Even though my asthmatic daughter Kate improved out of sight on the failsafe diet, she never got the fabulous results that other failsafers report, and I always wondered why.

Up until November last year, Kate's peak flow was around 280-300 and although she never needed Ventolin, we couldn't get her off inhaled steroids. Suddenly in November her peak flow shot up to 380-395 consistently and we were about to take her off her Pulmicort. Then after two months she slumped back to a peak flow of 250 and needing Ventolin. Nothing had changed in her diet.

A light bulb moment occurred when I realised that I had been buying our meat from Coles or Woolworths for years but last November I started buying local butcher's meat. I hadn't realised the connection that the butcher's meat was what brought Kate's peak flow up to the 380 range and when I returned to buying Coles meat even though fresh, it slumped down to 250. Why?

It turns out that what I thought was fresh meat from my local supermarket hasn't been fresh at all. Meat is sent to the Bathurst Woolworths and Coles stores not as carcasses, but in vacuum packs. When the vacuum pack is opened, the meat is repacked in trays and sold as fresh meat to the consumer with a use by date 3-5 days from the opening of the cryovac pack. This lasts the supermarket up to 8 weeks so the meat can be up to 60 days old in the vacuum pack before it is opened and sold as fresh meat. By comparison, my local butcher reassures me that his meat is killed on Thursday/Friday and he gets it Monday. I purchase on that Monday for the week and freeze.

I found on the internet that vacuum packaging of meat is not an effective means of retarding the production of amines, and we know that Kate is a sensitive amine responder.

Kate has now been off Coles meat for five days. Her peak flow has risen from 250 to 330 already and she no longer requires Ventolin - so this was obviously the cause of her asthma. This was the hardest food item ever to figure out. I am usually pretty good at finding it but this one had me baffled until I realised the meat connection. It was only because there was a pattern to the asthma. Kate woke up every Monday morning needing Ventolin and the only thing different about Sunday was the roast lamb for dinner!

Coles Customer relations say that this is a fairly new procedure, but some stores have been doing it longer than others. Some Woolworths stores vacuum pack only beef not lamb, but Coles supermarkets vacuum pack both lamb and beef. This may change from supermarket to supermarket. I know that this is my problem and will be a problem for a lot of amine responders. Chicken is not affected, as it is usually 48 hour from slaughter to sale. After my sleepless nights and desperation to track down this offending amine, I hope now to get the word out to other amine responders which I know you will do on your website. - Susan Bragg, NSW.