Fedup Newsletters




Newsletter of the Food Intolerance Network

August - October 2003


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.




Australian food intolerance conference

Thailand bans MSG and other food additives in school meals

Low-additive school canteens, food intolerance in schools


Research MSG can seriously affect heart rhythm


In brief: perfume petition, sunshine


Readers' stories: [276] - [299]


Product updates: Many positive changes


Cooks Corner: Oriental 2-minute noodles, Mrs Cattle's biscuits, popples, rice puffs

Hi Everyone

It's good news time. Thailand has become the first country in the world to take the step of banning food additives in school meals. If' you'd like to see that happen in Australia, see the article below 'Low-additive school canteens'. Other stories include Rosy Hill's fascinating description of a week as a pioneer family, and a report of low-salicylate meals from Qantas. Plus exciting news of our first ever food intolerance (not to be confused with allergy) conference, and more …


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


Australian food intolerance conference


Australia's first food intolerance conference 'Fed Up with Food' will be held in Launceston, Tasmania, on Thursday 11th September. It will be preceded by a day's workshop for dietitians with Dr Anne Swain and evening sessions for health professionals. Thursday's lineup includes keynote addresses by Dr Anne Swain and Sue Dengate and concurrent workshops on the following topics: dealing with schools (failsafe presenter), birthday parties (failsafe presenter), diet for teenagers (presented by a failsafe teenager), asthma (Sue Dengate), and testing for true food allergies (presented by Hobart dietitian Janet Howells).

We understand that dietitians from all over Tasmania will be attending the dietitians' workshop, and that bookings are pouring in for the main conference.

More information from Megan 03 6382 2561, Annette 03 6343 1964, or Kate 03 6393 1573 or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


Thanks to Megan Gunn, Annette Wyley and Kate Penrose of the Food Intolerance Network (Launceston) for their extraordinary foresight and hard work in organising this Australian-first conference.


Thailand bans MSG and other food additives in school meals


The Education Ministry in Thailand has decided to ban the flavour enhancer monosodium glutamate (MSG) from school meals, along with all other food additives that pose potential health risks to children.

Any firms supplying food to schools found to be using MSG after the start of the next semester would face legal action, Deputy Education Minister Sirikorn Maneerin announced in March, 2003. Suppliers would also be told to immediately cease using all illegal food additives, she said.

``We don't want school food to be contaminated with any artificial substances. In particular, MSG will be banned,'' she said. ``I have often found myself suffering from numb jaws after eating food with MSG.''

From: Sirikul Bunnag, Ministry Bans MSG, other food additives in school dinners, Bangkok post, Thursday 06 March 2003


Low-additive school canteens, food intolerance in schools


If you would like a low-additive policy at your school, send two emails now to support recommendations (below) in the 'Health of School Age Children in the ACT' report. Helping these recommendations to become policy will ultimately benefit all Australian children.

You can make your opinion count by sending emails to the ACT ministers for health and education, the Hon. Simon Corbell MLA, Minister for Health (This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.) and the Hon Katie Gallagher MLA, Minister for Education, (This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.), 'Dear Minister …' Say that you support recommendations 7 and 8 (below) and give reasons why. They don't have to be detailed reasons. Your story about food additives or food intolerance would do, or you can say that you have seen what food intolerance does to children. Our contact in Canberra can help you to find it, phone Sheryl, 02 6294 1720.

The two recommendations which affect food intolerance are:


Recommendation 7:


The Committee recommends that the Government require schools to minimise the sale and use of foods containing high fats, high sugars, artificial colours, flavours and preservatives from ACT school canteens and, in consultation with appropriate experts, introduce an alternative menu which offers healthy choices in all school canteens. This requirement should also apply to contracts where schools canteen services are outsourced.


Recommendation 8:


The Committee recommends that the Government, as part of the Nutrition Strategy:

* undertake an education program to increase awareness of the effects of food intolerance in the community.

* Put in place a policy that when children are identified with behaviour problems, dietary management should be investigated and offered as a management option; and

* Offer dietary management as part of the rehabilitation process for juvenile offenders.






MSG can seriously affect heart rhythm


Half an hour after eating wonton soup in a Chinese restaurant, a 36 year old man developed a burning feeling in his chest, face and neck, excessive sweating, and felt extremely weak. The burning feeling in his chest progressed to severe chest pressure, palpitations and pain radiating to both shoulders and upper arms. On arrival at hospital, he was found to have ventricular tachycardia, a serious heart arrythmia. Treatment with intravenous lidocaine restored normal heart rhythm within 3 minutes and the patient's other symptoms also disappeared. Doctors concluded that 'MSG might produce potentially serious heart arrythmias' in some people. A friend who was with the patient also experienced weakness, chest tightness and a tingling sensation in both forearms which resolved without treatment.

Gann D, Ventricular tachycardia in a patient with the 'Chinese Restaurant Syndrome', Southern Medical Journal, 1977;70(7):879-880.



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.


In brief


Perfume petition: There are currently over 100,000 man made chemicals in our lives and this figure increases annually. Most of these chemicals are not assessed for toxicity or regulated by government. Fragrances can contain as many as 100 different ingredients and are mixtures of solvents, other toxic and allergenic substances, with little known about the toxicology of mixtures. Many individuals in the community are sensitive to fragranced products, detergents, disinfectants, air fresheners, and others. Senator Len Harris has agreed to present a petition regarding the use of perfumed products in health care facilities (This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.). You can print out the petition, sign it and return it to the address at the end of the petition.


Sunshine: Scientists in the US warn that some exposure to sunlight on bare skin is essential, despite skin cancer scares. Sunshine on skin cells is one of two sources of Vitamin D. (The other source is foods such as oily fish and dairy products. Dairy substitutes such as Nuttelex have added Vitamin D). Although Vitamin D's best known function is enabling calcium to be absorbed by the gut, new research suggests that Vitamin D is implicated in protection against some cancers. People who may benefit from moderate exposure to sunshine include the elderly, those with dark skin, children who do not play outside, people who cover up for religious reasons and people who do not go outside because of illness - such as CFS. Dr Michael Holick recommends as guidelines the following approximate exposures to the sun two or three times a week at midday in summer: in London 10 minutes for fair skin, 45 minutes for black; in Boston: 5/25; in Sydney 5/20. 'Bring me sunshine', New Scientist, 9/8/03, p30-33.


Readers' stories


[299] Pioneer Week (September 2003)


During the holidays we had been watching American settler re-enactments on TV and my eldest daughter said 'we could do that easily'. So we decided to do our own pioneer re-enactment in the week before school went back.

As we live on a family farm, we still had a lot of pioneer stuff about so perhaps we were able to go about it in greater detail than most.

A day's program was: get up at 6.30 am, collect wood and start a fire outside to cook on. Cart water from the rainwater tap to a basin in the bathroom for washing hands and self (with Velvet soap only). Another bucket of water for tea and cooking was carried into the house. While the kids fed the chooks and geese, I cooked scones in a camp oven and boiled the billy. Once the scones were cooked, I dropped eggs in the camp oven to cook in the remaining heat. We used homemade butter and golden syrup on the scones and salt on eggs, because pioneers didn't use flavourings such as pepper, herbs or tomato sauce. After breakfast we washed up with Velvet soap (rinsing well), first dishes, then face and hands. Teeth were brushed with an index finger dipped in seasalt.

During the day we hand-sewed place mats from bread flour bags with cotton from the tops of rolled oat sacks and embroidered them. We spent one whole day washing clothes and sheets with Velvet soap and Lux flakes in a copper heated by a fire outside, hand wrung and hung on a rope line between trees.

We also baked biscuits in the camp oven from a family recipe given to my Grandmother. She would be 110 now if she was still alive.

Mrs. Cattle Biscuits: 8oz SR flour, 1 egg, 4oz sugar, 3oz butter. Mix all ingredients and shape into small balls, put onto tray and bake in a moderate oven for 10 to 15 minutes. For variations, mix in coconut or put an almond or a drop of jam on top or add cocoa to the mixture. This mix was also pressed in trays and covered with golden syrup and crumble mix on top and cut into slices before cool.

For lunch and tea we ate fresh chops or chicken (dressed that day) with Laucke bread baked in the camp oven and vegetables which were growing in the garden at that time (silver beet, parsley, carrots, potatoes, shallots) or poached eggs on toast. I cooked the chicken in golden syrup and water then after the cooked chicken had been removed from the pot, we cooked golden syrup dumplings in the water. They had a fantastic flavour.

We removed all plastics from the kids' rooms (such as Barbie and bits), leaving them with only a chair, desk, beds, four books, paints (not acrylic dry blocks), pencils and a skipping rope. Their clothes were two sets of simple dresses and jumpers made from cotton or wool, leading to a complaint that they were 'dumb things to wear carting water on cold mornings, Mum, give me jeans.'

We ate at night by candlelight and played old board games. We played my daughter's Suzuki violin CD over and over as the pioneers only had one record. We gave the kids a torch for going to bed as they had not lived with candles and we felt it was not safe.

The result was amazing. The kids became more agreeable and instructions didn't have to be repeated until shouted to get a response, which had happened frustratingly too often before our Pioneer Week.

My youngest became less grumpy and the eldest less fragile and teary. Both stopped being picky eaters and ate with relish. The eldest's singing which was usually flat became tuneful because her hearing improved. They anticipated and showed more thought about what they were doing instead of being 'Tigger with Rabbit worries'. Life became gentler at home. The background frustration and noise decreased a lot and they took on new things faster. This change persisted for a while after school started then reverted as we reverted to our original diet.

I was diagnosed with salicylate/amine/additive intolerance 20 years ago, so I have never had a diet full of additives or the rest. But as the kids were getting older, I was bowing down to peer and social pressures, arguing in my head that their bodies were bigger so could handle additives better. I was wrong. We are now doing the elimination diet after two weeks of a take-away, additive binge, to make sure of all our symptoms. The kids are loving it and it is easier than the pioneer week because we use modern conveniences such as electricity and running water. A modified Pioneer Week would be a fun introduction to the elimination diet which sounds ominous and is not the current retro trend. - Rosy Hill, South Australia



[298] Dettol dilemma (September 2003)


Our son was bouncing off the walls for days after two doses of Dettol within 3 days (one from preschool, one from Nanny). Of course when I told nanny and the teacher, they both did well to humour me and to contain their disbelief. My sister - a pharmacist - sent me the chemical breakdown and the pharmacists' notes, it read like this:

Ingredients: Active: CHLOROXYLENOL (chlorinated antiseptic) Inactive: ISOPROPYL ALCOHOL (antiseptic) ETHANOL (handwash contains tartrazine). Contra-indications: not recommended to bath infants up to nine months because of the inability of the infant to detoxify chloroxylenol and benzalkonium chloride. Precautions: Can cause skin irritations.

In the individual breakdown of each of the ingredients, there were also references to medical journal cases of poisoning (i.e 'severe Dettol poisoning'); this warning about Isopropyl alcohol 'the lethal dose by mouth is reported to be 250ml, however toxic symptoms may be produced by as little as 20ml'; this one ' Inhalation of isopropyl alcohol vapour has been known to induce coma' and this is my favourite 'Application of Isopropyl alcohol to the skin may cause dryness and irritation; suitable precautions should be taken to prevent absorption through the skin'.

My sister also gave me a word of advice in dealing with those doubting Thomases who think that absorption through the skin is a load of rubbish. Nicotine and hormone replacement patches work! - Kelli from the discussion group



[297] Mouth ulcers from face cream (September 2003)


I have an aspirin intolerance and it took me ages to work out that my chronic mouth ulcers were being caused by beta hydroxy acid in my face cream because it is easily absorbed through the skin.- by email



[296] Rough, dry skin responds to failsafe (September 2003)


My teenage daughter has slapped cheek syndrome, which leaves her with rough, dry skin on her cheeks, upper arms and inner thighs. After trying a variety of conventional and alternative treatments over many years, she has been religiously following the failsafe diet for about three weeks now. She chose to also eliminate all dairy foods. We have already noticed a huge improvement in her skin. So far she is very keen to stick with the diet and doesn't want to attempt any challenges yet! She must be feeling great! - email, ACT



[295] Acne rosacea responds to failsafe (September 2003)


We started the failsafe diet in May 2002 after advice from a friend and it has had many interesting 'side effects', all of them good. We have had the usual wonderful behavioural changes in all members of the family and I don't know if any one else has reported this but if I stay 100% failsafe my acne rosacea goes (the scars don't but makeup covers them). I have taken many drugs for over the last 15 years for this condition and now I find that all forms of dairy give me pimples and cysts while flavour enhancers start up the vein ridden, red and sore rosacea. I am 34 now and don't want to look hideous in public any longer.- Viv, ACT



[294] Bi-carb really works (September 2003)


I have successfully used bi-carb to curb reactions in my 2-year-old. I just add about 1/2 cup of bi-carb to the bath water. I have also given her 1/4 teaspoon of it in water, and that worked really well. - Renee, failsafebaby group



[293] 282:Screaming and constant diarrhoea in a baby due to bread preservative (September 2003)


Right from the minute she was born my daughter Laura was a nightmare. She screamed and screamed and screamed some more. I went around the twist. I had two children under two and it was hard to be up all night with this child and then carry her around all day. The minute I sat her down she would start screaming. I spoke to clinic sisters, doctors, friends and all gave me various degrees of advice. I kept saying that Laura is reacting to my breastmilk but was laughed at and told that that wasn't possible. I now know that I was right and the bread that I was consuming was giving this poor child a huge bellyache.

Life for the first 13 months was, and I won't lie, pure hell. People started treating me like I had PND but it was just this difficult behaviour in the baby. It had not eased with introducing solids and I by now had changed a million pooey nappies. Still everybody told me this was OK.

At 13 months, I weaned Laura and she became a little better at sleeping but we still got a poo every nappy and her temperament was a little better. I continued with trying to cope and did the best I could all the while feeling that something was wrong. By 16 months I was getting worried about the nappies as they were causing her terrible pain in nappy rash. As we had moved towns I consulted a new group of clinic sisters and doctors. I had one clinic sister take notice and suggested that I get an appointment with a stomach and bowel doctor. I went to the local GP and was laughed at that this was so extreme and that it was fast transient time of food. This same doctor was consulted again at 18 months and he said that it was toddler diarrhoea. OK. When Laura's new sister was christened when Laura was 20 months we finally discovered what we think is wrong. We went to my husband's family farm and stayed for two and a half weeks. In that time all meals were cooked. No toast, no bread, no sandwiches, no diarrhoea, no nappy rash, sleeping through the night. I went from a child who had 10 runny burning nappies a day to 1 flushable nappy in a matter of days. Laura was cured.

I have since seen the GP who suggested I stay away from bread but gave me no help in finding out why bread was a problem. I went to the clinic sister and asked but to no avail. Then my sister heard about RPA's allergy unit and I was on the phone to them. Wow!!! Within minutes I had my answers. They explained the link between 282 and stomach upsets and runny nappies. They sent me the suggested shopping list and then made me an appointment. I felt like a huge weight had been lifted off my shoulders and now Laura is going great guns. My little girl is happy and sleeping through the night and has yet to react on her diet (day 25). I am lucky because I only did 10 days on no wheat no diary and no soy and have already challenged milk and wheat flour. So far so good.

This is Laura's story and I am so lucky but it is infuriating that nobody listened to me. Doctors were quick to dismiss this problem but our food was affecting her and I was giving it to her thinking I was doing well by feeding her healthy bread. Thank goodness for people like you. My son's preschool teacher recently went to Canberra for your talk and made me aware of your books and website. Thank you thank you thank you. We are now having an afternoon tea information session on food at the preschool and will include all we know about food and the nasties that can be in it. Now we can educate other parents and try and help our community. - Rose, ACT



[292] Not strict enough (September 2003)


We've been trying the diet for four months without a lot of clarity probably because we were not strict enough. With your book and information we hope to get further. - reader, South Australia



[291] Life is easier (September 2003)


It seems that everywhere I go I hear of people who have attended one of your talks on food intolerance. It really helps people to understand what I am contending with. Just thought that you would appreciate knowing how your work is making life a little easier in my world! Thank you! - failsafer, by email



[290] At last I have a name for my son's behaviour (September 2003)


After reading your book Fed Up, at last I can put a name to my 10 year old ADHD son's bad behaviour: oppositional defiance. I know that he reacts to preservatives and have tried to avoid obvious food colours but this is not enough to make a difference so I am going to try the failsafe diet.- by email



[289] The Clayton's diet … the speech therapist was so amazed (September 2003)


A friend of a friend with two young children visited a dietitian who put them on what I can only describe as a Clayton's failsafe diet ... not quite fully failsafe. For example, the dietitian told her that it was perfectly ok for her children to eat McDonalds/Red Rooster chips...

She was introduced to my wife and got into a conversation about real failsafe diets. After 4 days on the real diet, she rang my wife crying with happiness. Her son had settled down to what she considered a 'normal child' to be. His aggression was gone, his tendencies to distraction had disappeared and his sleep had increased by two hours a night. In his first speech therapy session since starting on the real diet, he suddenly managed to recognise 40 words (from picture cards) as well as all primary and secondary colours, where his previous best attempt at word recognition was 8 words. The speech therapist was so amazed that she has already started researching failsafe dieting. The dietitian who put her on the Clayton's diet has now started looking seriously at the failsafe diet instead. It's been two weeks now and our friend is seeing the pediatrician who put her son on Ritalin this week to see about getting him off it completely. She's 100% sure that he doesn't need it at all any more. And remember the sister? She was a chronic asthmatic, but she hasn't needed a puffer since a few days after starting the diet. - from an email discussion group, with permission



[288] Finding out about asthma and food chemicals (September 2003)


What you say in your book 'Fed Up with Asthma' about food intolerances making the airways sensitive to triggers like viruses is what happened to my daughter. She is intolerant to salicylates, although it took a long time for me to find out. When she was two years old, I had noticed that her eczema seemed to flare up a day or two after eating spaghetti. I mentioned this to a dietitian I was seeing for other health problems. She said that it could be salicylates, so I stopped giving my daughter spaghetti and tomatoes, but she still had eczema. Then when she turned three, she started getting asthma. The doctor always said that the asthma was triggered by a virus but there were times where she would get asthma without having a virus first.

At the Child Care/Kindy Christmas Party, the only thing they had to drink was cordial. My daughter had never had any fruit juice or cordial to drink up to this time, only water or milk, but we gave her half a cup of cordial to drink because she was thirsty and we hadn't brought any drinks with us. That night she had asthma. About a month later her father gave her a Winnie the Pooh Raspberry fruit drink and she also had asthma that night. When I told the doctor about this, she said did I think it was the colour? but didn't do anything, just told me about treatment.

My daughter was now getting asthma every month and needing stronger medication so I went back to the dietitian who prescribed vitamin supplements and took her off dairy foods. My daughter continued to get asthma and her eczema got worse, and this is how I found out about salicylates. The dietitian had told me to mix the powdered supplements in fruit juice and one of the child care centre workers mentioned that oranges can be a problem. It finally 'clicked'. I had been mixing the vitamins in orange juice. I got the dietitian to send me a list of all the foods that were salicylates so I could avoid them. After a few weeks my daughter's skin started clearing up and she has never had asthma again, even when she had a bad flu this winter. Dairy products give her the odd ear infection, less than once a year, but they don't affect her asthma.- reader, Brisbane



[287] Dental fillings and migraines (September 2003)


My mother was advised to have all her teeth out because her fillings might be causing her migraines. She doesn't get migraines any more, but I'm not convinced that fillings were the cause. She is eating a lot less salicylates now because she avoids tomatoes (the skins get stuck in her false teeth), strawberries (seeds likewise) and apples (too difficult to bite). - by email



[286] Lunchbox predictions (September 2003)


My partner is a teacher and always talks to his kids about the undesirable nature of what is generally in lunchboxes. He has had some interesting instances of saying to a child, 'If you eat that now you will be crazy this afternoon'. His predictions have come true and other children in the classroom have actually pointed it out. - by email, Qld



[285] Weighing in at nearly 100 kgs … sleeve loaded with tissues (September 2003)


I would like to share a recent discovery which happened because of your checklist. Three years ago I started the RPAH elimination diet, with chronic urticaria, asthma and depression, weighing in at nearly 100kgs and only 26 years old. I had to change to live. Immediately I stopped smoking and drinking and discovered after 2 days of elimination I was suffering dairy intolerance and now stay right away from all dairy products. Within 12 months I had lost 30kgs and never felt better in my life. After six months of dairy-free life, I got married - I recommend love also as a wonderful healer. I took up yoga and greatly increased my exercise. There were a few niggling things, particularly the blocked and running nose, always having my sleeve or back pocket loaded with tissues, ready for the inevitable moment. I had always suffered this morning and evening ritual of a running nose so 'just lived with it'.

Having relaxed my eating and decreased my exercise, I regained a dress size or two over the last 12 months and recently decided enough was enough. I was becoming uncomfortable and depressed again and couldn't fit into my gorgeous new clothes. I could see I was starting to walk down that old path which led to unhappiness. I now hold the knowledge and power to change. There is no need to get sucked into old habits from the past. It was time to return to chemical free life which I recalled with so much joy ... After a week of full elimination, the runny nose persisted. I read and re-read through your checklist of common mistakes and decided to try plain toothpaste which I never did three years ago as my dietician at the time said, 'oh you don't have to give up toothpaste if you don't want to - everything else though' and I never really considered it caused me such suffering.

Well well well. A truly amazing change has occurred for me. No more nose blowing at breakfast time or when I'm settling into bed at night. The tap has officially been turned off! My teeth actually feel cleaner than when using regular toothpaste and with a chemical free diet I never have a problem with bad breath which needs to be covered up with peppermint. - reader, Sydney



[284] Qantas provides low salicylate meals (September 2003)


I wanted to let you know about our wonderful experience recently. Imagine my surprise (horror) when my husband organised a trip for our family of five to England and France for eight weeks. Horror, yes, because how do you stay failsafe?

My very first step was to call Qantas and request special meals for our son. I was originally told I could request dairy-free and gluten-free but when I mentioned salicylates, preservatives, colours etc the poor lady got very quiet and asked me to spell salicylates. She told me she would 'pass the request on but couldn't guarantee they could meet it'. They rang me back a day or two later saying they had spoken to their dietician and he would be able to cater for us. Imagine my amazement when almost perfect meals were delivered on all Qantas flights. I say almost because they did include a banana and I know amines would have been a problem but my son got heaps of food that was good for him! We were overjoyed. We couldn't say the same for the British Airways leg of our trip and we certainly struggled to stay failsafe in Singapore and Disneyland in Paris. The rest of our trip we self-catered and survived. There were a few hissy fits, but otherwise this was a truly amazing trip. I have written to Qantas to thank them for everything. It was certainly worth one little phone call. - Rhonda (our Lismore contact)



[283] 635: Ribo rash from unlisted ingredients in old packaging (September 2003)


My recent attack of ribo rash lead me to your web site. A casserole in which Dad nearly poisoned me with two beef Massel stock cubes and turned me psycho and swollen led me to Safeway. I was furious that the old package from which Dad's cubes came did not list 631 and 627 as they do on the new packaging. - reader, Melbourne



[282] Bad insomnia from MSG and preservatives (September 2003)


I have recently discovered an intolerance to food preservatives and MSG which result in bad insomnia. Since I realized what was causing my problem I have mostly had really good nights' sleep but occasionally I get caught out and eat something with preservative or MSG without realising. It was probably easier for me to identify the connection between preservatives and insomnia than for most people as we live on a farm and butcher our own meat, hence sausages and mince with little else added, and additionally my husband has a cholesterol problem so I am very careful with our diet. - Karen O'Connor, Victoria.



[281] Uncontrolled epilepsy (September 2003)


My six-year-old daughter has been on the ketogenic diet for three and half years now for uncontrolled epilepsy. In that time I weaned her off of three anti-convulsants and six months after the last wean she became seizure-free. She has now been seizure-free for 2 years and 3 months. Also in that time as well as being on the keto diet, she has been failsafe and dairy free. I re-introduced dairy into her diet about three months ago and she is tolerating it really well. She is now off the keto diet but remains failsafe. I'm certain without the ketogenic diet in conjunction with the failsafe diet my daughter would still be having seizures. - by email, NSW



[280] Do it properly (September 2003)


I cannot thank you enough for your support and have been very vocal with child care centres and friends about the amazing results you can get with failsafe when you do it PROPERLY. - Michelle, Victoria



[279] I joined the boys on the diet and we have been strictly failsafe (September 2003)


Thank you for your four very informative books. They are wonderful and a great support along with the failsafe email groups and newsletters.

We went failsafe for our son when he was born five years ago and both children have been sort of failsafe since then. However, increasing errors and too many salicylates over the last two years (due to lack of support when we moved) resulted in increasing periods of out-of-control, aggressive and defiant behaviour in our son. For the last three months I joined the boys on the diet and we have been strictly failsafe, after finding your website and other books (I only had Fed Up previously). Life has been wonderful - except for catering socially.

I have gained lots already from 'my failsafe bible' (your cookbook). Thank you for your thousands of great useable ideas, we drink a mug of soup a day like suggested in one of your books to keep up our vitamin intake and have all been healthier as well as 'better behaved' people since being strictly failsafe.

If you would like a European contact, or more specifically Sweden ... I am happy to help out. It's great having regular contact and updates, and the email groups to pose questions and ideas to. - Faye (our failsafe contact in Sweden)



[278] Gifted but atrocious behaviour (September 2003)


I read your book because it was recommended by my son's counsellor. Although Mitchell is a bright boy, often selected for gifted programs at school, his behaviour was atrocious (severe temper, disruptive, tearful, moody, silly noises etc).

Since starting failsafe two months ago, he has had a huge turnaround. He is very proud of his new self and is just starting to believe in his own potential - potential we, as his parents, always knew he had.

Last week, Mitchell played his first basketball game as his new self. Usually he would vague off in the middle of the game and would never listen to instructions from his coach. He always wanted to play, but had little attention span. Mitchell was amazed at his ability with his new self (as was Dad). At the end of his training session he came off the court and said 'Wow, Dad, that was FUN!'

Thank you for 'Fed Up' I wish I'd found it sooner! - Michelle Page, by email



[277] A supportive school makes 'incredible' difference (September 2003)


Six months ago I changed my son's school as I got sick of bashing my head against a brick wall. Since then, my son has caught up to his own age group and is no longer considered to have any major learning problems. He just has to realise now he is very capable and intelligent, not dumb as he was told at his old school. This new school ensures he is kept away from anything that could trigger him off and that he has his own lunch that is not touched by anyone else. They even send him to another classroom if the teacher needs to use flyspray. The difference has been incredible. - reader, Qld



[276] Dermatitis from formaldehyde in car steering wheel (September 2003)


I have always been prone to skin irritations since I was a little girl. During my mid teens in the 60s I contracted quite bad dermatitis on the backs of my hands. This manifested itself on the palms of my hands too, at times, and no-one seemed to be able to discover the cause of the irritation, the resulting blisters and weeping skin. Skin specialists recommended various creams and potions including tar ointments, pure lanolin, various other forms of similar creams and ultimately full strength cortisone ointment which seemed to be the only thing that reduced the itch and the inflammation. I continued to use the cortisone ointment on my hands from that time until only a few years back when I decided to speak to a dermatologist here in Canberra. During the period of those years my hands fluctuated in the severity of irritation, sometimes really bad, and at other times less severe.

The dermatologist did a skin patch test in which I had to leave various substances on my skin for a week without touching or removing the patches. During that week I returned to the dermatologist on the Wednesday and the Friday to check the reactions. On the Wednesday there were two substances that had caused a slight pink spot on my skin. However, by the Friday these two had increased in redness and another one had begun to cause inflammation of the skin.

The three offending chemicals turned out to be:


Formaldehyde - used in large amounts in many plastic industries, building materials, eg paints, glues, varnishes, some pesticides. It is also found in small amounts in cosmetics, eg creams, shampoos, make-up, nailpolish, new fabrics and clothes, high quality paper, house-hold cleaners, disinfectants and in smoke from cigarettes or fires.


Quaternium-15 found in creams, lotions, shampoos, and other cosmetics and skin care products.


Colophony - found in adhesives, sealants, shoe wax, lacquers, gums, varnishes, pine oil cleaners, cosmetics, wart remedies, skiwax, dental floss, modelling clay, paints, resins, athletic rubs, and many industrial products. High quality gloss paper may be coated with colophony.

Well! We came to the conclusion that my chronic dermatitis of the hands (at this stage, and certainly consistently since my late teens) was caused by contact with resin steering wheels. The irritation was particularly obvious during the hot summer months.

During the week following my diagnosis I wore cotton gloves when driving. I have had no recurrence of the problem since then (approximately 7 years now). My car has a pure sheepskin steering wheel cover - my husband can't stand the feel of it, yet I can't stand to drive the car without it. I must admit I was amazed to discover the cause after all those years! - by email, Canberra


MORE READERS' STORIES on the website


Product updates


Lays and Smiths plain chips are now failsafe - ingredients: potatoes, palm oil, salt. Note that antioxidants are no longer used in the oil (possibly changed this year). Chips are not soaked in any solutions like sulphite. Thanks to Heidi White and confirmed by Smith's Snackfoods on 1800 025 789.


Gluten-free dairy-free failsafe probiotic: I have been gluten free for 3 years. After reading about probiotics in Fed Up with Asthma, I have been taking D.F.A. (dairy free acidophilus ) by Natren, only available in health food stores. It was recommended to me some time ago and at that stage I couldn't see any direct benefit from taking it, however after your experience with the yoghurt and now with my experience, I feel that probiotics are worth a try for anyone with gluten intolerance. Thanks to Andra Somerville


Failsafe paracetamol in NZ: Pam's brand paracetamol, both capsules and tablets, are failsafe, gluten free, and have no hidden sulphites. Others have not been checked yet. Thanks to Robin Fisher of Canterbury group.


Homemade washing powder for top loading washing machines: Use 1/2 scoop Omo sensitive concentrate and 2 tbsp Lux flakes dissolved in hot water. Thanks to Elly Staude.


Werthers new Chewy Toffees are nearly failsafe and very delicious. The only catch is the flavour (and dairy products if you need to avoid dairy foods). Unless very sensitive, most failsafers will be able to tolerate at least small quantities - but do not use these or any other commercial products containing 'flavours' including yoghurts and custards if the diet is not working well enough.

If you don't react to amines: Kinnerton flavour-free chocolate is available from Big W, in a black wrapper with several big coloured circles on the front saying gluten free etc, about $2.60 a smallish block. Chocolate covered honeycomb at Crazy Clarks in Brisbane is good for a treat: only $2 for 310g bag, ingredients are sugar, glucose, gelatine, bicarbonate soda, vegetable fat, cocoa, emulsifiers (322,492), salt. Once again no flavour (which seems to be my worst enemy). - Thanks to Anne Hurman, Brisbane Southside group


Failsafe frozen dinners and lollipops in Brisbane: Samantha Tinsley is a 'failsafer convert' with cooking experience. She will provide most meals from the 'Failsafe Cookbook' plus a few other recipes using the same principles and sweet baking. From a few dinners to freeze to all your party food. Failsafe lollipops using sugar, glucose syrup, water and 'Queens' brand Cochineal 120 (only striped not the entire lollipop coloured) 'chupa chup' size 40 cents each, now available. All enquiries to Sam Tinsley 07 3820 8350 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..


NZ Soymilk: I recently noticed a change in the packaging in Pam's soy milk to include a listing of Vitamin C on the packet. Customer services tell me the oil in the soy milk no longer contains problematic antioxidants, only Vitamin C is used. The oil is sunflower and not cold pressed so it is now failsafe. I do wonder if my comments a year ago had any influence as at that stage I told them it was a shame it had 319 in it, as otherwise I could have recommended it the food intolerance email lists I belong to and to those who contact me by phone. I believe though it's companies hearing comments from individuals such as ourselves that do change things over time. - Robin Fisher, South Canterbury group


NZ bread: The use of bread preservative (280-283) in New Zealand continues to increase, with Quality Bakers intending to add propionates to hot cakes, muffin splits, wraps and tortillas - more details from Linda Beck (This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.)


Bakers Delight bread: This bread no longer contains 223, 319 or 320 and appears failsafe. Please let us know if you have any problems with it. Thanks to Leanne Young.


Failsafe sausages from Sam the Butcher's 3 outlets in Sydney: All meat is organic with no added chemicals, so is slightly more expensive. You need to order a minimum of 4 kilograms per batch - they are happy for customers to get together and go halves in the orders. Contacts: Beecroft, Sam, phone 9484 7138; Bondi,Troy, phone 9389 1420; Sans Souci, Joel, phone 9583 1144. See www.samthebutcher.com.au. Note that all stores are closed in Mondays, open Tuesday to Friday, 8.00am to 6pm. Saturday, 7.00am to 4pm. Sunday (Bondi only) 8.00am to 3pm. - thanks to Susan Bull for arranging this.


Your questions:


Q: Has anyone tried failsafe for Lupus?

A: Yes, the Illawarra failsafe group reports great success with both Lupus and arthritis. More details from Bernard: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..


Q: I read about Lactobacillus GG, probiotics and Vaalia yoghurt in your book 'Fed Up with Asthma'. Are you aware that Vaalia yogurt contains natural colour 160b?

A: You should be able to get Vaalia natural yoghurt which is colour-free. It is only the vanilla and fruit-flavoured Vaalia yoghurts which contain 160b. Please let me know if your Woolworths supermarket refuses to stock Vaalia natural (give the location of the supermarket).


Q: Sometimes I have this uneasy feeling when I breathe, it is as if I am on a plane flying at 40 000 feet and having that dry feeling in your throat and eyes. I keep thinking that it must be something that I eat or drink. I have had it after a fruitcake and also from raisin bread. My daughter avoids cask wine for the same reason.

A: For breathing problems within 15 minutes of food or drink, suspect sulphites (220-228). Raisins and dried fruit such as cherries and artificial cherries in fruit cakes etc may contain sulphites. Wine is the other most common source of sulphites. Asthmatics who see an occasional reaction to sulphited foods are probably affected more than they realise since there are small amounts in many foods.


Q: I came across the new Cottees Lemonade the supermarket today, and was wondering if it is failsafe? The ingredients are carbonated water, sugar, food acid 330, natural flavour.

A: These ingredients are the same as in 7UP and Schweppes lemonade. The natural flavour is lemon juice, which contains both salicylates and amines. For the elimination diet, the RPA recommended limit is 150 mls per week (less than one glass). In my experience, most parents give more than that and then complain that their children react. Best to save it for treats such as birthday parties.


Q: We live on a farm in WA and I am planning for the whole family to do the Elimination Diet. I am determined to persevere this time, nearly 5 years after our first attempt. I think the best way for me to ensure we stick at it is to do a thorough menu plan, including lunch boxes and snacks; to do a big shop in Perth for food and non food items; discuss incentives and rewards before commencing; clear my diary of all unnecessary time-consuming, stress-inducing appointments, meetings etc; advise the school and other relevant people; keep a food and behaviour diary; communicate frequently with the dietitian. Have I missed anything? Is Amway still OK for washing clothes and Imperial Leather for personal soap? (I see toothpaste is available by mail order). We buy our meat in bulk (about every 3 months). Our butcher cooks a chook for me on the rotisserie without anything added. I use the white meat only (no skin) for the children's lunches. Is this OK?

A: It all sounds good except the meat. Meat should be cooked the day you buy it or frozen and used within 4 weeks. If you pass your amine challenge you can go back to buying in bulk every three months.


Q: A few months ago, I developed a cough and tight chest which got worse and now I have been diagnosed with asthma for the first time in my life (I am 35). I am on a weight loss diet and have been snacking every day on a mixture of dried fruit and nuts. I saw your factsheet about asthma and muesli bars. Could dried fruit cause chronic asthma?

A: Dried fruit such as apples, apricots and coconut contain sulphur dioxide (220 also called sulphites). Sulphites are strongly associated with asthma. It is possible for some people to develop chronic steroid-dependent asthma simply by eating dried fruit in muesli bars or trail mix nearly every day. If cutting out the trail mix doesn't help, you may need to investigate the effects of other food chemicals including salicylates (more details in Fed Up with Asthma).


Q: Is there a failsafe lipbalm?

A: I haven't found one yet. I use vaseline. Any suggestions from readers?


Q: My problem has been a severe burning sensation on my face, especially temples and nose, on and off for the past year. I have recently started the failsafe diet and on the salicylate challenge my skin became so painful and my face was swollen, that I had to use liberal amounts of cortisone cream. I work in a shoe shop and have always had a bad reaction while at work. As soon as I leave work I have no discomfort. This happened on the challenge, but the reaction was only on that day that I worked. I have not had such a bad reaction since, but even this week, there was a slight tingling on my skin, but only while I was at work. Could my reaction be coming from something at work?

A: Exposure to toxic chemicals (such as the glues and solvents used in shoe manufacture) can sensitize you to other chemicals including food chemicals. You can identify occupational exposure because of the timing: your symptoms will occur at work, (or for asthma, more often on work nights) and stop during holidays. If you continue to be exposed at work, eventually your symptoms will become irreversible. The best cure is to change your job. Easy to say, hard to do, but you run the risk of becoming far more sensitive if you don't. See the Fumes and Perfumes factsheet on the website and the section on occupational exposure in Fed Up with Asthma.


Q: I have been reading some information about a new milk product called A2 milk that will soon be available in Victoria. Do you know anything about it?

A: If you can tolerate cows or goats milk, A2 (it's a form of milk protein called beta-casein) will be suitable for you. Most milk in the world is A2 milk - Asian and African cows milk, goats milk, yak milk etc. Most milk in Western countries is not A2, except for occasional breeds such as Guernsey cows. There is some interesting research suggesting that A2 milk is better for health in a number of areas, including autism and heart disease. It would be relatively easy to convert Western milk to A2 if dairy farmers wanted to do it. You can read all about it by doing a google search: www.google.com SEARCH "A2 milk"


Q: Are there any failsafe worm tablets?

A: None of the standard pharmaceutical treatments are failsafe but one reader's pharmacist recommended large doses of garlic - three cloves a day, with the garlic in the biggest chunks the child can swallow, to allow pieces of garlic to actually get right through the intestines (Nuttelex on the lumps makes it easier to get down) plus four odourless garlic tablets a day, plus a multivitamin supplement (we recommend Macro M or Amcal). He also recommended no sugar for a week although you can have permitted fruit.


Q: I am 5.5 months pregnant and have had chronic insomnia since being pregnant. I have gone to a sleep clinic and am beginning to think that my insomnia is closely related to MSG. I have been keeping a sleep diary and it appears that on the nights after I go out for lunch or dinner I may not sleep at all or only get a few hours sleep. Just recently I bought Woolies BBQ chicken not realising this would contain MSG, both nights after these chickens I did not sleep at all. Ever since becoming pregnant I have been going out to lunches an awful lot, so I can look back and say 'yes 3 times a week, no sleep, yes could MSG be the problem here?' Do you know of anyone else that has insomnia from MSG? I find I am thirsty, have nightmares, have developed a rash on my calves and do not fall asleep. It is very hard to find out which restaurant foods may contain MSG. Do you have a list?

A: Other people are affected by MSG too, see Reader's story 'Bad insomnia caused by MSG and preservatives'. For detailed information about how to avoid MSG, see pages 193-196 in Fed Up with Asthma. Since you developed a rash after eating Woolies chicken, I would also suspect ribonucleotides (flavour enhancers 635, 627 and 631). If avoiding MSG and ribonucleotides doesn't stop your insomnia, you may want to try the failsafe diet to see if other food chemicals are contributing to your problem.


Q: Are Neways products failsafe?

A: You will have to judge each product individually. The Radiance toothpaste without peppermint oil (there are two Radiance toothpastes) is OK without the mouthwash. The only other products I have tried (shampoos and conditioner) are not failsafe because they contained very high salicylates in ingredients such as tangelo oil, despite the 'fragrance free' label. I normally use Palmolive Naturals shampoo and conditioner for normal hair, available from supermarkets. They are not 100% failsafe but I can tolerate them, unlike the Neways products. Dermaveen shampoo and conditioner from pharmacies are 100% failsafe.


Q: My baby is 4 1/2 months old. He's never been a great sleeper and since I started him on solids three weeks ago at least one breastfeed a day is a nightmare - he will drink for a minute or two then pull off and scream and arch his back. People told us he would be more settled on solids! I've given him potato, sweet potato, pumpkin, apple and avocado and I can't say I've noticed any of these really affecting him. Can you suggest what foods I should be giving him?

A: Some babies are more sensitive than others. You won't always see an immediate reaction but effects build up. Apple and especially avocado are not great for babies with food intolerance because they are high in natural chemicals called salicylates. Homemade baby rice cereal (cooked and blended rice) is generally very safe and you could try potatoes and baby pear. Bananas are good unless your baby reacts to natural food chemicals called amines. If you are breastfeeding you may have to change your own diet too. There are more details in The Failsafe Cookbook, or you could see a dietitian.

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. 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..


Chemical free house for sale: Environmental consultant Alex Blockow has a house for sale which he says is suitable for people with MCS. It was built for someone with chemical sensitivity. The house is at Victor Harbor, about 80km from Adelaide in SA. Enquiries: 08 8552 8228, e-mail This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


Carers allowance: There are no questions pertaining to children who suffer from asthma and multiple allergies in review forms for the carers' allowance. Fearing that the government is trying to cut off carers whose caree does not have a recognised disorder, parents in the support group SNYP (Special Needs of Yorke Peninsula) are creating their own questions over the top of existing questions. More information: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..


Support contacts


There are now over 46 support contacts in Australia, New Zealand and overseas - see website.


Talks and television

Brisbane QLD: Friday 5 September. 7.30pm Mansfield State School Hall, Ham Rd, Mansfield. Gold coin donation. Phone Anne 07.3216 8742


Gold Coast QLD: Saturday 6 September 2003, National Foster Care Conference, details from Sue Black phone phone 07 3312 0021, 0401 969 343.


Launceston TAS: Wednesday 10 - Thursday 11 September 2003. FED UP WITH FOOD CONFERENCE at Sir Raymond Ferrall Centre, University of Tasmania, Nenham, Launceston. Keynote speakers include Dr Ann Swain and Sue Dengate. Sue will talk on "The connection between food and asthma" and "Fed Up with behaviour". Contact Megan Gunn 03 6382 2561 or Kate Penrose 03 6393 1573 This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. See program.


Devonport TAS: Friday 12 - Saturday 13 September 2003, details TBA.


Darwin NT: Sun-Tues 28-30 September, 2003 - Australian Association of Special Education 27th National Conference at Charles Darwin University. Contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or 08.8981 1875. Sue will speak on "Impacts of food on health, behaviour and learning".




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


Oriental 2 minute noodles


1 packet of colour-free, flavour-free noodles

1/2 tsp sugar

drizzle golden syrup

cream cheese (or grated mozzarella cheese if tolerated, moderate-high in amines)

Cook noodles according to instructions on packet. Drain noodles and stir in toppings to melt while hot. Serves one. - thanks to Elly Staude


Mrs Cattle's Biscuits


A hundred year old recipe from a pioneering family.


8oz SR flour (250 gm; one cup; or use plain flour plus 2 tsp baking powder)

1 egg

4oz sugar (115 gm; half a cup)

3oz butter (75 gm; 6 tbsp)

Mix all ingredients and shape into small balls, put onto tray and bake in a moderate oven for 10 to 15 minutes or press into trays and cover with golden syrup and crumble mix on top. Cut into slices before cooling. - thanks to Rosy Hill.


Popples (dairy free, gluten free) These are sweeter than ordinary rice bubbles but do have a kind of commercial taste which I feel our gf kids are often deprived of. They have the thumbs up by our hungry teenager. He likes them as a dry snack rather than with milk on.

1 x 150g packet of plain puffed cereal (eg rice, millet etc)

1 cup sugar

1/4 cup syrup (golden, rice or maple)

1/4 cup failsafe oil

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4 cup water

Pre-heat oven to 180C. Place puffed cereal in baking dish. Make syrup mixture with sugar, syrup, oil, salt and water, boiling 2-3 minutes (brings mixture to very soft toffee state). Pour syrup mixture over puffed cereal and mix till evenly coated. Place in oven for approximately 5 minutes, stirring cereal at least once during that time. Take care not to burn; it's done when the mixture just starts to brown very slightly. - thanks to Robin Fisher.


Rice Puffs (contain dairy foods as butter and gluten as malt in rice bubbles)

6 cups Rice Bubbles

1/2 cup brown sugar

1/2 cup golden syrup

125 g failsafe butter

Combine sugar, syrup and butter in a pot and simmer gently for 2 -3 minutes, stirring constantly. Remove from heat and allow to cool for a minute. Add rice bubbles and mix thoroughly. Press into greased tin 23x23cm (or equivalent), using back of spoon. Refrigerate, then cut into squares. - thanks to Teresa Ventris



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 Leanne Young, Heidi White, Robin Fisher, Linda Beck, Andra Somerville, Jenny Saal, Susan Bull, Rhonda Rob, Faye in Sweden, Sheryl Sibley, Elaine Anderson, Dorothy Bowes from ASEHA, Rex Warren from ACTA and all contributors. 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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