A few months ago, my son developed a sudden, allergic rash that came and went with seemingly no pattern. The rash starts as unbearable itching and then quickly develops into raised welts, like mossie bites, over most of his body, or sometimes, only one part of it, such as his hands. When it starts, as you might imagine, he is considerably distressed by it and often the only sure remedy is to put him into a bath of warm water. This takes away the itching within about fifteen minutes.

We thought of all the usual suspects – things that had been applied to his skin, pool water, clothing, plants and more. We talked to our doctor who couldn't explain it either without going through the full allergy testing drama. Then a friend of mine told me how she had been to see Sue Dengate and directed me to the Fed Up website. We read a bit about ribo rash and thought 'Ah-ha!'.

The week prior to the development of the rash was an odd one for us. We normally eat a mostly organic diet, which began out of concern for the environment as well as health. We still ate occasional takeaway and treats like any family. That particular week, the organics were out the window as we helped our friends renovate – it was a busy week and a lot of convenience foods were eaten. We ate, as it turns out, something with ribonucleotides every single day that week. These included Fantastic rice crackers, ready roasted chicken (several meals), hams and other deli meats, sausages, chips (hot and from a packet) and probably more.

Then our son had the rash for three or four weeks, on and off, while we figured it all out (and of course continuing to unknowingly eat some of these foods). We had to keep him away from school, as the itching was unbearable, came on without warning at any time of day and the only solution was a bath.

The rash also appeared on the place on his body where he was cold, e.g. hands and feet at the beach, at a home pool and in a paddle pool filled with rainwater. The weirdest one was the paddling pool - he only got the rash up to his waist - that was the part that had been in the water.

Finally, when we made the connection, we cut out all foods containing 'the dreaded 600s'. It took almost a week and a half for the rash to completely stop appearing. It appeared less and less severely each day.

I thought that it would be good to try cutting all the artificial stuff out for a short time to see if there was any merit in it. Wow. What a discovery! We thought that his hyperactive moods at the end of each day were due to being 'overtired', in fact, they only happen on the days that he has eaten chemical food additives. Many behaviours that we had previously thought to be 'normal' have turned out to be brought on by chemicals in foods:

•     Preservatives: tears, moodiness, unable to be happy, as well as hyperactivity and babbling – usually next day reaction.
•     Preservative 282 in bread products – hyperactivity and babbling - about 30 minutes later.
•     Synthetic Antioxidants: irritability, opposition to small things, unable to be happy, tantrum like behaviour – about 8 hours later.
•     Colours: hyperactivity, babbling, bouncing – about four hours later.
•     Flavour Enhancers: rash, itching, recurring up to 10 days later.

We would never have found these reactions without cutting all artificial food chemicals from our diet. We would never have connected a white, McDonald's soft serve (2 colours) with bouncing off the walls four hours later. We certainly would never have figured out that terrible tantrum-like moments were due to eating chips (synthetic antioxidants in the oil) the day before. Since cutting all the 600 numbers out, our son has only had one more episode of the rash – following prescribed medication for croup, which turns out to have several nasty additives and which changed his behaviour too. We are very careful now and can even tell if he has been out with his grandparents and had a milkshake!

The numbers that are a total no-go for us are 620-625 as well as 627, 631, 635. These 'ribonucleotides' are added to most barbecue, chicken or other savoury flavoured things like rice crackers, chips and other snacks, to some hams and processed meats, to sausages, to ready cooked chicken, to hot chips (think chicken salt), even to some brands of 'plain' crackers and more.

A more full examination of failsafe eating has led to the discovery that my son is also intolerant to high salicylates, although moderate consumption is ok. A snack of strawberries or a glass of orange juice is enough to lead to behaviour changes - mainly oppositional. We were all fine with amines and natural glutamates. - Susan, Qld  (More about cold urticaria -hives associated with cold - at http://allergies.about.com/od/urticariahives/a/coldurticaria.htm)