Fedup Newsletters




Newsletter of the Food Intolerance Network

November 2003 - January 2004


FAILSAFE supports people using the low-chemical elimination diet recommended by the Australian Royal Prince Alfred Hospital - free of additives, low in salicylates, amines and flavour enhancers - for health, behaviour and learning problems.

The FAILSAFE Newsletter is now available free by email. Just send your email address to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.




Children's health getting worse

Hotlines - can you trust them?

Big Food and Big Tobacco

Freedom of Information (FOI) request to FSANZ


Research Dutch diet trial; FIN submissions to NHMRC on ADHD and Asthma


Readers' stories: [300] - [311]


Product updates: Many warnings!


Cooks Corner: Christmas dinner; Howard's pear icecream with dairyfree option; Erica's prize winning gf pear loaf

Hi Everyone

One failsafer wrote recently 'a sign of a good leader is one who is willing to be in the trenches with their troops - you are that person to us'. I've really been in the trenches since the last newsletter. Yet again, our daughter has lost months of her life due to an unlabelled additive, this time in butter blend. There have also been big changes in some of our standard products, see product warnings below. I think you'll agree, everyone should read the open letter to Meals on Wheels about ribo rash. And on the positive side, holidays are a time to ease up a little on diet restrictions, see Christmas suggestions in Cooks' corner and what to do if you break your diet in the Q&A.

Many thanks to those who contributed in 2003 - taking part in the discussion groups or local groups, organising or giving talks, checking on ingredients, spreading the word, sharing your stories or recipes, or refusing to buy additive-laden foods.

Merry Christmas and a failsafe new year!


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


Children's health getting worse


Child health experts warn that on almost every statistical indicator of wellbeing, Australia's children are going backwards for the first time in recorded history.

'Whether it's obesity, asthma, mental health, behavioural problems or child abuse, this generation of children [is] worse off than the last generation', says Professor Frank Oberklaid, who heads the centre for community child health at Melbourne's Royal Children's Hospital (Weekend Australian, Nov 15-16 2003, p22).

Health professionals must eventually make the link between what children eat and their wellbeing, as the evidence mounts up. See the lobbying button on our website for the Food Intolerance Network's recent submissions to the NHMRC on asthma and ADHD and reader reports below. Those of us whose children have behaviour problems know that the possibility of abusing these children is very real. But what happens when adults too are affected by food additives? See Graeme's powerful letter, 'I assaulted my wife' below.


Hotlines - can you trust them?


According to the 5% labelling loophole, when an ingredient is added to a product, if that ingredient forms less than 5% of the final product, there is no need to declare any additives in the ingredient. The way this affects us most is with antioxidants 310-312 (gallates) and 319-321(THBQ, BHA, BHT) in oils. If a product such as biscuits, frozen fries or soymilk contains less than 5% vegetable oil (or canola or sunflower oil etc) we must phone the consumer hotline to find which antioxidants are used in the oil. For example, we know that the oil in Arnott's range is failsafe (at the time of writing) - but you must check other brands. Ascorbates and tocopherols (300-309) are failsafe, gallates, BHA, BHT and TBHQ are not.

When failsafer Marnie Little from WA phoned about Signature Range frozen fries, she was told firmly there were no antioxidants in the oil. Marnie couldn't understand why her 3 year old was failing to improve on the elimination diet and seemed to be reacting to their product. Weeks later the company admitted that their product did contain unlisted BHA under the 5% loophole.

In the same month, failsafer Deb Marinello from Victoria phoned Goodman Fielder about Gold n Canola oil when she noticed that previously listed tocopherols had disappeared from the label. The consumer hotline officer advised her firmly that tocopherols had been replaced by TBHQ. I received the same advice. When we pointed out that TBHQ was not listed on the label, the company changed its tune and explained equally firmly that there were no antioxidants in the oil, eventually explaining they had been confused by TBHQ in the New Zealand product. Can we believe them? The wellbeing of our kids depends on word of mouth from people like this.

In general, the bigger the company, the more patronising and less informative the hotline representative. Thumbs down to the Heinz hotline, thumbs up to the makers of Golden Fields canola oil and also to the manufacturers of Sakata plain rice crackers. The people at this little company are doing their best to make sure there are no antioxidants in their oil - the change from "canola oil" to "vegetable oil" on their label is in case Australia allows GM canola oil, so they can switch immediately to non-GM sunflower oil. They are also meticulous about ensuring no contamination of the gluten-free, plain Sakata rice crackers.


Big Food and Big Tobacco


In the midst of the growing obesity epidemic in Westernised countries, the food industry is following the same path as Big Tobacco, arguing that ads for fatty or sugary foods don't make people eat more, they just persuade them to switch loyalties from one brand to another. This is despite a recent study which found that advertisements for a particular chocolate bar boosts overall consumption of chocolate bars. Meanwhile, Sweden, Denmark and Norway prohibit junk food advertising to children and the UK is considering restrictions on such advertising. Further reading: Clare Wilson, Food Kills, New Scientist 29/11/03 p16; Big problems for Big Food as courts reach bursting point: McDonald's has reported its first loss since the Fifties as Americans blame the fast food industry for their obesity epidemic. http://observer.guardian.co.uk/business/ethics/story/0,12651,997084,00.html


Freedom of Information (FOI) request to FSANZ


For many years, the Food Intolerance Network has asked Australia's food regulatory authority and Health Ministers for the scientific evidence upon which approval for propionates (280-283) and ribonucleotides (627, 631, 635) are based. During the complete review of the Food Standards Code, Proposal P150 (March 1997) and various Ministers at various times, promised that "At full assessment, ANZFA will review the existing toxicological evaluations of the additives in the draft proposed standard …to ensure that the public safety has been maintained.". No evidence has ever been provided.

It took a formal FOI request from FIN and nearly six months to be told by FSANZ that "such documents do not exist". There is no available evidence upon which approvals were made, in clear breach of the FSANZ Act.

FSANZ then proceeded, in the absence of any documents, to say that "currently available toxicological data supports the safe use of propionic acid and its salts as food additives and the safe use of ribonucleotides as flavour enhancers for the vast majority of the population"!

So the documents both do not exist and are currently available?

See http://fedup.com.au/information/fin-campaigns/freedom-of-information-from-fsanz  on the website for full correspondence. The matter is being pursued.



Dutch diet trial


After a two week trial of the Few Foods diet, 62% of 40 Dutch ADHD children showed an improvement in behaviour of more than 50%. Nine children (23%) withdrew from the study because they were unable to stick to the diet or because the child fell ill. Researchers concluded that in young children with ADHD, an elimination diet can lead to a statistically significant decrease in symptoms. Pelsser LM, Buitelaar JK, Favourable effect of a standard elimination diet on the behaviour of young children with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Ned Tijdschr Geneeskd, 2002;146(52):2543-7. Are there any Dutch-speaking failsafers who could translate the rest of this article for me?


FIN Submissions to NHMRC on ADHD and Asthma


The Food Intolerance Network has made detailed submissions, including latest research, to the NHMRC revisions of their documents on these two topics. See http://fedup.com.au/information/fin-campaigns/what-you-can-do-to-help


Diet not working as well as you'd hoped?


One tiny mistake can make a huge difference. For fine-tuning, see the list on the website Checklist of common mistakes. With new guidelines for extra sensitive salicylate responders, thanks to Robin from the email discussion group. Readers tell us this list is very useful.


Readers' stories


[311] Sleep and behaviour problems due to asthma medication (December 2003)


I was lucky enough to see you speak in Launceston in September. My husband and I have been at a loss regarding our three-year-old son's frequent nosebleeds, lack of sleep, temper outbursts and all of the other problems associated with a 'normal' toddler's wellbeing. When reading in depth Fed Up With Asthma, we now realise this was probably caused by Singulair Tablets. When our new doctor took him off these he sleeps!!!! and a lot of the other symptoms have subsided. We have an appointment with a failsafe dietitian next month and have been failsafing the pantry over the last 6 weeks. The temper tantrums have been halved with the severity at least a quarter of what they used to be. Thank you for being the one person to listen to a mother in need. - Toni, Tas


[310] Asthma due to salicylates (December 2003)


Since we discovered salicylates, my daughter doesn't need preventative medication anymore although I have made a few slip ups with her diet. Every time she has a reaction I look at what she has eaten and it is always salicylates. For example, she had a reaction to rissoles in the early stages of the diet before I had your books to help me. My dietitian said, 'Did you put pepper in the rissoles?" I hadn't realised pepper was high in salicylates and used it automatically. Last year I bought some "Kids Bananas" from Coles because my daughter never ate more than half of the usual big Cavendish bananas. Two days later her eczema had flared up and then she got asthma. By this time she had eaten three of these bananas. They must have been sugar bananas which are high in salicylates but I didn't know that at the time. During that attack she had to go back on her preventer medication as well as Ventolin but she hasn't needed it since. - failsafer, Qld


[309] Adult with asthma (December 2003)


I am an adult with asthma. I went off milk and sulphite preservatives about 6 months ago, I have not had asthma since (unless I am 'naughty' and have some sulphite). - Elizabeth Grimley, ACT


[308] Asthma bouts improving (December 2003)


Just reporting in on our 3-year-old - we seem to have got through an attack of asthma without prednisolone. What a break-through! We had another good night's sleep - so rare during asthma bouts in the past, and there is a definite improvement on yesterday. Normally his escalating asthma never turns around without corticosteroids. I guess it is early days yet but I am really getting faith in the possibility of sulphite preservatives aggravating the sensitive airways and adding to the other irritations (virus, allergens, irritating particles) to create asthma. It is great to think that we can have some control over one of the components and lessen the health aggravation. - member of the failsafe3 email group


[307] Asthma in elite athletes (2) (December 2003)


I read the story on your website about the soccer player who was eating lots of muesli bars and developed exercise asthma. The same thing happened to my daughter. We thought she had outgrown her asthma but it came back when she started eating muesli bars recommended by her swimming coach. Her asthma got so bad she had to give up swimming with the squad. - Reader, by email


[306] Instant answer to my boys' asthma and eczema (December 2003)


I just want to thank you for doing what you do. When a friend of mine heard you speak in Launceston and brought me back info, I felt that, at last, someone was speaking my language.

Where none of the health professionals had been of much help, I instantly found answers to my boys' asthma and eczema. I got the cookbook and your asthma book a few weeks ago and am so pleased to have found solid, real, useful guidelines to help our family. We haven't done the full elimination diet yet but with the knowledge I gained from your books I was able to retrace which foods did what. The cause of my 3 year old's asthma became obvious (sulphites) when he would eat something out of the ordinary such as 2 apricot fruit bars (which he had not eaten in ages), come home, run around outside and have an asthma attack, which he has not had in ages. My 9-month-old son obviously reacts to salicylates. He's had eczema from birth and when I introduced solids, pumpkin, carrots and prunes gave him asthma soon after he ate them.

I only wish every hospital, health care clinic and GP had your books! - Elisa Dickinson, Tasmania


[305] Asthma - a dietitian's progress (December 2003)


Just updating you on my progress - before starting the elimination diet for my asthma, I was on 500mg of Seretide accuhaler morning and night, I dropped to 250 and was fine so I tried to go off it completely. After a day and a half I was wheezy and tight in my chest so I tried the 100mg dose and have maintained that - which means that I have dropped my asthma medication by 80% on the elimination diet. So far I have passed both the milk and salicylate challenges.

By the way, this has been a great professional development activity that I think will really benefit my future clients. - Dietitian, SA


[304] 'I assaulted my wife' (December 2003)


Last weekend I assaulted my wife and did horrific damage to her face. I have deep regret, humiliation, shame and remorse for my actions. I had been drinking most of the afternoon, then consumed two strawberry sundae tubs of icecream. I did not check the brand so I cannot be certain that the food colours contributed to the way I acted. Although the alcohol is obviously a large contributor, in the past I have never reacted violently after drinking alcohol. However, from the ages 18-25 I experienced panic and violent moods, then I started to look at my diet. Cordials with artificial colours especially red had been a part of my diet and I noticed a link. Since then I have avoided food colours where ever possible, however I simply overlooked the strawberry sundae as I love desserts and was having a good time. I think I have stumbled on to the cause for my actions, but I am not sure. - Graeme, by email


[303] Ribo rash from Meals on Wheels - an open letter (December 2003)


Six months ago, I was rushed off to hospital after waking in the middle of the night feeling edgy and hot with swelling of my face, heart palpitations and welts or hives all over my body. Afterwards, I questioned was it something I ate - the wine, the peanuts?

These awful experiences went on for a period of about four months until my brother saw a segment on A Current Affair about reactions to flavour enhancer 635 (also 627 and 631, ribonucleotides). I had missed the show but immediately got onto the website and as soon as I started reading I knew that was exactly what I had. This information is provided by Sue Dengate at http://www.fedup.com.au on the factsheet called 'Ribo Rash'.

I read everything I purchase, I do not eat anything if I do not know exactly what is in it, before I go to a function I speak with the chef or caterers. When dining I choose a meal and then request that the chef can assure me that there is no 635 added. I went through my pantry and discarded any foods with 635 in the ingredients and have not had a reaction of any kind for about two months which is a wonderful breakthrough for me, after experiencing reactions 3-4 times a week.

I request that you please take the time to read the attached information, as my parents are both experiencing similar reactions. My stepfather has a chronic rash and my mother gets hives at least one night a week. They receive 'Meals on Wheels' and my stepfather says it is usually after rissoles, stew or soup. Therefore I request that you read the ingredients that you are adding for flavour to these meals. Purchased chickens from Woolworths have the additive in the stuffing, Coles marinated fresh chickens contain 635, Red Rooster have in on the outside, even some chicken salt has it as well as some stocks, tinned and packet sauces and soups. Potato chips, CC’s and other flavour enhanced foods are all to be avoided but there are plenty of substitutes, it just means being more vigilant as to what is served.

The elderly in aged care facilities and even patients in hospitals are experiencing these reactions due to flavour enhancer 635. There are plenty of natural herbs and spices that can be added to food for flavour. A lot of suffering and possibly even death is being caused by this additive.

Thanking you.

Mrs E. M. R. Lloyd, Frenchville. Q4701, Ph. 49 289094

[302] Toddler diarrhoea and unmanageable behaviour (December 2003)


My 2yr old has had chronic diarrhoea for 5 months. Before that, his stools have always fluctuated. Along with the diarrhoea, he gets a spotty rash on his face, throws things, hits, kicks, screams and is generally unmanageable. When he eats certain things like commercial bread and wheat products, the next day he poos water. I had him back and forth to doctors who treated me like I was an idiot. Finally we were sent to a pediatrician who ordered blood tests and stool analyses. When the results came back, he told me there was nothing wrong with him, he just had toddler diarrhoea and told me to put him on half an immodium tablet a day to fix his diarrhoea. Because I was getting no joy from doctors and my son was getting sicker daily, I took him off wheat, dairy and most sugars. He slowly started to improve, but it wasn't good enough. I now have him on a full elimination diet, no wheat, gluten or lactose, salicylates, amines and glutamates. He started improving straightaway (only one water poo in the first five days which was a miracle).

We're still waiting to see a gastrointestinal pediatrician, but other doctors have told me he wouldn't have an intolerance to things. I know he does because the change is dramatic, and even his behaviour has improved. He seems to react to salicylates, it's amazing to read these things when you've noticed something but didn't understand it. My five-year-old son has improved too and when he breaks the diet he says he feels "like his brain wants to puke". I hope more health professionals will become aware of the damage additives and other food chemicals can cause. - Vicky, Victoria


[301] Oppositional defiance (December 2003)


After months of struggling with my 4½ y.o. son's behaviour, I stumbled upon the www.fedup.com.au website. I have refused to believe suggestions (from carers etc) that he has ADD. My son is very bright and intelligent, and I simply did not want him medicated unnecessarily. Now that I have found this website and the information on oppositional defiance (which describes my son to a T!) I have a place to start. I have started to cut foods high in additives from his diet and have already noticed a change in his behaviour after only a couple of weeks. The really good thing is that after I explained to him that his bad behaviour could be caused by these things in food, he has been quite happy to not eat them, and even asks me first to check if there is anything bad in his food. I am so grateful for the website. - Reader, NSW


[300] Dramatic improvement in speech delay (December 2003)


Our nearly two year old twin girls are awaiting a psychology assessment to determine whether they have autism. They both have a few symptoms especially lack of language - only use the words Mum, Dad, Nan, Bub, no and hello. Their understanding is slow although we feel this is improving. Although both show a few signs they also have signs that keep us hopeful that the girls do not have autism. They have fairly good eye contact and are very affectionate little girls. After researching for hours on the internet, I started the girls on a gluten free and dairy free diet last week. By the end of the day, one of the twins (who would normally use maybe one word a month) had not stopped using her basic words and was making new sounds. Within days they had both improved very noticeably. At first I thought it couldn't work that fast but whilst reading your books I have a different view and realise it might be lack of the bread preservative. - Reader, Tas


MORE READERS' STORIES on the website


Product updates




Sara Lee Honeycomb and Butterscotch Icecream

Fruccio Caramel and Vanilla frozen soy dessert

Approximate fat content for weight watching:



grams of fat per 100 ml

sat fat per 100 ml

Sara Lee



Peters Original vanilla









Darryl Lea white Jelly Beans now contain bubblegum flavour, definitely not failsafe, see www.sweettreats.com.au for alternatives.


7UP now contains sodium benzoate preservative (211). Alternatives are Schweppes and the new Cottee's lemonade both in bottles not cans. Note that these are not fully failsafe because the natural flavour is lemon juice and they are limited to 200 ml per week (about one glass!).


Devondale Dairysoft contains unlabelled BHA 320 in the canola oil component which is not covered by the 5% labelling loophole since the product contains 27% canola oil. See feature on the website.


Meadlowlea and other margarines may contain sorbic acid or sorbates (200-203) which is increasingly being added to margarines and other products. It is not failsafe. You won’t see a big reaction but the effects will creep up slowly.


McCains Healthy Choice Wedges and Fries are healthy at the moment but won't be for long, they are about to add unlabelled BHA (320) to their oil.


Plain chips (Lays and Kettle) - one failsafer reported of a packet of plain Lay's chips tasting of sour cream and chives flavour, another reported a similar problem with plain Kettle chips tasting of BBQ flavour. Contamination from manufacturing lines can be enough to cause reactions in sensitive children.


Failsafe sausages - ask about ingredients: ' I recently bought some beef sasusages from Sam the Butcher at San Souci and found that they add paprika for colour. They may be preservative-free but they have a spice that sent my kids troppo' - Karyn, Sydney


Coles uncooked chicken 'I was horrified to see in a Coles supermarket this week, uncooked chickens in the meat department in sealed plastic bags with the wording Coles marinated chicken. On closer inspection, I noticed it had 635 flavour enhancer. The chicken just looked like all the other uncooked chickens unless you looked closely. Now it will be a problem eating a home cooked chicken at a friends place, not knowing which chicken they cooked! - Wendy, by email


Usanimals for your information, I have tried one Usanimals vitamin tablet for my 8 year old - this was before we tried the failsafe diet and he was bouncing off the walls for the whole day. - reader, NSW


Have any salicylate responders noticed a reaction to the Heinz caramel creamed rice compared to the Heinz vanilla creamed rice?

Your questions:


Q. We gave our son some soda bicarb in a glass of magic cordial when he was having one of his hissy fits and he calmed down immediately. How does this work?


A. Salicylates and similar food chemicals (colours, preservatives) delay gastric emptying and accumulate in the stomach thus allowing continuing absorption. Sodium bicarbonate increases excretion by increasing the pH of the urine. It is used in hospitals when patients present with acute or chronic salicylate poisoning. According to many failsafers, half a cup of soda bicarb in the bath water works 'brilliantly' for both eczema and behaviour, and can be used 3 times a day. Many mothers say that 1/8 tsp in a glass of water works well but not if used more than once a day. Adults can have 1 tsp up to 3 times a day. If you have to break your diet (eg Christmas day), don't wait for reactions to appear. Take soda bicarb as soon as possible.


Q. I tried your pavlova recipe and it turned out brown and rubbery. What did I do wrong?


A. There are two possible causes. First, don't over-beat the egg white and so break down the protein fibres. Whip it to stiff peaks and then add the sugar. Second, make sure that all the sugar is fully dissolved in the egg white by beating for long enough. The stiff baked structure depends on water being taken from the egg white by the dissolved sugar. Test by putting a little bit of the mixture on your tongue - if you can feel any crystals, keep beating.


Q. I know I get migraines from MSG but I have had a migraine for two days so far from eating a Divine Classic Passionfruit Pannacotta by www.natfoods.com.au. As it didn't have any flavour enhancers I thought it would be OK. It has 8 numbers including 1442 Halal Gelatine Thickener, 410 Vegetable Gum, 415 Vegetable Gum, 466 Vegetable Gum, 331 Food Acid, 120 Natural Colour, 160b natural Colour, 200 Preservative. Which one would be the culprit?


A. Vegetable gums, thickeners and food acids are generally OK. Natural colour 160b (annatto) has been associated with violent headaches (and headbanging in toddlers) and preservative 200 (sorbic acid) can be a problem. You might also have to worry about natural food chemicals called salicylates or amines. Passionfruit is very high in both and is much more concentrated in a dessert syrup than a fresh passionfruit.


Q. We started on the elimination diet for our 2-year-old with eczema a week ago. There was no improvement and the eczema has spread each day until now the only parts of her body not covered with this lumpy raised itchy rash are her feet and her upper back. Please help! I am trying so hard to do the right thing by her, only I seem to be making it worse. The eczema started about the time she started solids at 6months. We have creams and oils that I put on her at least 3 times a day and even in the night when the itch wakes her up.


A. This problem turned out to be herbal creams containing salicylates. When the mother switched to soda-bicarb baths 3 times a day, her daughter's eczema started improving, but flared up dramatically for a week after 8 Darryl Lea White Jelly Beans (see product warning). A girl with a similar eczema problem was using a doctor-prescribed cream containing methyl salicylate. Salicylates in medications and herbs are well-absorbed through skin and must be avoided during the elimination diet.


Q. I have not found references to tinnitus as a symptom in your Cookbook yet increased tinnitus is a sure sign of a food reaction for me. What do you think?


A. Sorry, that is an oversight. Tinnitus (the sensation of sounds in the ears in the absence of an external sound source) is a well documented side-effect of salicylates in drugs and foods, as well as food colours and preservatives. It tends to be age-related, rarely occurring in children, frequently occurring in over-65s.


Q. I wish someone told me that the best way of preventing future allergies may be not to feed the usual allergenic foods to young babies (wheat, eggs, fish, milk etc) when my son was weaned from breastfeeding. He is now allergic (not just intolerant) to all these food groups. How are parents supposed to know until it is too late?


A. It is recommended that mothers of babies with a family history of true allergy (asthma, eczema, hayfever) avoid the main allergens (as above, but also especially nuts) during the last month of pregnancy and during breastfeeding, and delay introduction of these foods to their babies. See Fed Up with Asthma for more information.


Q. I wrote to you early this year about my son's skin ('incessant picking/scratching at his skin. It's as though his whole body is alive and crawling and he just can't keep his hands off it. At night in bed he scratches non-stop until he finally drifts off to sleep'). When I couldn't link it to any particular food, you suggested garlic. You were right. Not one of the numerous doctors and other health professionals we saw mentioned that. How on earth did you know?


A. I had the same problem with itching when I had infectious hepatitis. I was so itchy I would scratch my skin with a wire hairbrush yet there was no rash. Garlic turned out to be a big problem. You might want to have your son tested for hepatitis.


Q. Sam Tinsley's lollipops are quite a hit with the kids. Is cochineal OK?


A. Cochineal is made from beetles not plants and is safe unless you come from an allergic (as opposed to intolerant) family. Be careful if you have a family history of allergy to horses or insects. There have been a few reports of occupational asthma and one report of non-occupational asthma worldwide but no intolerance effects. If buying cochineal for yourself, make sure it is preservative-free. Glucose syrup contains sulphites but when it has been heated commercially to very high temperatures, as it would have to be to get such hard, opaque lollipops, the sulphites have probably all been driven off. So far there have been no reports of reactions to the lollipops (www.sweettreats.com.au) despite extensive testing by enthusiastic failsafers. Thanks to all those who were so understanding when the Christmas candy canes travelled badly and arrived in pieces.


Q. My daughter was diagnosed last year with petit mal, the mildest form of epilepsy, when I noticed that she was 'zoning out' every now and then. I didn't think too much about it but when I mentioned it to the pediatrician, he said this form of epilepsy is common in young children and ordered tests. She has to take medication twice a day. If she misses one day of medicine, she doesn't 'zone out'. But after about 3 days, it starts back up again. Is there a chance that changing her diet might help with her condition?


A. If there is a history of food intolerance such as migraines in the family, it is worth a try (see factsheet on website). You might like to switch immediately to preservative-free bread. A number of families have reported similar 'zoning out' reactions to the bread preservative (282). Artificial colours are another group of additives worth avoiding. If that doesn't work it's probably worth trying the full failsafe diet.


Q. I'm just wondering what's involved in being a support person? I've notice that country Victoria is not represented and the way people treat you when you try and discuss issues with them. Our local Bakers Delight has been wonderful with their assistance but supermarket shopping takes hours. I'm sure I could get a few families together.


A. Thank you for your offer. We prefer contact people to have followed the elimination diet for at least three weeks under the supervision of a dietitian (if possible); completed at least two challenges; and belonged to an email discussion group for at least a month (if possible) - although we do realise that not everyone can do this. There are big benefits in failsafe families getting together to organise foods such as sausages, bread, treats, failsafe-friendly dietitians and other health professionals, or support in schools. Everyone does it differently. Some people run meetings, or local email groups, or offer telephone or email contact. We can lend you videos if you want to run a few meetings. If you'd like to be on the contact list, send me your email address or phone number and I can refer people to you.


Q. When we challenged MSG, my daughter's bedwetting returned. Is this a typical characteristic of MSG?


A. As with other symptoms, children are different and can be affected by any of the usual suspects. MSG has been implicated with bedwetting.


Q. My ten-year-old son's behaviour, concentration and bedwetting have improved on the elimination diet but seems to have a reverse effect on my 4-year-old daughter. She has become quite out of character - very disruptive at preschool and even to the extent of being rude to the teacher. She has also had bouts of teariness. Have you heard of this happening before?


A. When children get worse on the diet it is usually because they are eating a lot more of an item such as dairy foods or wheat, or a new item such as soymilk. See the checklist of common mistakes. You are welcome to send a list of everything your daughter eats in a day for me to check for possible culprits.


Q. There is no doubt at all in my mind about the great affect that foods have on my children although it has taken me about 3 years to accept it. But I still can not get my head around why dairy foods cause such a behavioural response with my daughter. When eating dairy foods, she gets dark rings around her eyes, and is not just bad, she is impossible to live with. I just can not understand how a food can affect her in this way. Her oppositional defiance is incredible. It is also as if she is completely deaf. Her voice becomes so loud it makes me cringe and it also becomes a lot higher in pitch. She is not affectionate at all and is very serious as well. It is as if she has complete focus, driven, locked in, intense, not able to snap out of her bad behaviour. It is only now (she is 5 1/2 years of age) that I am starting to bond with my daughter in a calm and loving way, before this it has been a desperate, lost love.

Since she has been dairy-free she listens, talks more quietly and without intensity, she lets me cuddle her, she does not get locked into bad behaviour and we can negotiate together. She has always been strong willed and very smart but now I can enjoy it. I am so happy now. I guess if there was a logical explanation for this huge behavioural response I would stop questioning my judgement so much. Because it is just behavioural, you can tell our peer group think it is our parenting and they also question the failsafe food idea as a bit odd. I guess what I am trying to ask is how can food affect the voice, make you deaf, fearless, and completely oppositional? - reader, Qld


A. Researchers at Sydney's Royal Prince Alfred Hospital Allergy Clinic suggest that certain chemicals in foods cause an irritation of the nerve endings. With dairy foods, researchers at CSIRO in 1985 found that hyperactive children excrete five times more of a chemical called para-cresol than non-hyperactives. Para-cresol is a breakdown product of the amino acid tyrosine which occurs in large amounts in dairy foods. Para-cresol is known to be neurotoxic to rodents and is also permitted as an unlisted food additive in artificial flavours. Presumably, it depends which nerve endings are irritated as to which symptoms develop. There is a wide range of symptoms including loud voice, seems not to listen, temper outbursts, etc. During my bread preservative study, I noticed that loud voice was the symptom most often reported as improving by mothers, yet I have never seen it mentioned in the medical literature. If you ever get a chance to go to one of my talks, you would probably enjoy to see the "Little Monsters" video that I show of juvenile offenders in Britain - you can see the huge difference that 3 weeks of diet makes to their behaviour, and it might make you feel better to know that you are not the only one.

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

Around the groups: getting in touch


Email discussion groups


Email support groups are immensely popular and have over 600 members in total. There are now three big general groups and an increasing number of special interest or regional groups. Failsafebaby (to subscribe, email 'subscribe' in the subject-line to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.) is off to a strong start and has been expanded to include toddlers and children of any age who still need Neocate. New regional groups include finAd (Adelaide and South Australia), finNT (Northern Territory) and finCant (Canterbury NZ). See more details on the failsafe support Factsheet on the website.

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

New failsafers in Singapore would like to get in touch with others because Jenni, our former Singapore contact, has moved. Email via This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .


Support contacts


There are now over 64 support contacts in Australia, New Zealand and overseas - see website.


Talks and television


None scheduled. Contact Sue Dengate if you want to arrange a talk in 2004.




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

We loved this comment from one satisfied failsafer:

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

Cooks' corner


Christmas dinner


A traditional hot roast dinner can be failsafe. If you want to add some extras for Christmas day, consider pumpkin, sweet potato, parsnips or corn as extra vegetables, all moderate except corn which is high. If buying a supermarket turkey, check for added flavour enhancers (MSG, HVP, ribonucleotides 621-635). If you can manage amines, some commercial gravy mixes aren't too bad, avoid flavour enhancers above. As a Christmas pudding substitute, try steamed dominion pudding (Failsafe Cookbook p168 - we found a stainless steel pudding steamer in a kitchen shop); or Andra's 'honey roll' made as a cake and served with whipped cream (p134, 'better than sticky date pudding' said one father); or icecream with the exceptionally delicious caramel sauce on p154. You can pour whisky or gin over icecream or pudding for a special occasion flavour, but you can't set it alight like brandy. See the first question above about what to do if you break your diet.


Howard's pear icecream with dairyfree option


3/4 cup sugar

1 egg

3/4 cup water

1 cup canned pears in syrup (drained and blended)

200 ml light cream

Mix together according to your icecream maker's instructions. For dairy free, use 1 cup sugar, 1 egg, 1 cup canned pears in syrup (drained and blended), 1 and a half cups soymilk. For a special dessert, serve with the exceptionally delicious caramel sauce on p154 of the Failsafe Cookbook.


Erica's prize winning gf pear loaf


A moist loaf which won first prize at the Royal Darwin Show. Congratulations, Erica!

1/4 cup boiling water

1 cup finely chopped tinned pear

1/4 cup pear juice (from tin)

2 tablespoons butter or nuttelex

1 egg (beaten)

3/4 cup brown sugar

1 1/2 cups GF SR flour

Preheat oven to 180 degrees. Pour boiling water over chopped pears and allow to stand for 10 mins. Add butter or nuttelex, egg, sugar and flour. Mix well. Place in loaf pan and bake at 180 degrees for 45 mins. Cool on cake cooler. Serve sliced with butter or nuttelex. - Erica Waite



The FAILSAFE Newsletter: You can have this Newsletter emailed to you for free about every two months. Subscribe: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. Frontpage: http://groups.yahoo.com/group/failsafe_newsletter


© Sue Dengate (text) PO Box 85 Parap NT 0804, Australia. This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. Thanks to Diance Pracy, Karyn Longford, Wendy Vine, Wendy Anderson, Deb Marinello, Marnie Little, Andra Somerville and all others who have contributed to this newsletter. Further reading: The Simplified Elimination Diet from dietitians, Fed Up, Fed Up with Asthma, the Failsafe Cookbook and Different Kids by Sue Dengate Random House, and Friendly Food, by Swain and others, Murdoch Books.

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