Fedup Newsletters


Newsletter of the Food Intolerance Network

October - December 2008

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: FAILsaf58.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.


Culture of care: EU vs Australia

The slushy story

Books and DVD now available through www.fedup.com.au


Research:, Behavioural effects of food chemicals: a tribute to Dr Feingold, Amine test kit, Fermented milk products in the Himalayas

In brief: Photo diaries work better than written food diaries, scientists have found, MSG and obesity, Ajinomoto to sue Asda over aspartame ‘falsehood’, Is aspartame ‘nasty’?, Aspartame and depression, Sugar not the cause of bad behaviour, Awareness of amine intolerance is increasing,

Readers' stories: [685] - [709]

Product updates: detailed help and information.

Questions: detailed help and information.

Cooks Corner: BBQ butterflied lamb, Creamy mayonnaise, Honeycomb slice, Tiramisu


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Hello everyone


Thank you to all who have signed the Kids First petition against artificial colours - details on the front page of our website – and see The Slushy Story below. It’s a big win for parents! We are also encouraged that a number of food manufacturers have contacted us looking for acceptable alternatives, see more about the ongoing battle below. Also in this issue: more extraordinary reader stories, interesting new products, what you need to know about nitrate-free hams and tempting recipes for Christmas treats. Many thanks to everyone who has helped to spread the word this year by contributing to the newsletter, joining groups, attending talks, contacting manufacturers or buying additive-free food. Howard and I wish you all a very happy and failsafe holiday season


- Sue Dengate


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Culture of care: EU vs Australia


Australian parents would like to think their children have the same protection against harmful additives as European families but that’s not happening. Higher levels, legally unlisted additives, and lack of warnings in food and medication can all make life more difficult for Australian families.


  • higher levels of additives: e.g. more sulphites are permitted in dried apricots (3000 ppm in Australia compared to 2000 ppm in Europe) and there are many others


  • unlisted additives: in Australia, if an additive is used in an ingredient that forms 5 per cent of the final product, under certain circumstances that additive doesn’t have to be listed – the comparable ’25 per cent rule’ was abolished in 2004 meaning that virtually all ingredients must be labelled


  • lack of warnings: when certain colours or preservatives are used in medication in the EU, health warnings about the possible effects of the additives are required on the packet information - this doesn’t happen in Australia


  • six artificial colours are being phased out of foods in the UK and in Europe foods containing these additives will soon have to be labelled ‘may have an adverse effect on activity and attention in children’ - this isn’t happening in Australia either.


How many products use artificial colours? In the UK, despite food industry claims that the additives are used in just a 'handful' of products, the actiononadditives website was able to list over 1,000 products using artificial colours 102, 104, 110, 122, 124 and 129, most of them targeted at children. At the same time, researchers found just 34 products in Sweden, 119 in Austria and 344 in Denmark. A preliminary count in Australia suggests our level is similar to the UK.


The Kids First Campaign would like to see Australian children better protected. More than 10,000 people signed the online petition in the first two weeks. If you haven’t already done so, please sign the petition at www.additivealert.com.au and spread the word – tell your friends and email networks!


References for this article are under the “Culture of Care” slide.


The slushy story


A recent report in the Sydney Morning Herald on the introduction of free slushy dispensers into Australian schools pointed out that the unlabelled frozen treats contain four artificial colours now banned overseas. Red and yellow food colourings linked to behavioural disorders are finding their way into health-conscious school canteens through a brand of slushy being promoted as ‘a healthy treat’ with ‘no artificial flavours, no added sugar, no fat, low GI, 99 per cent fruit juice’, yet they contain artificial colours and a preservative. The drinks are endorsed by the Federation of Canteens in Schools and the NSW Healthy Kids School Canteen Association.


After the story appeared, a failsafer wrote: ‘I am celebrating. On Monday, I showed the slushy drinks article to our school principal. One of the senior school teachers (who came to your talk in Mt Gambier) had also voiced his concerns and noted what effects each of the numbers contained in the drinks have on our children. By Wednesday the machine was no longer being used and in Friday's school newsletter it was mentioned that the slushy drinks were no longer available. Apparently the machine has some green tick on it due to the 99% fruit juice contained in the drink and that is how it managed to get into our canteen. The principal was horrified on the introduction of such a thing as it was not discussed with her or the healthy eating committee. One for us, hooray, hooray’. – thanks to Tracey.


And a Sydney school has since told parents in their newsletter ‘We have decided not to sell the Fruit Slushy due to the high concentration of colours they contain. The promotional information provided by the Whitty's company was misleading and omitted to list colors as an ingredients’ (www.wahroonga.adventist.edu.au/getdata.do?source=3&id=98).


See the SMH article at http://www.smh.com.au/news/lifeandstyle/health/diet-experts-go-cold-on-icy-canteen-treat/2008/11/14/1226318927579.html


Books and DVD now available through www.fedup.com.au


You can buy Sue’s books and DVD individually or as “the set” (Fed Up, the Failsafe Cookbook & the DVD Fed Up with Children’s Behaviour) at very competitive prices through www.fedup.com.au. If you want them wrapped in Christmas paper with a small card please email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. after ordering them and tell Howard what you want on the card.


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Behavioural effects of food chemicals: a tribute to Dr Feingold: Dr Ben Feingold alerted the world to the behavioural effects of food additives in the 1970s and - at least with regard to artificial colours - has finally been vindicated by UK researchers more than 30 years later. His writings about additives and salicylates speak to us as clearly as if they were written yesterday. For example, from the 1975 American Journal of Nursing article:


  • ‘We know that any chemical compound, natural or synthetic, has the potential to produce an adverse response in a susceptible individual … We know that drugs can influence the behaviour of animals and men. Accordingly, it is reasonable to expect food chemicals to cause behavioural modifications. And with the thousands of food chemicals in the environment, it seems remarkable that their influence on behaviour has not been suspected sooner.’


  • ‘A graph of the estimated incidence of ADHD over the past 10 years parallels Standard and Poor’s curves for the dollar value for soft drinks and synthetic flavours over the same period … I believe it is more than suggestive that a relationship exists between ADHD and the artificial colours and flavours in our food. No great imagination is required to visualise how this critical medical and social problem will be compounded within the not too distant future unless recognition is given to the important causative role of the additives.’


  • And from the 1977 Address to the American Academy of Pediatrics: ’I am very well aware of [our] responsibility to industry … yet the primary responsibility is to the troubled children of the world’.


If Dr Feingold’s ideas had been accepted in the 1970s, the world today would be a much better place for our children. You can read the full text of his articles at http://www.feingold.org/pg-research.html under ADD/ADHD.


Amine test kit: A fast, inexpensive test suitable for home use could help millions of people avoid those "out of the blue" headaches that may follow consumption of certain red wines, cheese, chocolate and other aged or fermented foods. The test is designed to detect the presence of so-called biogenic amines, naturally occurring toxins that can trigger a wide range of symptoms in sensitive individuals. http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/10/071001125645.htm


Fermented milk products in the Himalayas: For everyone who has asked about our recent trek in Nepal, the trip was wonderful - we trekked to the world’s highest lake in a snowy basin surrounded by a panorama of Himalayan giants. As well, I am pleased to report that I am now able to eat gluten again after finding the fermented yak milk products dahi and mohi, a repeat of my success with dahi in the same area in 2001. At that time, my dahi-induced gluten tolerance lasted over two years until a nasty bout of travellers diarrhoea led to more years of intolerance to gluten. In recent research from Sikkim, an analysis of 58 samples of Himalayan dahi, mohi and similar ethnic products found 128 isolates of lactic acid bacteria (probiotics) and a wide spectrum of enzymes. Researchers commented that none of the strains produced biogenic amines. Unfortunately, it is not possible to import dairy products of any kind into Australia due to the threat of foot and mouth disease.


Dewan S and Tamang JP, Dominant lactic acid bacteria and their technological properties isolated from the Himalayan ethnic fermented milk products, Antonie Van Leeuwenhoek, 2007;92(3):343-52. http://www.springerlink.com/content/p0616007387j3l64/.


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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.


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In brief


Photo diaries work better than written food diaries, scientists have found: (http://www.newscientist.com/article/mg19926725.300-snaphappy-dieters-reap-benefits.html). One woman who tried a photo diary was eating three times as many calories as she thought (http://www.thesun.co.uk/sol/homepage/woman/article1692100.ece). This would be a quick and easy way of keeping an elimination diet diary.


MSG and obesity: People who use flavour enhancer 621 (monosodium glutamate) in their food are more likely to be overweight than people who don’t use it, according to new University of North Carolina research. In the study of 750 adults in three Chinese villages, the highest MSG consumers were nearly three times more likely to be overweight than the non-users regardless of exercise and food intake. Animal studies suggest that MSG consumption may lead to overweight due to metabolic effects such as suppression of fat breakdown. ‘The U.S. Food and Drug Administration and other health organizations around the world have concluded that MSG is safe,’ said Ka He, M.D., assistant professor of nutrition and epidemiology at the UNC School of Public Health, ‘but the question remains – is it healthy?’ This finding casts doubts on the current healthy school canteen policy of banning high fat foods while encouraging the use of flavour enhancers. Further reading: He K and others, Association of monosodium glutamate intake with overweight in Chinese adults. Obesity 2008;16(8):1875–1880. http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2008-08/uonc-urf081308.php.


Ajinomoto to sue Asda over aspartame ‘falsehood’: Japanese food giant Ajinomoto – the world’s leading supplier of aspartame artificial sweetener 951 (and MSG) – has accused UK supermarket chain Asda of ‘malicious falsehood’ and launched legal action after Asda described aspartame as a ‘hidden nasty’ on its own-label ‘Good for You’ range of products. http://www.drbriffa.com/blog/2008/05/05/supermarket-bans-aspartame-from-own-label-products-and-a-food-fight-is-brewing/.


Is aspartame ‘nasty’?: A review of 166 aspartame studies found that 100 per cent of industry-funded studies concluded aspartame is safe whereas 92 per cent of independently funded research identified a problem. http://www.dorway.com/peerrev.html.


Aspartame and depression: This study was supposed to compare the effects of aspartame in 40 people with and without a history of depression but was stopped after 13 people had completed the challenge because of the severity of reactions in patients with a history of depression. Walton RG and others, Adverse reactions to aspartame: double-blind challenge in patients from a vulnerable population Biol Psychiatry,1993;34(1-2):13-7. http://www.mindfully.org/Health/Aspartame-Adverse-Reactions-1993.htm.


Sugar not the cause of bad behaviour: A new review of sugar and behaviour studies published in May concluded that sugar is not to blame children’s behaviour. ‘The consumption of sugar and additives compete as the major causes of concern,’ said Professor David Benton from the University of Wales in Swansea. ‘Meta-analysis of well designed studies that have examined the impact of sucrose on the behaviour of children produced no evidence that it has an adverse influence,’ he concluded. http://www.confectionerynews.com/The-Big-Picture/Sugar-not-to-blame-for-kids-behaving-badly-review.


Awareness of amine intolerance is increasing: This article from the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition refers to both histamines and other biogenic amines. Commenting on the interplay of amines and hormones, the authors note that histamine-intolerant women often suffer from headache that is dependent on their menstrual cycle and also from dysmenorrhea (painful periods). Histamine may worsen period pain by increasing oestrogen concentrations, and in reverse, oestrogen can influence histamine action. During pregnancy there is a marked increase in the production of diamine oxidase - the enzyme that detoxifies histamine - which may be the reason why, in women with food intolerance due to low diamine oxidase levels, remissions frequently occur during pregnancy. http://www.ajcn.org/cgi/content/full/85/5/1185.


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Readers' stories


All stories from Food Intolerance Network members published since February 1999 are available here http://fedup.com.au/success-stories/current-stories. Here are some of the current stories:

[709] No previous problems with children’s behaviour but have seen improvements (November 2008)

Even though my family is not fully doing the elimination diet I am in the process of reducing the amount of rubbish that my children are consuming, and your information and recipes are helping make a hard job a lot easier.

I was not overly concerned with my children’s health or behaviour, but since we have started reducing the amount of numbers in our diet I have been approached by the teachers to tell me my ten-year-old daughter’s concentration has improved in class and so has my seven-year-old son’s handwriting and ability to sit still in class. Coincidence??? I think not. I am also now more aware of the changes that are occurring after they do consume junk. The teacher in my son’s class was even referring parents to your website at the parent teacher interviews.- Marie, Vic

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[708] Chronic asthma and colours, 621, 635, sulphites, amines; inattentive ADHD and salicylates (November 2008)

I just wanted to say huge thank you for your work (a significant understatement). I saw you at a Canberra talk and our family has been failsafe for 12 months now. We now have two family members - my husband and my seven-year-old - asthma free thanks to failsafe. My husband was previously a chronic asthmatic and now he has improved so much that he doesn't even need to use a preventer nor does my seven-year-old year old! My eldest son aged eight is now excelling in school due to failsafe - he previously had all the symptoms of inattentive ADHD - head in the clouds, extremely forgetful, vague and much more. The school teachers have all remarked on his improvement and his school reports reflect the same. The biggest asthma culprits for my husband and seven-year-old year old are 621, 635, sulphites, amines and yellow and red colours. The culprit for my 8 year old is salicylates. When we did the RPAH diet and salicylate challenge he fell asleep in the classroom at school and had to be taken home. - Lindy, Canberra (very grateful Mum)

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[707] True allergy to cochineal (120) also known as carmine (November 2008)

My daughter (now 10) is extremely sensitive to cochineal 120. She develops a rash on her face that extends from under her eyes to around the jaw line. It is a raised, red rash that feels like "sand under the skin". There is noticeable facial swelling also. This occurs within a few minutes of ingestion and lasts for a couple of days. We had great difficulty pinpointing the cause until she had some Breaka strawberry milk. The only thing that could it could have been was the cochineal 120. We confirmed this ourselves by placing one drop of cochineal into a drink and she responded with a small amount immediately. An allergist has confirmed that she should avoid this colour. She had a few severe episodes as a young child that involved total head to toe rash and many family photos look like she has a fat face and is sunburned. We now recognize this as a reaction.

We are finding a huge increase in the number of foods that contain 120, many have wording stating no artificial colours. We read labels where at all possible and try to make safer choices otherwise. This is getting increasingly difficult. We try to make our daughter responsible for her diet otherwise she tends to resent the policing of it. Grandparents and friends are struggling with the different labeling also. For example in a particular brand of fruit cup cordial, colours are listed as beta carotene and carmine. I had concerns about the carmine, believing it to be a red colour and found it is another label for cochineal 120.

I have concerns about some colours being labelled by names other than their commonly known ones. It makes reading labels difficult. Friends, relatives and my child read everything before eating and had presumed this one ok. We were very lucky we checked before giving her some. – reader, Qld [True allergies are reactions to the proteins in foods and intolerances are reactions to the chemicals in foods. Reactions to additives are usually intolerance. However, as the use of natural colours increases, there are increasing reports of true IgE-mediated allergic reactions to natural colours cochineal (120) which is extracted from crushed beetles and annatto(160b) which is extracted from the seedcoat of a tree, due to proteins in the beetles and seeds, see the Cochineal and Annatto factsheets.]

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[706] Turned into a terror overnight on artificial colours (November 2008)

[705] Action-movie eczema (November 2008)

[704] Stress-related eczema (November 2008)

[703] Croup, asthma, behaviour related to benzoates or sulphites (November 2008)

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[702] Diet not working 100 per cent - another soy intolerance story (November 2008)

We have had a major breakthrough with my nine-year-old daughter. Over a year ago we did the elimination diet for her and worked out what her intolerances were - severe for dairy, moderate to severe for salicylates, mild for amines and reacted to all the additives. I wrote to you some time back noting that my daughter who had finally started drinking soy milk (in fact she was guzzling it down), was bed wetting again and old behaviours were returning. You asked if she was OK with soy.

So we removed soy (or so we thought) and the bedwetting stopped, unless she consumed anything with soy flour in it. For the next year we lived with a much improved daughter but it niggled at me that she still didn't seem 100 per cent and I thought she could be better. When we eliminated gluten and wheat she always had good days but I couldn't bring myself to take these from her already restricted diet and she found this very hard to cope with. She also continued to suffer from eczema behind the knees and in creases, but nothing extreme. I saw the dietitian, thinking that maybe I had re-introduced salicylates too much too soon, but when she had her bad days, going back to failsafe did not always resolve the issue. The dietitian was great and gave me some RPAH booklets and some good advice about nutrition, but I knew I was missing something….(see the rest of this detective story)

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[701] A nitrate reaction to supposedly nitrate-free organic ham (November 2008)

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[700] One-liners (November 2008)

· I love your site and have referred to it for years and years. I was given a low salicylate diet to reduce agitation in my Aspergers son when he was 2 years old, and now he is 15 and a half, he is a fantastic, responsible, loving teenager. - Teigan, by email

· As mentioned in your book, mothers have to find treats that work for the kids so that they will stick to the diet - everyone liked the white choc chip muffins that I took to a sports carnival recently. - by email NSW

· I had a very bad reaction on moving into our new home (paint fumes, new flooring, new grouting/tiles etc etc). Little did I connect the two at the time, that wasn’t until much later. I had severe eczema head to toe and my salicylate threshold went to near zero.’ - email

· I have finally finished all the food chemical challenges. I found that I am not intolerant to salicylates though I am extremely intolerant to amines. It was a huge relief to find out where all the aggression came from. – by email

· As a former worker in a chilled dairy, I am writing about a chemical called aspartame added to their diet range that has warnings all over the bag it comes in: ‘do not inhale’ - yet it's OK to eat. This chemical has been tested on rats and apparently caused cancer. I think all these money hungry factories need to be pulled up. I worked at the factory 20 years ago making yogurt and back then none of these chemicals were used. We simply used milk, sugar and a starter culture. – by email

· I went through our pantry … oh my gosh … do you know how much food there was in there that we shouldn't be eating! – Deb, SA

· I recently brought some ‘Pledge Grab it Orange Citrus scent’ use-once dusting cloths because I couldn't find the unscented ones, and I didn't think these would be too bad, but they were. Very strong smelling and gave me a headache. I should have just stuck with the wet dishcloth for dusting. – by email

· Thanks so much for all your wonderful information. My family is now able to sleep and focus because of the information I found on your website and in the Failsafe Cookbook. – Angela, USA

· I have just discovered you and borrowed your book from the library and have not been able to put it down. It all makes sense and we have to get some control over what we are feeding our children.

· I became seriously ‘fed up’ when my 7 year old son woke up for school a month ago with croup - I have isolated it to the overdose of cordial (211) from the weekend with friends. - Sharyn, Vic

· We have been on the elimination diet now for two weeks and I have been one extremely happy mum whilst shopping over the weekend - due to calm children. – by email

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[699] Developmental delay and dyspraxia: 'a big change in speech and development' due to diet (November 2008)

My daughter Bronte is 6½ years old and now in her first year at school. Aside from reflux until the age of 12 months, she was an absolutely delightful baby who was happy and content. She slept 12 hours through the night by 10 weeks old, hit all her milestones and was fairly average in our mothers group.

When Bronte was approximately 14 months old this deteriorated and we had a child who was frustrated, defiant, irritable and downright difficult. She was naughty on purpose and was impossible to discipline. She also developed eczema at this time but grew out of it after a couple of years. We felt that we were failing as parents. Our first son was born when Bronte was 17 months and he has been a delight. As our sons have grown up we realised that they were ‘normal’ kids and Bronte wasn’t..(see the rest of this detective story )

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[698] 635: rash, headache, asthma, rhinitis in 8 yo due to the 635 flavour enhancers (November 2008)

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[697] 635: Ribo rash - both children affected by 635 from birth (November 2008)

I have a son aged seven and a daughter aged five. Both were affected by 635 from birth - I breast fed them both for nearly 12 months while eating foods such as flavoured chips and pizza. They reacted quite differently to 635 and we were very surprised it turned out to be the same thing.

Our son had a rash over the thighs and sometimes the whole leg, bottom and trunk, worse at some times than others and very rarely on his face. He had nappy rash badly a few times.

Our daughter had the rash mainly behind the knees and elbow, sometimes on the bottom.

Because the rash was always there - although some times really bad and other times just there - we thought it had to be something they were exposed to all the time. We were thinking wheat, dairy, dust mite, fruits, veg, etc - but something always didn't ring true because of the varying degrees of prevalence of the rash.

We went to a doctor who did a skin prick test on each of the children. Our son had a slight nut allergy and our daughter had a slight egg allergy. Some of the other things were also slightly elevated but not really what he thought would be causing their problems. So he suggested we go dairy-free, wheat-free and soy-free for three weeks. We started by re-introducing dairy first, but I didn't do it properly (I gave cheese, etc - thought we could do all dairy!!). So, we went back to the DFWFSF diet again for a bit. All was going well, and their skin was quite good (we were starting to think one of these must be the culprit).

When my son was five and my daughter was three, I was going out one night and decided to get ‘Honey Soy Chicken’ from the deli at the supermarket as an easy tea - they'd had it before many times (though obviously not since starting the diet. Our son started eating it and was complaining about his mouth feeling funny. He had a few more mouthfuls but kept complaining heaps. ‘Stop eating the chicken’. Was soy our culprit? The next day his skin was an absolute mess and continued to get worse for a few days. I went down to Coles and asked to look at the ingredient list - Yuk!!!!!!!!!!!!

I saw the number 635 and something triggered (I had briefly looked at ‘Fed Up’ trying to find some information on triggers for eczema) and I went to your website. Reading through some of the stories about others experiences with 635 - the puzzle pieces started coming together.

The fact that the symptoms last 2-3 weeks explained why sometimes the rashes were really bad and at other times they seemed to be not too bad. We thought that we had our son’s skin culprit - we couldn't believe that it was also our daughter’s!! We took 635, 631 and 627 out of their diet and within four weeks their skin was perfect and remained so. We stopped the diet and began living.

By observation we believe our children do react to other things (behaviourally) - colours, salicylates and amines.

The foods with 635, 627, 631 that affected our children included barbecue shapes, two minute noodle sachets, party pies and sausage rolls, flavoured chips, rice crackers, pizza, tinned soup, cocktail saveloys and many others. They were all foods that were easy to take out of their diet - no sacrifice at all.

Their skin is fantastic now and has been ever since the honey soy chicken episode!! They are very aware of the numbers that affect them and always ask before they eat anything. We have had a few ‘accidents’ and the skin break out that comes with it ... aaaarrrrgh! These have generally come from things that are unlabelled - eg delivered pizza, restaurant meals, take-aways. Still, because we understand what is happening we know how long it takes to go and ride it out. – Lisa, Tas

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[696] 635: Reaction to E635 in the UK (November 2008)

[695] Cough and bedwetting due to soy (November 2008)

[694] 220: Ventricular arrhythmia and sulphites (2) (November 2008)

[693] Ventricular arrhythmia from MSG and sulphites (November 2008)

[692] Heart palpitations felt like a washing machine out of balance (November 2008)

[691] 220: Racing heart (tachycardia) and asthma from sulphites (November 2008)

[690] Chocolate not so healthy for this heart (tachycardia) (November 2008)

[689] 220: Sulphites in wine cause eczema (November 2008)

[688] 220: Cough from sulphites (November 2008)

[687] 220: Reaction to sulphites aggravated by hidden dental abcesses (November 2008)

[686] 220: Sulphite reactions from commercial corn products (November 2008)

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[685] 220: Twenty years to recognise asthma due to sulphites (November 2008)

I first noticed something was not right when I was 18 years old. Mum had brought a Chinese meal home for the family to share. Within 30 mins of finishing the meal my breathing began to get laboured and I started to sweat. My nose blocked up and I felt like I was suffocating. I thought I had a reaction to MSG and decided to leave it at that. I didn't tell mum as I decided I would just not eat from that shop again.

I would often get the same reaction if I went to a restaurant so for the next 16 years I always thought I got food poisoning easily and avoided restaurants and Chinese food.

About four years ago we ate a fish and anchovy meal at the home of some friends. Around 2am in the morning I started going incredibly hot, sweaty, fast heartbeat and felt like I was suffocating. I couldn't breath but did not link it to asthma. I had diarrhoea but no vomiting. No nausea. I had no idea what was wrong with me. I thought it was bad food poisoning due to the fish. I thought I was going to die. It was that severe. I struggled until 4am when I thought I should call an ambulance. I got out of bed and almost collapsed. I was dizzy, seeing flying shapes and hallucinating. I took some antihistamine because my husband said it was more like an allergic reaction and 45 mins later I started to improve slightly so I did not call the ambulance.

I was 34 years old then. I didn't eat out for the next four years and told all my friends "I get food poisoning easily". Earlier this year I decided to see an allergist as I was convinced I was allergic to fish – as similar reactions have happened when I have eaten anchovies - and wanted to be able to eat out again. Skin testing showed hayfever but no fish or food allergies. The allergist mentioned sulphite intolerance to me and when he presented a list of the foods that commonly have sulphites in them, it all came together. Suddenly, everything that I thought gave me irritable bowel had sulphites in them.

I knew that certain mueslis, all sausages and dried fruits made me very sick. I could never drink wine because it always left me with a heavy chest, flushing and I would feel every breath was an effort. Always diarrhoea and asthma and stomach cramps. I never linked the asthma to the sulphites. I always thought it was coincidental. Sometimes I'd get a rash. I know now the worst foods for me are sausages (instant stomach cramps, diarrhoea), wine, cold meats, certain mueslis with dried fruit. I have eliminated all sulphites from my diet since March 2008. I am now off my asthma preventer and feel great. I know now I can tolerate a small amount of sulphite, like in Vegemite but if I cross a threshold (particularly restaurant meals) I suffer terribly. I am too scared to eat out again. I have since taken my 10-year-old son off all sulphites and it's no surprise his asthma has improved considerably.- Yvette, NSW

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Product updates


Some of the information, particularly that about specific foods and what they contain, may be out of date – always check the Failsafe shopping list on www.fedup.com.au for the latest information.

Nitrate-free hams and bacon are not OK for your strict elimination diet or for people who react to amines because all products derived from pig - including roast pork - are high in amines. However, they are suitable for people who have passed their amine challenge.


Strictly Organic (based near the F3 highway outside Sydney for delivery all over Australia) sell nitrate-free ham and bacon – although it is not certified organic I’ve heard it is sourced from predominantly organic pigs: http://www.greencoworganics.com.au/.(changed name from Strictly Organic to Green Cow Organic) If you live within the Nambucca/Armidale/Grafton triangle in NSW, the Strictly Organic ham and bacon is available frozen from Kombu Wholefoods in Bellingen, 02 6655 9299, www.kombuwholefoods.com.au, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. Courier delivery is free for orders over $100.00.


** Product warning: Cleavers "The Organic Meat Company" based in Sydney sell mostly organic meat. However, their ham and bacon CONTAINS NITRATES and is not certified organic although possibly it comes from organic pigs. Nitrates are not permitted by organic certifiers. I have purchased Cleavers bacon in the past by mistake, assuming that "The Organic Meat Company" meant it was organic and nitrate-free.


Preservative-free ham and bacon – salt is used as the preservative, as is traditional: Eumundi Smokehouse Sydney, 402 New Canterbury Rd, Dulwich Hill, 9569 0205, available in health food stores.


Neil's Organic's nitrate-free bacon - a north Qld failsafer has said they’re available from Mighty-Nice Meats butcher in Earlville shopping centre, Cairns.


The Meat-ting Place in southeast Qld is the only Certified Organic retailer and processor of meats in Qld and offers a home delivery service of their organic meats. For people who have passed their amine challenge, there is nitrate-free organic ham and bacon containing only sea salt and organic beetroot for colouring. http://www.themeat-tingplace.com.au/, Stewart Burns 07 3378 9895


How to avoid melamine in Chinese products: for at least six months avoid all products that could contain milk (e.g. milk powder, Coffee Mate, infant formula, chocolate, confectionery) made in China, as indicated by a barcode starting with any number between 690 and 695 inclusive (00-13 is USA & Canada, 50 is UK, 93 is Australia). Products that have been withdrawn in Australia due to melamine contamination include White Rabbit Creamy Candy -would be failsafe if not for the contamination - and Cadbury’s Chocolate Éclair sweets -otherwise suitable for non-amine responders. More details from http://www.foodstandards.gov.au/consumer/chemicals/melamine/Pages/default.aspx – thanks to Juliette


The Little Lolly Shop is offering a range of failsafe sweets by mailorder:

www.littlelollyshop.com, phone 0418 610 569.


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Your questions


All questions from Food Intolerance Network members that have been published since September 2002 are at http://fedup.com.au/information/frequently-asked-questions. Some of the information, particularly that about specific foods and what they contain, may be out of date – always check the Failsafe shopping list on www.fedup.com.au for the latest information.

Q. My nearly two-year-old is the most boisterous boy I have met, and to be honest I am feeling beaten down. I cannot remember the last time he slept all night. He is a handful from the moment he wakes up, and that never stops. We don't eat a lot of junk food, but after looking at your website I am identifying a lot of my family’s behaviour with intolerances. I feel I need to start cutting out certain things from his diet but after talking to my doctor I came away deflated. She told me that it is very rare that people have allergies to salicylates and that it would be an expensive, long and hard path to go down when it probably wasn't the answer. *sigh* Instead she recommended some sort of controlled crying.


A. Some doctors may not understand dietary salicylates because the information is new. The elimination diet is:

  • not expensive - one mother wrote: ‘my shopping bill has gone down by about $100 per week with no junk or frozen convenience food anymore’
  • not long – you only have to try it for three weeks
  • not hard – most mothers say it is easier than living with a difficult child
  • is probably the answer. Royal Prince Alfred Hospital allergy clinic research shows that about 75 per cent of boisterous children are sensitive to salicylates.

Follow up: One week later – after cutting down on fruit and high salicylate vegetables - this mother wrote to say her son had slept through the night: ‘could this be a glimmer of hope?’


Q. Does ham sliced off the bone in the deli still contain nitrites/nitrates like processed sliced ham in the packets?


A. Yes! For people who don’t react to amines, it is possible to buy preservative-free ham and bacon from organic suppliers in fine food shops or health food stores. Read the label and expect it to be more expensive. See Product Updates on our website, e.g. products from Eumundi Smokehouse Sydney, 402 New Canterbury Rd, Dulwich Hill, 9569 0205, are available in health food stores.


Q I found a vegemite copy spread with no preservative, no yeast extract but with the main ingredient being vegetable protein extract. Is this the same as hydrolysed vegetable protein – to be avoided?


A. Yes. It’s the next step in the confuse-the-consumer game. Now consumers know to avoid hydrolysed vegetable protein and hydrolysed plant protein, manufacturers have switched to words such as ‘formulated’ proteins or ‘protein extracts’, ‘yeast extracts’ or even just ‘soy (flavouring)’. You can expect an ingredient that sounds like a plant, vegetable or soy protein or flavouring or yeast to contain natural glutamates, especially when used in a ‘delicious’ sauce or product.


Q. I am pregnant again and was unable to breast feed last time.


A. Food intolerance can cause a range of breastfeeding problems. Food intolerant babies will often pull away from the breast and refuse to feed, see story [651].


Q. I am intolerant to salicylates, natural MSG and have restricted all types of colourings, additives, wheat and milk. With such intolerances, do you think it would be wise to refrain from eating Japanese food?


A. It depends what you choose. Wasabi sauces and flavours, e.g. wasabi flavoured peas, generally contain artificial colours 110 and 133. MSG is commonly used in Japanese food for flavour. Soy sauce is high in natural glutamates even when all natural. Miso soup is high in amines and natural glutamates. Japanese foods such as soba – traditionally buckwheat noodles – and tempura batter – traditionally rice flour – now often contain wheat. Sushi rolls are made with rice vinegar which would contain amines. We don’t know about Nori seaweed, it may contain natural glutamates and/or other natural chemicals.

Follow up: The questioner replied: ‘this confirmed why I was getting headaches every day (MSG). Back to my strict diet!’


Q. Which in your opinion is the best Australian book covering natural substances and their derivatives and extracts etc like milk, casein and eggs. I have been shocked at how little help you receive in Australia for an allergy as long as it's ‘legally’ listed as a number.


A. For information on a range of food allergens including milk, eggs, soy, peanuts, etc see the Food Allergen Cards available from www.allergyfacts.org.au; also see the comprehensive Allergy Free shopping list (nut, egg, milk) on the RPA website at http://www.cs.nsw.gov.au/rpa/allergy/resources/allergy/allergenfreeshoppinglist.pdf.


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Around the groups: getting in touch


Talking point


The mother of a once very violent boy whose wall-kicking rages were fuelled by food intolerance has now found that her younger daughter, with no behaviour issues, needs Post Traumatic Stress Disorder counselling to deal with growing up in such a fraught atmosphere. Have other parents experienced this problem and how did you deal with it?




More than 1.5 million people have now visited www.fedup.com.au – about 1,000 per day.


See http://fedup.com.au/factsheets/support-factsheets/failsafe-support for local contacts who can generally answer some questions about failsafe eating - many have brochures and a copy of the DVD to lend out. They can also advise on supportive dietitians locally.


Email support groups: we currently recommend failsafe3 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.


Supportive karate: I know this isn't failsafe but it helps our children burn off their energy and focus on other things apart from food and may give parents a break from the negatives. My daughter has been attending a Dojo in Warners Bay near Newcastle since September last year. They are former school teachers, wonderful people, understand ‘different children’ and are extremely good with all ages. On a few social occasions where they have provided food I have provided food for my daughter that they have given her and spoken to her about what she is eating and shown interest as they do in the child’s whole life: www.huntermartialarts.com.au – thanks to Adele


Facebook group: Failsafer Michelle Harris has started a facebook group called Say ‘NO’ to Nasty additives and preservatives in our food. She is hoping to get a group to be able to voice an opinion and get some letters out to manufacturers. Thanks Michelle!


Tweed River support group? A mother wants to know if anyone is interested in setting up a group in northern NSW – southern Queensland. Email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. if interested.


Shopping list: there's now a short and useful two-page shopping list typed out by a grateful mother available at http://fedup.com.au/information/information/short-failsafe-shopping-list



Sue will be talking to the BFA (Biological Farmers of Australia in Armidale (28 November) and Coffs Harbour (29 November) – details on website.


Sue and Howard Dengate were speakers at the 10th Annual Food Regulations and Labelling Standards Conference on Tuesday 18th November in Sydney. See the presentation with references


Sue is planning her 2009 program now. If you wrote during the year with a request you should be contacted over the next three weeks. If you want to host a talk please email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..




NOW AVAILABLE in Dutch, French, Italian, Portuguese, Spanish, Nepali and USA. http://fedup.com.au/information/support/food-intolerance-brochures . Translators for other languages please email 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 $A0.26 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."


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Cook’s corner


See a range of suggestions for your failsafe Christmas in the Failsafe Cookbook. My favourite for a hot Australian day is the very spectacular Bombe Alaska.


BBQ butterflied lamb


Marinade (from the Failsafe Cookbook page 92):

2 tbsp failsafe oil (eg canola)

3 tbsp golden syrup

2 shallots, finely chopped

1 clove garlic, crushed (optional)

1 pinch citric acid (optional) salt to taste


2kg leg of lamb, boned and butterflied (your butcher will do this)


Prepare marinade and spread over both sides of lamb, place in a shallow dish, cover and refrigerate for four hours, turning occasionally. Roast lamb on a medium hot barbecue, skin side down, for 8-12 minutes. Turn and cook for a further 8-12 minutes or until cooked as desired. Remove and cover for 10 minutes. To serve, slice lamb and place on serving plates with salad on the side. Accompany with hot garlic bread. Serves 6.


Creamy mayonnaise


Mayonnaise is traditionally made with raw eggs but due to salmonella risk in overcrowded battery chickens, Australian regulators now recommend cooking eggs for safety. This delicious recipe should keep for up to a week in the fridge.


2 tbsp sugar

2 tsp butter

½ tsp salt

2 tbsp cornflour

½ cup milk

1 egg, beaten

½ tsp citric acid


Place sugar, butter and salt in saucepan, melt over low heat. Remove from heat and stir in cornflour dissolved in a little milk. Return to heat and gradually add egg that has been beaten into the rest of the milk, stirring all the time. Add citric acid and continue stirring until the mixture thickens – thanks to Anne


Honeycomb slice


A very easy recipe for special occasions.


1 tin (400g) sweetened condensed milk

600 ml thickened cream

300g honeycomb

2 packs of Arnott’s milk coffee biscuits or any square/rectangle biscuit your family can tolerate


Whip the cream. Chop the honeycomb into small pieces. Fold the condensed milk and the honeycomb in with the whipped cream. Place baking paper into a lamington tray and line with 1 layer of biscuits. Pour mixture over biscuits. Then top with another layer of biscuits.

Place in freezer overnight. Then just cut to serve.- thanks to Sherri




One of the most popular restaurant desserts of all times, tiramisu makes a good treat for festive season celebrations. Basically a layer cake of coffee-soaked sponge and chocolate custard, the name tiramisu roughly translates from the Italian as ‘pick-me-up’ due to the caffeine. Failsafers can use decaf and carob instead, and it can even be dairy and gluten-free - it’s still delicious!


1 failsafe sponge cake eg Cornflour sponge (p242 Failsafe Cookbook) or Classic sponge (p288 Fed Up) – these make 2 sponge cakes, freeze one for later use.

1/3 tbsp decaffeinated dried coffee

1/3 cup water

1-2 tbsp whiskey to taste (optional)

500ml failsafe custard eg Narni’s custard (p153 Failsafe Cookbook, p283 Fed Up) or Pauls Vanilla Custard

2 tbsp sugar

2 tbsp carob powder, sieved


Cut sponge cake into 2cm cubes and place half in a large glass bowl. Dissolve coffee in water and stir in whiskey, drizzle half over sponge cubes. Stir extra sugar and carob powder into custard until dissolved and pour half over sponge cubes. Repeat a second layer. Allow to stand in refrigerator for at least 6 hours to develop flavour.


The FAILSAFE Newsletter: You can have this Newsletter emailed to you for free about every three months, and also see it in colour with graphics on www.fedup.com.au. Subscribe: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. Frontpage: http://groups.yahoo.com/group/failsafe_newsletter

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© Sue Dengate (text) PO Box 718 WOOLGOOLGA NSW 2456, Australia but material can be reproduced with acknowledgement. Thanks to Kathleen Daalmeyer, Helen, Linda, Anne Hurman, Julie, Susie, Robin, Anna 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).