (during sleep) wake me every few minutes and I experience hallucinations or bad dreams. Strong sleeping tablets don't eliminate these muscle spasms. It wasn't until I realised the 220 preservatives were in the "healthy" foods: dried apricots, sultanas, most yoghurts - that I was able to get my health back into order. It took me nearly a year to work out what was wrong with me. Since watching my diet I am sleeping so well it is unbelievable; I haven't slept like this for possibly 7 years and only have mild muscle spasms resulting in bad sleeps occasionally when I'm not aware of the preservative in the food. I guess I am still finding it hard to check everything before eating!!

The last 12 months have been very scary for me when I didn't know what was wrong - I feel so strongly for our children who also must be suffering and unable to communicate how their body feels. - by email, Victoria.

[557] “Giving up the victim role”: a story of salicylate intolerance (May 2007)

I have been so inspired by the stories of others that I felt the desire to share my "salicylate intolerance discovery" story. I had been sick for many years and when I think about it probably since birth. Back in those days not many topical products had herbals in them so my salicylate intake was confined to food and aspirin products. And my symptoms were mainly digestive, brain fog, and numerous bouts with asthma. When I grew up and flew the coop things became increasingly worse. For years I have been in and out of the doctor’s office (I am in the military health care system) and all tests ran negative, of course. And so the multiple diagnoses began - arthritis, mental illness, fibromyalgia and so on. A few years ago one of my co-workers disclosed to me that she had fibro and referred me to the guai-support website. I knew that it would be hard to convince the military doctors to put me on the Guaifenesin treatment so I decided that I would pay for it out of my pocket if it would give me back my quality of life.

On any given day I was experiencing 10-15 symptoms daily and was hardly functioning - it was very, very difficult. There were days I could not walk and my husband had to carry me to the bathroom. Just lying in bed was painful - the good days were marked with a raging fever, flu-like feelings, and a ringing headache. I did get to a point where I got used to the pain and learned to live with it - I really had no other choice - live with it or kill myself.

For some reason I knew deep inside that I didn't have fibro, it didn't seem right. But I reasoned what do I have to lose and on a long holiday weekend I set upon the closet to remove all topical sal-full products from my life. Within a week I felt incredible. When I talked to my co-worker she said maybe I didn't have fibro at all but a sensitivity to salicylates I was quite stunned. A few weeks had passed and I felt better and better but I still had some digestive tract symptoms so I went back to the guai-support site and re-read the information and one line jumped out at me - that you did not have to worry about salicylate in food as the body would break it down and it would not interfere with the guaifenesin. That led to another Google search and to other sites. I never had to beg the doctors to put me on the guaifenesin protocol as removing sal-full products and food from my life relieved all of my symptoms (listed below).

But there was still a period of "struggle" for me. I am a gardener by hobby and trade so I had to learn to cover up my body and wear gloves to eliminate contacting plant salicylates. I also have been growing and eating my own food for years. That was the hardest part and I went through the denial stage for while - abusing my body with foods I knew I could not tolerate. How do you grow vine ripened tomatoes and perfumy exotic melons and not eat them?! The mind would say - oh come on a few bites won't matter - but it really did matter! So I finally decided to quit seeing my "problem" through the eyes of a victim (poor me, why me? why am I being punished?) and changed my point of view to a position of personal power. What a huge difference. So I can't eat some food and wash my hair in botanical goodness - so what. When I totally eliminated the foods/products that caused me trouble I felt so great that I could not believe that I could deal with that much pain. And I never want to feel that pain ever again!

The nice thing about giving up the victim role is I could reclaim that negative energy and put it towards something else - last year I bought myself a motorcycle and began riding - something I had been wanting to do for years (I rode trail bikes as a kid and loved it) but couldn't do when I was ill. Regaining my quality of life and being able to work, exercise and play again (and I am quite sure my husband is happy that sex no longer hurts) is worth giving up "bad" foods.

For all you new to this I know it can seem just miserable - take it one day at a time, be gentle and forgiving with yourself, and know that life can be rewarding and fun without some pleasures of food, drink, and beauty products. Wishing you good health - by email (with permission from another group)

Mind, emotion and behaviour symptoms: accident prone • anxiety • anger for no apparent reason • blankness • brain fogging • clumsiness • confusion • depression • detached/unreal feeling • difficulty waking up/getting out of bed (due to lack of sleep and aching muscles) • disorientation • dyslexia • hearing without comprehension • inability to think clearly • indifference • irritability • memory loss • mental exhaustion • mood swings • panic attacks • poor concentration & memory reading • restlessness • slow to process information • slurred speech • suicidal feelings

Physical symptoms: abdominal pains (thought I might have IBS) • acne • asthma & wheezing, tightness of chest • athlete's foot • bad breath • bloating (lost three dress sizes when I gave up the sals) • blurred vision • breast pain • constipation • crawling/burning sensation on skin • diarrhea • insomnia • itching • joint pain, stiffness & swelling • fatigue & lethargy (thought I might have CFS) • menstrual problems, pre-menstrual pain • metallic taste • migraines • mouth ulcers • muscles - aching, weakness, tremors & cramps nausea palpitations & racing pulse • poor balance • rashes • difficulty in swallowing • dizziness • eczema • excessive thirst • feeling drained • flushes - both hot & cold • frequent need to urinate • headaches • restless legs • sensitivity to light & noise • sleep disturbances • sore, itching, puffy, burning eyes, stiff neck • temperature fluctuations • ringing ears • weight problems.

[556] An adult food reaction (May 2007)

I'm 51-years-old. Tonight I went to Subway and purchased a Chicken Bacon Ranch Wrap. I hadn't eaten a low-carb tortilla in sometime and had forgotten the affect one had on my stomach. It wasn't until I finished eating that I, unfortunately, remembered. Every time I eat one, I have severe spasms in my stomach, with some nausea and gas. Tonight, it was so severe it felt as though a knife was cutting into me. I see your web site focuses on, mostly, children. I just want someone to be aware to the fact adults can have the same intolerances as children. – by email [see the Subway ingredients list on https://www.subway.com.au/site/assets/NutritionalDoc/2015.08.22-Ingredient.pdf).

[555] Vanillin is an absolute avoid-at-all-costs additive (May 2007)

Our oldest son reacts to Vanillin. His reactions are behavioural. He stops listening or following instruction and becomes disagreeable. We also see really distinct rough behaviour towards his younger brother. We usually notice a reaction the next day and it lasts for quite a while compared to his other reactions. After Marshmallows it lasted a week! It also doesn't seem to take a very high dose to start the reactions. For us it is an absolute avoid-at-all-costs additive, we never compromise on this as we do with other things. It is simply not worth it.

I've heard so much conflicting info about this additive, so many people seem to think it isn't a bad additive. Sadly, I must disagree – Ruth, by email.

[554] All three children got asthma at the same time (May 2007)

My daughter, now in her late 20s, first got asthma in her early teens. Recently she told me the story of her very first asthma attack. She was away from home camping with friends, when they treated all the children to a soft-serve ice-cream. Within a short time she was having troubles breathing. The other adults identified that she was having an asthma attack, severe enough that they were contemplating taking her to hospital. Prior to having this first attack, my daughter did not have many additives in her diet. I just didn’t let my children have lollies, cordials, snack foods, etc as I didn’t think they were healthy, and I did a lot of home cooking. Soft-serve ice-cream was just not something that she had ever been given. Over the years, she noticed for herself that if she had soft-serve ice-cream, or drinks and lollies with a certain yellow colour in it, that this would quickly trigger an asthma attack, and that if she didn’t consume these things that the number of her asthma attacks were less.

With hindsight (isn't it a wonderful thing) all of my children have got asthma as a result of additives. It was only watching your "Fed Up" DVD that let us work it out. My daughter already knew that certain ice-creams and 102 gave her asthma, but we hadn't realised that other additives, that don't give such an immediate effect, could also be involved. Asthma is in their father's family and their grandmother gets bad asthma, so I was expecting that at least one of my children would get asthma as well. When none of my children had any symptoms of asthma I was relieved. That was, until all three of them got asthma about the same time. My daughter was aged about 13 and the two boys were about 10 and 8. It was very confusing at the time as why all three would suddenly get asthma when none of them had had any symptoms previously. The only thing that changed about that time was that all three of them were getting access through their friends to types of foods that I had never allowed them to have before, like processed snacks that I have now learned are high in additives. At the same time as this, realising that I was not going to be able to stop them from eating whatever they wanted to when they weren't at home, and because of other family pressures, our diet was changed at home so that the snacks, foods and drinks that I now know are full of additives began to be consumed at home. The change was therefore from a largely additive-free diet to the average Australian additive-packed diet. So three asthma-free children changed to three asthma-prone children who all needed to be put onto medication. If only I had known then what I know now. – by email

[553] Food additives in the Middle East (May 2007)

I am a New Zealander living in the Middle East as the climate and lack of huge amounts of trees, flowers and grasses makes my quality of life much improved. Unfortunately, foreigners are arriving and corrupting the food practices here by introducing all the things we are trying to have removed in processed food, as well as bringing in all the junk food and fast food chains. Currently the food producing companies coming from Europe have introduced synthetic antioxidants into all the types of oil, including safflower and sunflower, which used to be available in abundance unpolluted. – by email.

[552] A psychologist comments on story [539] (May 2007)

I'm just reading the latest FIN newsletter (#51) and came across Reader's Story [539] “The school counsellor … went on to tell me that it is coincidence that withdrawing a food substance or chemical would have a positive effect on our daughter. She then proceeded to tell me that Lily probably has Aspergers and that the paediatrician probably didn't want to tell me that. I am feeling so enraged. She hasn't even met Lily.”

As a Psychologist who used to work in education, I am so disappointed for this family. There seem to be a number of responses that I would hope were the exception rather than the rule of a counsellor's professional practice. Diagnosis should never be made without interaction with the person in-question. Theory and empirical-based study are important, however that "importance" should be balanced with a few other thoughts - 1) the causes/criteria for illness are frequently "refined" over years despite each change being based on the alleged omniscience of empirical data, and 2) life on earth has never been 100% contained and explained by research based theory - there are always exceptions, and to dismiss the possibility (particularly when the individual has possibly never done a literature search on the topic themself) is to choose ignorance. Carl Jung made a profound statement on this - "Learn your theories as well as you can, but put them aside when you touch the miracle of a living soul." I know the difficulties I face getting parents and other professionals to even consider diet as a factor in their children's behaviour and/or learning challenges. I want to commend and encourage these parents for their intentional pursuit of their child's wellbeing. Perhaps a respectful suggestion to visit (or provision of) the extraordinary list of research links on the FIN website might open the eyes and mind of this counsellor. In the end, it is still our responsibility as parents to make decisions (albeit informed decisions) for our children - not doctors, not teachers and not counsellors. Well done for standing firm. – Psychologist, by email (Note that we now have a number of failsafe-sympathetic psychologists on our list of health professionals – you can obtain the list by emailing Howard: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.)

[551] IBS: Some failsafe tips but not enough (May 2007)

I have just read the IBS misdiagnosis story ([537], Jan 2007). After countless examinations, a colonoscopy, a couple of (very nice) women's physios, being told by a "bum specialist/surgeon" to lose weight and get fit (I lost 13kg, got fit), I still have my IBS. The basic solution I was offered by a specialist physio was to reduce stress, avoid cream, butter and rich, spicy food - a couple of failsafe tips there, but not enough. Yet another '"bum specialist/surgeon", not gastroenterologist, suggested a good dose of Epsom Salts to clear any backlog (not a regular occurrence, just when needed) and glycerine suppositories to relieve constipation. I and my kids have some other signs of food intolerance. Looks like I'm in for a rough time until I adopt the full failsafe regime and find out what our intolerances are – by email.

[550] IBS: ‘nice, big, healthy bowel’ needed dietary modification (May 2007)

I have been aware of the RPAH diet for over 10 years and largely stuck to it during that time to help with symptoms of MS (multiple sclerosis). I have also suffered bowel issues for many years, predominately constipation but sometimes diarrhoea. My symptoms primarily include bloating, constipation and terrible pain. Initially, I thought it was the cause of my MS (bowel and bladder disturbance can be a problem) so just figured I had to live with it. When my lower bowel pain became quite severe - particularly after eating wheat and despite being failsafe - I decided to consult my GP again. She referred me to a gastroenterologist who preceded to do a colonoscopy to see if some inflammatory bowel disease was present and an endoscopy so she could take a biopsy and take a definite diagnosis on whether I had Coeliac disease or not.

Fortunately, all my results came back clear and the gastro told me that after examination she concluded that I had a 'nice big healthy bowel' (I guess that's a compliment to the gastro fraternity!) As she had eliminated all other possible diseases, she further concluded that I simply had IBS which has no real treatment. She said that dietary modification could help however, and referred me to a bowel dietician.

The dietician explained to me about fructans (a natural sugar) found in the onion family, wheat, chicory and asparagus. Having been failsafe, I knew about the amine and salicylate intolerance I have but thought that eliminating fructans could help considering I found leeks, spring onions and wheat appeared to affect me despite them all being failsafe and despite my not having Coeliacs. This all really helped so now I have refined my diet again and have eliminated all the trigger food chemicals (MSG, Salicylates, Amines) as well as fructans (leeks, spring onions, wheat, asparagus). This has helped my IBS greatly. I am now just trying to give up percolated coffee every morning as that appears to trigger IBS symptoms. This fructans information may just be another piece of the puzzle for some people who suffer IBS. – by email.

[549] IBS: “strict gluten free diet for 9 months with no improvement” (May 2007)

In reply to the Reader’s Story [537] about salicylate intolerance misdiagnosed as Irritable Bowel Syndrome, in June 2004 I was referred to a gastroenterologist in with symptoms of IBS to check for coeliac disease. I had had IBS symptoms for 15 years. I also had a SIGA (immunoglobulin A) deficiency which made diagnosis of coeliac from blood tests more difficult; and lots of other symptoms not connected with digestive tract including fatigue, recurrent sinusitis, joint/muscle pain, skin rashes and urticaria. I had a gastroscopy and biopsy and two pathologists reports were both positive for Coeliac disease, although the gastroenterologist was not sure that the tissue changes were completely typical of coeliac. I was diagnosed with coeliac disease and followed a very strict gluten-free diet for 9 months with no improvement in my symptoms and was eventually given a blood test checking for gene markers HLA-DQ2/8. The results were negative and made coeliac a very very unlikely diagnosis.

In May 2005 the gastroenterologist finally referred me to a dietician to do the RPAH elimination diet and we discovered that removing salicylates and preservatives from my diet improved most of my symptoms. He must have been aware of the possibility that IBS symptoms could be related to preservatives and other food chemicals. The help that I got from the dietician put me on the right track but the Food Intolerance Network website, Sue Dengate’s books and the RPAH cookbook were much more helpful in providing detailed information about foods and food chemicals and managing the diet. The dietician did not refer me to those resources but I found out by doing my own homework and searching on the internet – by email.

[548] IBS: gf diet did not clear up stomach pain, constipation and bloat (May 2007)

I have stumbled upon your latest newsletter in the search for what might be wrong with my daughter and found the brief note about IBS and salicylates. My daughter (15) has had gut problems for over a year starting with what we assumed was a gastro bug. A biopsy confirmed Coeliac disease however, a gluten-free diet did not clear up her symptoms of stomach pain, constipation and bloat and she lost a lot of weight and ended up in hospital for re-feeding (and no she is not anorexic!). She was also put on pain medication which doesn't seem to help. We are about to start eliminating salicylates from her diet under the guidance of a dietician, and will keep you posted on the result. She has always loved fruit and vegetables! – by email.

MORE READERS' STORIES on the website

Product updates


Low gluten oats: Freedom Foods Contamination-free Quick Oats Porridge - “produced on farms where contamination-free oats is the only cereal produced”, seeds are tested for contamination; machinery and silos are not used for other cereals; manufacturing is carried out at facilities that only handle oats; machinery and storage areas are cleaned down before use from previous oat manufacturing; tested with a test that will detect gluten contamination down to 5 parts per million. Available in Coles supermarkets - thanks to Lone. These oats are likely to be OK for all but for the most sensitive. Coeliacs might want to consult their doctor, see http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/entrez/query.fcgi?db=pubmed&cmd=Retrieve&dopt=AbstractPlus&list_uids=17327936&query_hl=7&itool=pubmed_docsum.


***Product warning*** Laucke's breadmix is currently not recommended due to unlisted antioxidant 319 in canola oil, the company is working to change this – thanks to Lodzia


Psyllium: unflavoured Psyllium husks such as Sunsol (www.sunsol.com.au 1800 625 658) or Meriram available in supermarkets and health food stores are failsafe. Beware of additives and salicylates in flavoured pharmacy products: “Metamucil in the Smooth Orange, Smooth Lemon/Lime and Granular Sunset contains food colouring 110 but it is not listed as such because it is an American product. It is listed as yellow FCF CI 15985. I was taking the Lemon/Lime flavour for my irritable bowel symptoms whilst trying to figure out why some of my other food intolerance symptoms (irritability, insomnia and urticaria) were increasing. Their newest product FibreCaps contain Red 40 Lake, Blue 1 Lake, Yellow 6 Lake - according to our classification system, these are the harmful colours 129, 133 and 110 respectively”. - thanks to Liz. As with other seeds there have been reports of IgE mediated allergies (including rare fatal anaphylaxes) especially in nurses who have a high exposure to psyllium.


Sake Rice Wine: A reader writes “in spite of my numerous intolerances (gluten, lactose, salicylates, amines, soy, MSG, sulphites, benzoates, annatto, sorbitol), I seem to be fine with Sake. I have been regularly challenging myself with it since Christmas ... I am very happy with 'Go-Shu', which is brewed in Australia using traditional Japanese methods, and readily available at liquor stores, for just under $16. The only warning - it is 15% alcohol, so take care!’ – Thanks to Lynn (I too have no problems with sake – other than the alcohol! - and would welcome feedback from other failsafers: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.)


Peters Lemonade Icypoles, some feedback: “these have at some stage been taken over by Nestle. My daughter could not tolerate them at all before but now can tolerate 1-2 a week, generally without a problem, unless she is already over her sals level for other reasons. – thanks to Kathleen Daalmeyer from the SAFE website http://www.additiveeducation.com.au/


Annies all fruit bar: for people who are only avoiding additives, these are preservative-free but NOT failsafe (chock full of salicylates and amines). In the fruit/veg section of Woolworths, all natural, no additives, made from pure fruit (dehydrated fruit pulp) one bar equals a 1/4 kg fresh fruit – thanks to Lesley.


Butcher Gympie, Qld The butcher in the Centro Complex, Bruce Highway, Gympie makes preservative free (not failsafe) chicken and beef sausages and

patties, as well as gluten-free ones. “I have now purchased them twice and found I don’t suffer the horrific headaches and fever that comes with normal sausages. - Thanks to Sue


Barossa Fine Foods (Central Market, Elizabeth and the Barossa Valley, South Australia) do a large range of organic meats and gluten-free sausages. “We get a lump of beef and have them mince it for us - all fat removed and packed in meal size portions - that is at the factory in Elizabeth. Organic chickens are available I think Wed to Fri - but you need to order them as they sell very quickly” – thanks to Judith


Thermomix: For old-fashioned cooking without additives made quick and easy with technology from Germany, the Thermomix weighs, chops, grates, grinds, minces, heats, stirs, kneads, mixes, cooks, bakes and cleans itself. Makes a custard from scratch in 7 minutes; bread, pizzas, pasta etc. Cyndy O’Meara of Changing Habits says “My biggest wish is that this machine was around when I had small children”. See www.thermomix.com.au We would like to hear from any failsafers who have used it (This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.).

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



Your questions:

Q. What is the best way to stay with the most current info on the salicylate content in foods?

A. See the latest edition of Friendly Food by the Royal Prince Alfred Hospital Allergy Clinic, http://www.cs.nsw.gov.au/rpa/Allergy/default.htm

Q. My daughter suffers from dizzy spells. Specialist testing, from MRI scans to epilepsy, has found nothing. I was wondering if intolerance to certain foods can cause dizziness, I am at my wit’s end as my daughter cannot even close her eyes sometimes at night because her head starts to spin.

A. Dizziness and a spinning head (vertigo) can be related to chemicals in foods and medications. The most likely culprits are: synthetic salicylates in medications such as aspirin, nurofen and other pain killers or anti-inflammatory medications, acne cleansers, wart medication, sports liniments and medicated lotions; artificial colours and preservatives in foods and medications; natural salicylates in most fruit and some vegetables - particularly high in tomato sauce, juice, broccoli, grapes and citrus fruits - (see the Salicylates and Meniere’s factsheets). If avoiding salicylate-containing medications doesn't help, the best way to find out if foods are your daughter's problem would be to do a 3 week trial of the RPAH (Royal Prince Alfred Hospital) elimination diet, supervised by a dietitian. Write to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. for our list of supportive dietitians.

Q. I would like to contact Woolworths with an enquiry about their Home Brand products. Do you have an email address for them?

A. Go to www.woolworths.com.au and click on Contact Us

Q. Since we are off dairy I thought we would have to do an amine challenge without chocolate, otherwise how will we know if we are reacting to amines or the milk solids in the chocolate?

A. You can buy dairy-free chocolate (read labels, e.g. Sweet William www.sweetwilliam.com.au, contains soy flour and soy lecithin).

Q. Where can I get the dietician’s booklets for information about challenges?

A. Your dietitian will give you one or you can buy them direct from Royal Prince Alfred Hospital Allergy Clinic: www.cs.nsw.gov.au/rpa/Allergy.

Q. My husband and I are having severe relationship problems, and I'm not sure how much of it might be due to ODD (oppositional defiance). When he is calm and rational and nothing immediate is happening, he seems normal, mature, etc. Says all the right things. But if a situation arises where he is confronted with a problem he seems to react badly. His behaviour is like that of a child throwing a tantrum. I am finding it very hard to cope and have noticed this comes in cycles. This is really difficult for me because it feels like I have 3 children sometimes, not 2 and honestly, our children behave better than he does, and appropriately for their ages whereas he doesn't. The symptoms that really stood out when reading the ODD factsheet were “deliberately annoying other people” (He says he knows he does this sometimes and to the point where he can't stop himself) “blames me for mistakes or problems related to him” (He is very good at this, most of the time I end up wondering what it is that I have done wrong). Living with him is like walking on eggshells. I don't know what might set him off - what triggers him one day doesn’t trigger him the next. He keeps putting off responsibilities and either refuses to do them or puts it off so long that I end up doing it or he is too tired to do it and leaves it for the next day. If I remind him or ask him, he often reacts with anger, resentment and refusal. I'm aware of a few food additives such as tartrazine that trigger aggressive moods in him but I feel there are other things influencing his behaviour. His mother told me recently he was a problem child and on drugs for ADHD. Is this possible - that adults can have ODD too?

A. Yes. The most important behavioural effect of food chemicals is irritability, which is also the core feature of ODD. There are numerous reports of ODD-type symptoms improving in the father or mother when the whole family goes on the diet to support a difficult child.

Q. Recently my husband has awoken with awful headaches after eating a "Healthy Choice" meal which is supposed to be "good for you". One was a stuffed shell dinner and another one was a beef stroganoff meal, which he used to eat without getting a headache. I wonder if they're currently sneaking in things which produce the same thing in him that MSG does; i.e., bad headaches?

A. Since you already know your husband gets headaches from MSG, it is most likely he is affected by some new flavour enhancers that can enhance the effects of MSG by up to 15 times. Here in Australia they are called disodium inosinate (627), disodium guanylate (631) and ribonucleotides (635, a combination of the previous two). In the US, they can be listed with different names such as disodium inosinate (“DSI” or “IMP”), disodium guanylate (“DSG” or “GMP”), and the combination of IMP and GMP (“I&G”); IMP, GMP and I&G are also known as nucleotides. Although these extra flavour enhancers are used to enhance the effect of MSG, MSG itself doesn't have to be listed on the label and often the packet will say "no added MSG" although MSG will be there in some other form such as yeast extract, hydrolysed or autolysed vegetable or plant proteins or even just "flavor".

Q. My daughter who is 3.5 years old suffers from eczema and around the age of about 10 months she went completely bald from Alopecia Areata (she lost all hair on her head, eyebrows and eye lashes), but fortunately the hair started to grow back around 19 or 20 months. However, we are very disappointed to discover the alopecia appears to be returning as a bald patch has recently appeared on the top of her head. I am wondering if you are aware of any food additives which may have triggered this condition?

A. Alopecia areata (patchy baldness) or totalis (total hair loss) has been associated with coeliac disease and may respond well to a gluten-free diet, see http://fedup.com.au/factsheets/symptom-factsheets/alopecia-areata-patchy-baldness. Coeliac disease is a serious condition, if you suspect you have CD, see more information at www.coeliac.org.

Q. Is strawberry Nesquik OK for a homemade milkshake on the elimination diet? The ingredients are: cane sugar, maltodextrin, natural colour (120), natural flavour.

A. No. The natural flavour is obviously strawberry. It’s probably in a very strong, concentrated flavour and would contain at least as many salicylates as a milkshake made with real strawberries, possibly much more.

Q. Do you know anything about brilliant scarlet 4R CI6255? It is one of the active ingredients in Polaramine antihistamine tablets. I gave this to my son (10yrs) tonight under instruction from my pharmacist for sedative reasons. My son’s reaction to the tablet was very defiant/angry, definitely did not want to go to sleep etc and we could not reason with him at all.

A. That’s another name for artificial colour (124) also known as Ponceau 4R. It is one of the worst of the artificial colours – known as synthetic coal tar dyes and azo dyes – that have been associated with irritability, restlessness, inattention and sleep disturbance in children, and also with asthma and many other problems such as hives. Children who have a big reaction to an artificial colour are likely to be sensitive to a range of other additives, and salicylates as well. If your son has problems enough to need medication, you might want to try the elimination diet supervised by a dietitian to find out exactly what affects him. You can request our list of friendly dietitians from This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Q. Sago pudding is on your recipe list (and we like eating it) yet every brand of sago I have seen so far contains 220. Do you know if it possible to buy sago without it and from where?

A. Howard tested Lion brand sago from Anchor foods with sulphite test strips. This brand lists preservative 220 but Howard couldn’t detect any either cold (uncooked) or when cooked. We also buy Cock brand Tapioca Pearl (really sago) from Thailand which has no preservative listed and tests sulphite-free.

Q. My 5yr-old daughter has been diagnosed with severe food intolerances and a moderate allergy to soy. I do not have the finances to use a private dietician. I went to the public hospital yesterday with no positive outcomes – they can’t offer the service of their dietician as they are understaffed and are not taking outpatient appointments – and I was told to go home and try the elimination diet again. This is hard work on your own. I need some support. – by email

A. I recommended the Failsafe booklet and our email support groups to this mother. A week later, she replied “Thank God for the Failsafe booklet. I am now managing to keep the whole family on the elimination diet due to the extra recipes”. She had also joined an email support group.

Q. We have dairy and soy issues. Is there a substitute for yoghurt?

A. We have been unable to make yoghurt or kefir out of rice milk and have found it only works with soymilk and cows’ milk, due to the protein content. If you can tolerate A2 milk you can make your own A2 yoghurt using sheep’s yoghurt as a starter. If you are asking because you want an alternative to eat, see Narni’s custard recipe in the new version of the Failsafe Cookbook. If you are asking because of the probiotic effects, an alternative is the Inner Health Plus dairy-free probiotic capsules – these are not on the RPAH elimination diet list so you would have to introduce them as a challenge. Note that there is little scientific evidence for the effectiveness of probiotic supplements other than Lactobacillus GG; however, some people say they help and others report no effect.

Q. After eating a lot of dried fruit we noticed our sons’ behaviour worsened as well as asthma. Are sulphites also likely to cause hyperactivity and/or aggression?

A. Yes, but they are not the only problem with dried fruit - most dried except pears contain high levels of natural salicylates and some (e.g. sultanas) contain very high levels of both salicylates and amines. Although sulphites have been associated with a range of symptoms including asthma, headaches, irritable bowel and behaviour, so too have other food chemicals including salicylates and amines. It is worth suspecting sulphites in dried fruit first for asthma, but everyone is different, and you might need to consider any or all of these food chemicals.

Q. Is Aussie mite (vegemite alternative) failsafe?

A. Yeast extracts are never OK because they are loaded with natural glutamates (MSG is a yeast extract) as well as high in salicylates and amines.

Q. Is benzoyl peroxide (for acne) failsafe? My teenage son seems to have had a reaction to it.

A. Benzoyl peroxide breaks down into benzoic acid and is excreted as benzoate, so unfortunately it is not suitable for failsafers. It would be like drinking products preserved with sodium benzoate (211). (Would the person who sent this question please write again as I deleted your email by mistake. S)

Around the groups: getting in touch


Can you help?


* Translators needed: we’re looking for volunteers to translate an international version of our blue brochure, about the effects of foods, into 30 other languages. So far we have English and Nepali. Please contact Howard: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..


* Frances would like menu and snack suggestions for a dairy-free, soy-free, egg-free, failsafe two-year-old, contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..


* Does anyone know of a nursing home on the Sunshine Coast that would take a chemically sensitive person who is particularly sensitive to fragrances so requires a guaranteed fragrance-free facility – contact Dorothy: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. (Allergy, Sensitivity and Environmental Health Association www.asehaqld.org.au)


* My 16 year old daughter has type 1 diabetes. Just after Christmas she drank heaps of diet coke and ended up in hospital with Parkinson's disease symptoms, shaking and a seizure. A ct scan found calcifications in the brain. When the neurosurgeon examined her he said he has seen those symptoms in diabetics before. After 4 days she was discharged. Later my husband spoke to a nurse he knew and she told him the diet coke was responsible for the calcifications and seizures as the same thing happened to a diabetic boy who lived next door to her. I came to the conclusion that my daughter ended up in emergency every time she drank diet coke. It caused her sugar levels to rise above 30 and high ketones. I decided to place her on a natural diet free from artificial sweeteners and preservatives. My daughter has been having diet stuff since she was 3 after her older brother was diagnosed as a diabetic and I now believe this brought on her diabetes. Now I have started with a natural diet and hope that I can stabilise her. If there are any diabetics reading this that have gone through the same thing, I would like to hear from you. (Please reply via This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.).


Around the groups


The Brisbane group holds regular coffee mornings in members homes, as seen on our DVD: bring a plate of failsafe food to share and no perfumes please, next coffee morning will be held on Tuesday 1st May at 9:30 in Coorparoo. Ph 3847 6105 or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..


See our new Kids Page for failsafers: contributions (drawings, stories, photos etc, welcome)


New factsheet: Eating for Success (the Palmer’s Island program as seen on the DVD).



KIDS’ PAGE This is a new feature for failsafe kids. Your contributions - drawings, stories, photos etc, on failsafe-related topics are very welcome. Thanks to Rachel aged 10 for the idea. http://fedup.com.au/factsheets/support-factsheets/kids-page - bookmark it now!

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

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.


MAY 2007

Newcastle NSW Monday 30 April 7.00-8.30pm: Sue Dengate “Fed Up with Children’s Behaviour” at the West Leagues Club, New Lambton, $10 per person before 23 April, $15 at door. Organised by Hunter School for Children with Autism P&F for Autism Spectrum Australia. Sue’s new revised and expanded “Failsafe Cookbook” and DVD will be available for $25 each cash or cheque only. The evening will not cater for children. Further details from This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

or phone Tracy or Mark 02 4955 6266, 02 4955 6260, fax 02 4955 6270.

Wodonga VIC Wednesday 2 May 7.00-9.00pm: Sue Dengate “Fed Up with Children’s Behaviour” at the Commercial Club, Albury, $20 per person, $10 for additional family members. Organised by Cooinda Family Support Group. Sue’s new revised and expanded “Failsafe Cookbook” and DVD will be available for $25 each cash or cheque only. Contact Cooinda on 02 6056 4844 - bookings are being taken, the paperwork will be sent to you. The evening will not cater for children.

Frankston VIC Thursday 3 May May 7.00-9.00pm: Sue Dengate “Fed Up with Children’s Behaviour” at the Xavier Centre (St Francis Xavier Church Hall), 60 Davey St, Frankston, entry by gold coin donation. Sue’s new revised and expanded “Failsafe Cookbook” and DVD will be available for $25 each cash or cheque only. Contact Maxine at Xavier Centre Frankston 03 9783 3424 for further information.

Warrnambool Monday 7 May 7.00-9.00: Sue Dengate “Fed Up with Children’s Behaviour” Warrnambool Football Club, Cramer Street (via Banyan Street), Warrnambool, $10.00 per person (supper provided & a raffle available for goods to the value of over $1,000). Sue’s new revised and expanded “Failsafe Cookbook” and DVD will be available for $25 each cash or cheque only. Tickets can be pre-purchased from Warrnambool Entertainment Centre by phoning 5559 4885 or online at www.entertainmentcentre.com.au. Further information Kazz Mahoney 03 5562 8159 or 0438 628158.

Ballarat VIC Tuesday 8 May 11.30-1.00pm (Ballarat and District Kindergarten Teachers’ Conference: not for general public) and 7.30-9.00pm (public meeting): Sue Dengate “Fed Up with Children’s Behaviour” Midlands Golf Club, Heinz Lane, Ballarat. Free talk sponsored by Eureka Community Kindergarten Association. Sue’s new revised and expanded “Failsafe Cookbook” and DVD will be available for $25 each cash or cheque only. Contact for further info or to reserve a seat - ECKA office 03 5335 9507.

Cooma NSW Wednesday 9 May 7.00-9.00pm: Sue Dengate “Fed Up with Children’s Behaviour” at the Cooma North School Hall, Baroona Avenue, Cooma. $5.00 per person. Sue’s new revised and expanded “Failsafe Cookbook” and DVD will be available for $25 each cash or cheque only. Contact for further info: Marg Watt, Cooma North School 02 6452 1742 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. - please let her know if you are coming before Tuesday 8 May but pay on the night. A free crèche will operate at the school on the evening.

Canberra ACT Thursday 10 May 7.00-9.00pm: Sue Dengate “Fed Up with Children’s Behaviour” at the Red Hill Primary School, Astrolabe St, Red Hill, hosted by the P&C. $5 per person/couple. Tea and coffee available after the the talk, proudly sponsored by Bakers Delight, Manuka. Sue’s new revised and expanded “Failsafe Cookbook” and DVD will be available for $25 each cash or cheque only. To pre-purchase tickets for this talk or for more information, contact Eleanor 02 6281 2313 This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or Daryl 042 755 3182.


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


Hints: mini crumpets A variation for the Rice Hoppers recipe on page 237 of the new Failsafe Cookbook (reader comment: ”I've just made my first rice hopper and eaten it a few minutes ago - what a treat to find a bread substitute that tastes fantastic”.): make mini crumpets by pouring the batter into egg rings, ideal for fingerfood or lunchboxes, served either plain or with a smear of hummous or pear jam. The batter can be frozen or stored in the refrigerator between use, but works best at room temperature. Some extra hints for that recipe: warm water for mixing with yeast should be blood heat (when you dip your finger in, it feels neither hot nor cold); although the recipe says let stand 6 hours, you can get away with less than that if standing in a warm place.

Hints: pear jam This is the season (March/ April) for fresh ripe pears in the southern hemisphere. Howard bought 7 kg of fresh pears (your supermarket will provide a box) for about $2.70 per kg, we had a working bee to peel and chop them, and ended up with 3.5 kg of useable pears that will provide a year's supply of pear jam for us.


Failsafe sports drink


According to the DAA (Dietitians Association of Australia), studies show that flavoured sports drinks with added carbohydrate and sodium assist in preventing dehydration, particularly for high physical activity or in hot conditions. To avoid nasty additives, you can make your own sports drink. For more information and how often to drink, see https://www.sportsdietitians.com.au/wp-content/uploads/2015/04/Sports-Drinks.pdf.


For rehydration

I litre water

2-4 tbsp sugar, glucose or similar such as Polycose

¼ tsp salt


PLUS for flavour

1 tbsp sugar

½ tsp citric acid or to taste


Homemade butter


You can use this recipe to make additive-free butter in countries where commercial butter contains annatto (160b) colouring. It’s fun to show children where butter comes from, and there’s an option of shaking the cream with a marble in a jar. This butter tastes so much better than commercial butters that we like to eat it without toppings.


1-2 cups (1/3 litre) of heavy whipping cream or double cream, preferably without carrageenan or other stabilisers.


Pour cream into food processor bowl until the bowl is about one quarter to one half full. If the cream has been refrigerated, for best results wait until it warms to about 15°C (60°F) but this in not essential. Process until it suddenly changes from firm whipped cream to a lump of yellowish butter in watery buttermilk. Drain off the buttermilk and set aside. The butter has a mild, fresh flavour and can be eaten now or, to make it last better, you can rinse it repeatedly in the processor with half cups of icy water. Finally, place in a chilled bowl and work the water out with a potato masher, add several pinches of salt if you want before smoothing out into a container and storing in the refrigerator. For more details and photos of the various stages, see http://webexhibits.org/butter/doityourself.html. This process makes about half as much butter as the amount of cream you started with, plus highly nutritious buttermilk. You can drink the buttermilk or use it in recipes, see below.


Buttermilk scones


Buttermilk is lower in fat and higher in nutrients than regular milk, because the fat has been used to make butter while many of the nutrients, including potassium, vitamin B12, calcium, and riboflavin, have been drained off in the buttermilk.


225g self raising flour

pinch of salt

55g butter

1 tbsp caster sugar

150ml buttermilk or milk

extra milk for glaze


Preheat oven to 220’C. Mix together flour and salt and rub in the butter with your fingers. Stir in the sugar and then the milk to get a soft dough. Turn on to a floured work surface, knead very lightly and roll out or pat to a thickness of about 2 cm. Use a 5cm cutter to stamp out rounds and place on a lightly greased baking sheet. Brush the tops of the scones with a little milk. Bake for 12-15 minutes until golden. Serve while still warm with butter and pear jam or golden syrup.


Chokos with Home-made butter


This is the season for fresh, ripe chokos in Australia – we bought a bagful from a nearby home gardener at a cost of 3 for 10 cents.



home-made butter (above)


Peel and quarter chokoes thickly, removing all the fibrous strips around the seed. Steam until soft, then drain and toss quickly in the warm saucepan with a little butter. Serve hot or cold.


Chicken soup for colds and flu


This failsafe adaptation is from Rennard BO and others, Chicken soup inhibits neutrophil chemotaxis in vitro, Chest, 2000;118:1150-1157. The laboratory version contained onions instead of leeks and shallots; turnips instead of swedes; parsnips, sweet potato and carrots which are OK if you can tolerate moderate salicylates but should not be used for your strict elimination diet, see below for alternatives.


1 chicken (approx 2-2.5 kg)

400 gm packet of extra chicken wings

2 leeks and 2 large shallots (instead of onions)

2 large potatoes, peeled (or 1 sweet potato and 3 parsnips for some salicylates)

2 swedes, peeled

11 to 12 large Brussels sprouts (or carrots for some salicylates)

5 to 6 celery stems

1 tbsp of parsley (or 1 bunch for some salicylates)

salt to taste


Clean the chicken, put it in a large pot, and cover it with cold water. Bring the water to a boil. Add the chicken wings, leeks, shallots, potatoes and swedes (or sweet potato, parsnip and carrots). Boil about 1.5 hours. Remove fat from the surface as it accumulates. Add the Brussels sprouts, celery, parsley and salt. Cook the mixture about 45 min longer. Remove the chicken. The chicken is not used further for the soup and can be used in any dish that requires cooked chicken. Put the vegetables in a food processor until they are chopped fine. Freezes well.


Yummy biscuits


250g softened butter

1/2 cup caster sugar (or less to taste)

1 tin condensed milk

3 cups self raising flour


Beat butter and sugar until soft and creamy. Add condensed milk and beat until smooth, then add flour. Cut into shapes and place on a greased baking tray. Bake in a moderate oven until golden, about 10-15 minutes – thanks to Marg

The FAILSAFE Newsletter: You can have this Newsletter emailed to you for free about every three months.

© Sue Dengate (text) PO Box 718 WOOLGOOLGA NSW 2456, Australia but material can be reproduced with acknowledgement. Thanks to Sheryl Sibley, Anne Hurman, Kathleen Daalmeyer, Rachel, Jack, Lesley, Rochelle, Karen, Helen, Susie 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 Australia), and Friendly Food, by Swain and others, (Murdoch Books).