My other big issue is with some perfumes, perfumed room 'fresheners', particularly carpet cleaners and perfumed washing powder.  I have had some serious breathing problems from these. At work at one point they changed to a dreadful 'rose' perfumed air freshener, which affected me immediately, firstly my lips felt like they were burning and then swelled up, one eye swelled and breathing became difficult. No-one else in the office could smell it, the cleaning company denied changing products and it ended with everyone thinking it was 'all in my head'. Generally household cleaners don't bother me. I find my life can be an absolute nightmare - Suzanne

I'm sensitive to all smells. My father is a handyman. He is always using all sorts of industrial solvents, glues, paints etc. Lately, he is painting the boat under the house. However, he must shut all the doors and windows of the house before opening any paint tin. I tolerate smells better outside due to large amount of air. I tolerate smells much less in an enclosed environment (such as the house). I try to avoid prolonged exposure to indoor environments where I cannot control the smell, e.g. shopping centres or air conditioned office buildings with no external opening windows. Once a smell enters the air conditioning, it goes all throughout the building - Sam

Wow i am so happy that I came across your website. I recently broke out in dermatitis on my face due to food intolerance to egg & lactose (which I had been eating most days since reintroducing back into my diet 9 months ago). I thought I was coping well, then 2 weeks later the dermatitis turned into a staph infection because of a nose bleed ... I was put onto antibiotics & steroids which did clear my face up - for not even a week - because unfortunately a few days completing the meds i ate a couple of protein balls (cashews, dates, pea protein & coconut) I then started to welt up again within about an hour & for the next week my face continued to puff up in red angry rash, swollen cheeks. Some days I'd wake up swollen other times would get redder/swollen as the day went on. I was sure there was something else causing this reaction other than what I already knew because I had not been eating any eggs/dairy but a truck load of berries, apples, oranges chia pudding sprinkled with coconut, almonds, pumpkin seeds & dates. I got onto google & came across salicylate sensitivity which I 100% believe was triggered by the medication I was put on.

I thought i was eating a healthy balanced diet but most foods in the moderate to high salicylate tier (broccoli, zucchini, sweet potato, pumpkin & smoothie bowls) are my faves. It could just be a coincidence but thought I'd share my experience with you. I'm now on day 3 of my elimination diet & my skin has improved & while i'm chilling in bed as I write this my face isn't the usual angry red it has been the past few weeks. I also am no longer feeling clammy/anxious like I have been over the past couple of weeks.

Update day 4: my skin is even better today.

Update 2 months later: I'm still following the diet eating low/negligible foods in salicylates (8 weeks) & also amines (6 weeks). Skin is looking great. Face is back to normal. I'm seeing a dietitian soon, I found her on your website so I'm hoping to be able to reintroduce some foods or at least start challenges. I have joined your fb page and have found it really helpful along with your book Fed Up. I just can't thank you enough - Michelle

I was diagnosed with salicylate allergy about 8 years ago. I am usually very careful and try to avoid food with high to very high salicylate levels and eat some of the ones where the level is low. My biggest problem is the way many medications affect me and I put it down to salicylates. I leave aspirin and other anti-inflammatories alone. I am an asthmatic so have left those alone for many years. I have found that many medications affect me, including the majority of blood pressure medications. I take one now that only gives me a slight reaction if I take it with an anti-histamine. I’ve also had allergic reactions, i.e. rashes and breathing problems from vitamin tablets, antibiotics, lots of tablets. Someone told me that salicylates are often used in tablet compounds, not sure if this is true. Very often MIMS does not mention that a medication contains salicylates. I have contacted drug companies to ask them if a particular drug contains salicylates and they have told me they are present, but this is not mentioned anywhere, labelling, MIMS. Sometimes a pharmacist can tell me.  It is an absolute minefield. So many doctors do not take it seriously, they tend to brush it away. When I’ve requested a different antibiotic they still will prescribe the one that affects my breathing.  Fortunately my local pharmacist can often give me a genetic version of the drug, containing no salicylates.  I’m getting to a stage where I’m terrified to take anything. I used to take Blackmores 1000mg garlic tablets, they were fine and didn’t affect me in any way. Recently they stopped producing those and replaced them with a 10,000mg version. 1st time I took one, severe reaction, affecting my breathing, swelling of the throat, etc. I used to think it was all asthma, but then the asthma medication didn’t give relief. Since diagnosis of my allergy my ‘asthma’ is very much improved. Now when I wheeze at night, usually after eating in a restaurant, I take an anti-histamine and I’m fine, in the past I used my puffers and they didn’t work. 
(Sue's comment: We agree. It is harder than ever to find medication that won't kill you since the TGA introduced pathetic labelling requirements for pharmaceuticals: now only active ingredients and preservatives have to be listed. Obviously they are protecting industry not consumers. We recommend medication guidelines in the RPAH allergy clinic publication "RPAH Elimination Diet Handbook" supplements and medications sections, pages 107-119, available from dietitians and the RPAH clinic. They say: Avoid aspirin and non-essential medications, avoid colours, flavours and/or preservatives (especially in syrups and mixtures); avoid herbal products and topical products (skin creams) with menthol, essential oils, aromas. They list some suitable medications that can be used by people who are sensitive to salicylates, e.g. Clopidogrel for blood thinning; alternatives for pain relief, antihistamines, asthma medication, supplements and many more. )

Also see story [1386] Life-threatening reaction to anti-inflammatory drugs plus blackberries: "A&E seemed totally unaware of the salicylate link" (March 2016)

I have 2 children, aged 4 and 16 months and I have been battling for years to figure out what is going on, gut wise and behaviour wise.

They are both on gluten free diets as there is Coeliac disease in our families, and my 16 month old is also on a dairy free diet because of his issues and I cannot figure out why he in particular is not getting any better.

I would have assumed being on a GF and dairy free diet they are only eating good food, but from your website I'm now understanding there is so much more to look into food additives/preservatives/salicylates. As it turns out, some GF breads have preservative 282 in them. Apple juice has preservative 202 so too the butter I have been putting on her bread. That is easy to cut out now because of your website, but there is still so much more that makes my head spin, in particular the flours and what goes into GF products ... tapioca starch, tapioca flour, cornflour, corn, potato starch, potato flour… argh! it's so hard to know what is ok and what is not!!

UPDATE:  I have been seeing a dietitian for 5 weeks now to help work my son out. It is definitely looking like salicylates are one of his issues! With corn high on the list! On this trial I have now had almost 1 full week of him sleeping through the night, he is so happy to eat and generally all round a much happier 17 month old. I am back to dietitian on Tuesday for a follow up and to talk about the next step. Your website has been the best thing for my life!! - Tennille

I was searching for symptoms after making a connection between intake of white willow bark tincture for back pain and vertigo. I've just seen your Salicylate Factsheet and it all makes sense - especially as I’ve been using Ibuprofen regularly for my chronic back pain made worse by a car accident a year ago.
Initially I used a product recommended by the health shop called 7 Solgar. It helped the pain but didn’t agree with me so I switched to white willow bark and have had vertigo for 2 weeks.

I stopped taking all my herbal medicines and the vertigo subsided but came back today after taking white willow bark and then a light bulb came on! Not helped by mixing it all in a nutribullet with fruit!!  Thanks for the article – real help. - Ramesh, UK

(Sue’s comment: And see my blog post Vertigo and salicylates- we have been surprised by the huge amount of interest in it.)


Do you think 'your honour, I was testing adding in amines again' would work as a defence in court?

Depends whether the judge was a failsafer - Rachael

I feel like understanding this post is a "laugh or cry" moment - Nik

I like to think of them as angry amines :( - Rachael

Mainly angry cheese woman :(

Speaking as a 'nightmare scary chocolate psycho' I can fully sympathise! - Kathy

We have antagonistic amines here. It would be me on trial, not the child.

Bahahaha - Ruth

That gives you the perfect excuse to lock yourself away In a Epsom salt/bicarbonate of soda bath! -  Teresa

BwahahhahHaha I sure hope so for my children's sake!!!! – Adreanne

(If this dialogue puzzles you, see Factsheet on amines, a natural chemical found in foods).

I would just like to say that preservatives affect adults too. I discovered some years ago that additives in the 200-300 range seem to make me ill even to the point of giving up my job. Two out of three of my children are also affected by preservatives in food. I live on fresh food and for the last 3 years mainly vegetarian. I no longer suffer with the severe headaches that plagued me most of my life. I am just so pleased to see that it is not all in my head. - email (this report first appeared in Failsafe Newsletter 34 in 2002 but was not numbered)

I have just experienced a reaction to eating Continental Spring Vegetable Simmer Soup with flavour enhancer 635. I broke put in a severe rash with blisters under the skin. I had a warm bath and used a soothing cream and medicated powder. Most of my body is affected. I have taken an antihistamine tablet. Is there anything else I can do to get relief? - David

A Caltrate tablet helped kill the reaction for me in about 30 minutes. I haven't touched msg for about 14 years now - was the main thing that caused my asthma, migraines and I would vomit the next day - sensitive side of things - Tracy

I still have the rash but it has reduced in intensity. I have resisted the urge to scratch but it is like a living hell. This is the first time for me. It is starting to now. It made me very weak as well as heart palpitations and migraine - David

(Howard's comment: David lodged a formal complaint with the state food safety authority, with no reply after two months, and also with the food company, who apologised and provided a $30 voucher. See more on 635 Factsheet)

This time last week my 3 year old son was crying in pain from the welts, open sores and eczema that covered his entire body. I had ice packs on him and was dosing him up with pain medication, steroids and anti-histamines... again. He has suffered like this from 4 months old. We have done everything under the sun to help him (and his older brother) but nothing has really worked. We use steroid creams every single day, as well as wet wraps etc.

Their skin specialist denied that eczema has anything to do with allergies or food intolerances. Over and over she said "they are born that way, the creams are the best way to help them". Well, after much research and getting in to see a dietician, I started my 3 year old on the strict failsafe diet on Monday (we were already gluten and dairy free). Within 24 hours the redness in my son's skin was gone, he had stopped scratching. Within 48 hours his sores had stopped oozing and started to heal. Just 7 days in and his skin actually feels human and not reptilian. He keeps telling me how much better his skin feels and for the very first time in his life he slept through the night. The WHOLE night!!! I'm blown away and kicking myself for not doing this years ago AND very scared to start challenges. I have had them on an organic fruit and veges diet, full of fermented and cultured foods, bone broths etc. turns out I was making them worse. But all in all, a result I had never even thought was possible! You can see the massive improvement in the pictures! - Emma


My daughter had the same experience - covered head to toes in eczema and medicated creams did virtually nothing. 11 years of now being Failsafe and she has only had a tiny patch of eczema a couple of times, always for her linked to an overload of salicylates. I never believed that healthy fruit & vegetables could cause such dire eczema, but it absolutely does. Best wishes to you and your son for an eczema-free life - Louise

My son's dermatologist told me this too, that his eczema was nothing to do with food. I didn't believe him, because I had already seen his eczema worsen every time I ate eggs (he was fully breastfed at the time). His eczema (and tantrums and night terrors, too) melted away completely within 3 months of going off artificial colours, preservatives and additives. That was several years ago and we have not looked back. Well done to you for finding the answer!  - Paula

Wow! What an improvement! I have seen first-hand the effects of diet on skin conditions in my family. It's irrefutable to me - Nicky

I totally agree. The change in him is completely undeniable. Anyone who knows us has commented on the massive improvement in his skin. He looked like a leper a week ago and today a normal child. I can't believe that a specialist would completely dismiss food intolerances?!! – Emma again

My child's meltdowns melted away after removing artificial food dyes, preservatives, and artificial flavors. But of course, like yourself, two different doctors told me food had NOTHING to do with her meltdowns and constant crying. Ya right. They actually told me she needed therapy and to seek out a mental health professional – Kathy

I was also shut down by medical professionals, I'm diagnosed a mental illness called somatic symptom disorder because of that diagnosis I've been told I have to stop all investigations and just treat the pain I get, but now I know the pain is definitely from food! – Lauren

Well done for trusting yourself! We got told the same thing about both of my kids, my daughter was full body eczema and it kept getting infected. My son not so bad, but upset tummy all the time. When she was around nine months we started the failsafe process for both kids and myself. They are so much healthier for it. Only small amounts of cortisone now and usually only when we have a challenge or slip up. Be brave and do the challenges, you will probably find that there are only a few that trigger symptoms and then you will be able to broaden your diet. I have also found that recovery from the challenges is quicker than the initial healing. And if they are like my kids you might be able to stop after only two days of a challenge because you can already see the dreaded return of eczema. Also you may be surprised what other things improve as well as eczema and sleep - Megan

The best help I got from any Dr was when he said 'just keep doing what you are doing, because it's working' - Kim

The medical profession as a whole don't know, and they can't pass on what they don't know – Paula again

I think something we need to keep in mind when talking to doctors is saying "Royal Prince Alfred Hospital Allergy Unit elimination diet".  They may take more notice of a diet that has been studied and comes out of a hospital - Tania

We are on day 124 of failsafe (yes I count the days in their food journal haha) and the improvements we have seen are phenomenal. We originally started for behavioural issues with my 3 yo (eldest of three) which have improved 10 fold but also in the process have completely eliminated the angry rashes that used to flare up "for no reason" (we now know salicylates or ‘sals’ were our culprit). Definitely a journey but completely worth it! And thank you!

We have come such a long way and I'm so proud of myself but even prouder of them. Gone are the days of chicken nuggets. Today for lunch we are having coleslaw (cabbage, celery, choko with him mayo), mini chicken mince balls and potato chips!


Our issues started around 2.5yrs with anger, defiance, hyperactivity, short fuse, one track mind, resisting sleep, poor speaking, not playing well with other kids, argumentative, constantly frowning, horrible behaviour out in public. You know the screaming child doing the ragdoll out in public? This was him.

The day that made me realize I had to do something was when I bawled to my husband in the shower after a bad day saying "I'm so disappointed in myself and I'm so angry I have a child like this!" I was completely defeated
My mum recommended failsafe to me and gave me the book to read. Haven't looked back. First month was rough as he had withdrawals which made his behaviour worse but now that we have come through the other side I'm just amazed. It is 1000000% worth it. Now he's a happy calm boy that listens and we can take out without dreading how he's going to react - Elizabeth

Lisa: I've been chatting to my husband about the diet. My son is 4 and is very active, doesn't listen, tantrums when he doesn't get his way. His language is very good it's just his behaviour. He starts school next year. He craves our attention so much and having 3 kids means we can't give it all to him and so hoping we can work out what foods are triggering certain behaviours. Thanks. It helps to chat to people who have similar issues.

My hubby wasn't 100% convinced with the diet until we reintroduced foods on a "challenge" and Mr 3s behaviour turned horrible again, then we both realised how much he'd changed - Elizabeth

Karina to Lisa: your son sounds very similar to my now 5.5 year old before we started the diet 2 years ago. Believe me when I say it's worth it xo. We are a happy functional family again. Sure, Mr 5.5 still has his moments, but it doesn't even compare to when he is off the diet. It was a good week before we saw any improvement. What we now know as 'normal' son took 3 weeks. In saying that he's particularly sensitive to the additives and preservatives and colours in food (one red lolly and we've got an angry aggressive boy again for a week) so it might be quicker for you. Good luck and best wishes.

Corrie: I am right there with you. We are not far in and have not gone the full diet and already we have a calmer child. She is still fairly inattentive but that we can manage, it is the tantrums, defiance, and aimless activity that is the tiring part.

Just thought I'd share. My son (now 12) was on the failsafe diet for a number of years due to his behaviour which was a result of food intolerances.

As a teacher, I see so many kids that would benefit from a change in diet but it is a very tricky subject to raise with parents. About 5 years ago, I taught a little boy with Autism. He was very bright but his behaviour was extremely challenging both at home and at school (picture a 5 year old hurling chairs through the classroom with 20 other kids ducking for cover).

Last week I received a lovely message from his mum, who found my name on facebook. She wanted to thank me for "changing his life". She did look into food intolerances and has made changes to his diet (and hers) and it has made a huge difference.

My point is....I know that this is a long and difficult journey. And sometimes people think you are crazy and don't believe that food is the culprit.

But I truly believe you can change your child's life by eliminating those foods that are not working, for whatever reason.

So stick with it. You are all doing such a great job at helping your child (or you) to become the best possible version of you - Jenny

We've just completed the Benzoates challenge. Holy moly I've never seen my 2yr old act like that - Belinda

We just had a 10 day reaction to benzoates with my 5 year old. Not pretty is it ???? - Louise

Benzoates are UUUUUUUUUGLY!!! - Lucinda

(Howard's comment: for challenges, dietitians usually recommend lemonade which contains a benzoate (210-219) preservative. Benzoates are also common in medicines, fruit juices, cordials and in many personal care products. See more in Benzoate story collection)

My 12 year (gluten sensitivity, nut and seasonal allergies) just had a reaction to the Annatto extract used in Earth Balance Soy Free Vegan butter. We've never used this product before but did some gluten free baking with it. Each time he ate the cookie we made, he had a respiratory reaction. He said he felt like his throat itched, he needs to cough and he keeps clearing his throat – Francesca USA

Has anyone had any success with fibromyalgia as my best friend is really struggling with chronic pain and depression and her sons have allergies and ASD? - Jen

I haven't formally had a diagnosis of fibro but I do suffer all over chronic pain, headaches and severe fatigue which was ruining my life. After 6 weeks failsafe, df and gf and although It's not completely gone it's 80% better than it was... I have tried all sorts of meds, nothing has worked better than this diet and I've tried a lot of different ones and doctors didn't know how to treat me or what was actually causing my illnesses so I gave up on them.. so this diet was a desperate resort and don't regret it.. tell her give it a go for 6 weeks if no changes then stop... got to do it strict tho it didn't work for me until I was strict and df/gf.. so good to not be in bed sleeping for days or not able to do anything because of the constant pain I couldn't explain because it is invisible to others they think it's in your head. . It kind of messes with your mind because you know it's not normal but nothing I did helped. Like I said I still suffer chronic pain and fatigue but it's controlled now when I never thought I'd find anything that would work - Melanie

I have CFS (Chronic Fatigue Syndrome), previously accompanied by FM (Fibromyalgia). The FM pain disappeared with the fs diet. It was excruciatingly painful all through the night for the sals challenge and now only comes back if I eat the wrong foods – Elaine

I went on this diet for other symptoms but have found my FM pain has significantly reduced - Sharyn

I've had a great help with my pain through this - Bianca

I might interest her to research Ehlers- Danlos Syndrome. A lot of people who have fibro fit the EDS criteria and there is a strong link with ASD and depression – Peta

Low salicylates might be good to try - I have a related immune issue and it completely eliminated my symptoms within a week - Clare

My mother had fibromyalgia for years (undiagnosed for most of it). At dietician’s advice she went off dairy and wheat and a few vegies and became a new person, she had energy, pain went. Amazing. The last few years she has been able to have small amounts of wheat and dairy without symptoms returning - Jasmine

Another fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue success story here. Getting started was so difficult as I was really unwell, so I spent a month gradually working my way up to it. Once I went onto strict elimination, my health improved quickly and dramatically. It's very surreal. I never considered that all my symptoms could be intolerances (I did the diet to support my daughter) and I have found very little about chronic, widespread pain being a possible sign of intolerances. Within 24 hours on my sals challenge I could barely walk again, due to pain... is this a really abnormal response, or just not talked about much? I'm 8-9 months down the track now and amines in particular give me fatigue symptoms and salicylates give me fibro-type pain. Sorbate preservatives also gave me pain throughout my body, but of a slightly different sort - Shireen

See also other stories:

Just a little bit excited and wanted to share.....after 4 long weeks plus two weeks waiting to see the dietitian and trialling the diet by ourselves Mister 5 has hit baseline. His sweet little personality is shining through and he is happy, sleeping through the night, rash gone and life is harmonious. Thanks to everyone who helped me along the way - digital support groups rock and I'm super grateful – Jackie

Once again, thank you SO much. Your care, concern and attention to detail are amazing - Sylvia

Thanks for your book and the information, having been ill for years and not realising that it is the food that I eat, it’s amazing, it’s so hard to get any Doctors to understand - Jean

Thanks again, Sue, for everything you’ve done, and continue to do. It must bring you such a feeling of vindication & joy when you read through the many different stories people have. I’m often amazed at the different ways people react to various things. Without you, our lives would all be much harder and I thank you sincerely from all of our family ­ Lyn

I've been told after many years of torture with allergies that I'm salicylate intolerant. Can you please send me the factsheet on what is safe to eat. I've been eating oat bread with chia seeds thinking it was a healthy choice. I'm from Ireland and when I ask for salicylate free products they look at me like I've two heads.

You'd be surprised at the number of pharmacists and medical profession who have no idea of sals allergy/intolerance.

I've been in intensive care five times due to anaphylaxis: the first one was penicillin, the second and third were anti-inflammatories: diclac (diclofenac) and then ibrupofen. I was being trialed for a non penicillin antibiotic and my airways closed within twenty mins. The other two times one was a take-away chicken curry and the last one was a cake while in the hospital. I had it in the cafe so they were able to take the cake for testing and (after two years of being tested for everything by the immunology team) they were finally able to tell me it was salicylates I was having an allergic reaction to. I knew I was allergic to aspirin after the anti-inflammatory episodes and as I thought penicillin but they think now it could be the colours in the capsules but they're not sure yet without further testing. However that was a month ago so I've been trying to cut as many salicylates as possible from my diet thanks to your site. For years I was prone to asthma attacks, blocked sinuses, swollen feet, bloating, constant tingling on my tongue, fatigue, fybromyalgia, streaming eyes and sweating. And to top it off I now have hypothyroidism and the eltroxin medication has not worked for me over the past two years.

Since trying to cut down on salicylates I've noticed most of the above symptoms have lessened greatly (apart from hypothyroid problem) but at the moment it's trial and error. Thanks again for you help. - Mary

Sue's comment: see a similar story [093] Life threatening anaphylactoid reaction to salicylates (October 2000)

I originally found your web site searching for a relationship between my anger outbursts and my food consumption and found it also got rid of my 24/7, five year, day-in day-out chronic back pain. I also had ongoing knee and wrist pain from years earlier that I had put down to being overweight as the pain started when the weight did and no xrays or ultrasounds found any issues.
In June 2010, I injured my lower back, it got better, then I would do some gardening or cut my toe nails, or spend too much time in the kitchen (I like to cook), and it would set it off again. After two years of pain /no pain, pain /no pain it stayed for five years.  Every second, day and night. I’m not fussed on pharmaceuticals available to me as they either didn’t work or I was a zombie, so I just put up with it. I bought a tens machine, table inverter, saw an osteopath, medicine man, two pain clinics, acupuncture … nothing helped for more than an hour or two.
In September 2016 I started ridding my diet of preservatives and numbers as I did some research on anger and food as I didn’t want to have to take the ”don’t kill people tonic” (black cohosh, chaste tree etc) for the rest of my life. I trialled this abstinence for six weeks as recommended, I wasn’t 100% off everything but probably around 80-90%. I went overseas for a couple of weeks which blew the diet then resumed the diet after Christmas realising that the anger crept in the more the preservatives did. I also noticed that the less numbers and preservatives I consumed the less back, knee and wrist pain I suffered. The more high preservative, high number foods I consumed the back, knee and wrist pain would kick in.
I already bought bread, toothpaste, wine and juice without numbers or preservatives and a year earlier had stopped buying baked beans, tinned spaghetti, sauces, soy and almond milk and changed my brand of peanut butter all because the ingredients in these pre-packaged delights had too much sugar/oil/salt. I didn’t realise preservatives and/or numbers were also in vegemite, crumpets, dried fruit, large volumes of oil like the type restaurants, takeaway shops and packaged food businesses (crisps, popcorn etc) use, cheese, dips, soda, jam, cordial, gherkins, artichoke hearts, beetroot (the last three pickled or tinned), biscuits, grapes, crackers, tacos, cakes, gravy as well as processed meat and prawns. I can’t believe the list goes on forever, other than the last two items these were things I ate, daily. Most thankfully I’ve found have alternatives for within other brands or other shops like health food stores for dried fruit or the Italian fruit shop for pickled vegies.
The damage within my back still exists as it kicks in hard with every period or too much party food. Chronic pain could all be resolved with a lack of acceptable poison.
Here are some recent examples….

* My husband & I went to trivia last Thursday night and to make it on time we needed to eat at the pub. The only vegan item on the menu (yes, I’m also vegan) I had eaten at the other pub they run on Tuesday, felt a bit of back pain on Wednesday and so have crossed that meal off the list as preservative free. Instead, I ate a large bag of crisps for dinner (I hadn’t bought crisps at home for two weeks to avoid them as I was eating a small amount almost every day…), took me two hours to consume but my back and knee pain was excruciating on Friday. You see, my brain can’t comprehend this, but it will eventually as Saturday, my back was a tad stiff but no pain and no pain in my knees.
* During my chronic pain I needed to do stretches and exercises every morning otherwise my entire back would stiffen up, if I missed four consecutive days I could barely walk. In the last two weeks I’ve not exercised or stretched four days straight, twice, and all without pain and minimal stiffness.
* Today I prepped food and cleaned up the kitchen for two hours, before I could just manage 30 minutes without needing to sit on a chair.

A lack of preservatives and numbers/additives in my consumption has also has greatly reduced/rid my recently developed OCD of locking my car multiple times and my depression that I’ve had since my late teens.
My injury is still with me as the damage has been done, but I can’t feel it unless I consume something silly. As is my anger, negativity, depression etc but it seems so far away I can scarcely feel it, it is no longer a highlight in my day.

I didn’t figure people wouldn’t believe me as everyone believed I had the pain I endured.

I was suicidal for the last 5 years coming to grips with the fact that this is as good as it gets and I’m only 40, how bad will this pain be when I’m 80. Not just my back pain, knee pain, chest pain, wrist pain, but can I stand to live with this pain for another 40 years. I changed careers because of it in my forties. Specialists have been telling me to lower my stress levels or lose weight or pace activities. I do all these things for months and no change. I stop consuming preservatives and after a couple of months I cannot feel the pain even if I look for it. And no one cares, no one believes me, maybe because I can’t get my head around it either but that doesn’t mean it’s not true. Both pain clinics I’ve been a patient at over the last few year just ignored me. I really appreciate that you have a place to share with the world the horrors of the food industry. – Alison

My daughter has been on strict elimination diet for 6 days, her rash has improved so much to the point of nearly being gone.  I knew tomatoes, strawberry, soy sauce and vegemite were definite triggers and I am still waiting to hear back from dietician about challenges after her skin has completely healed – Hannah



I suffered my first allergic reaction yesterday afternoon and didn't know what was happening to me. After eating half a bag of CC's for the first time in many years, I began to get increasingly tired and had a nap. When I woke up I felt a burning sensation in my lungs as I breathed in, followed by an intense itching and redness on the palms of my hands. After a minute or two the itching became a painful burning sensation, then the burning stopped and the itching spread to the back of my hands. I then noticed that the skin on the back of my hands seemed to be puffy and fluid filled and my fingers were swelling. 

The itching then spread to the soles of my feet and the rest of my body. The skin on my torso and thighs broke out in red spots and hives, I also noticed that swallowing was painful and there was an itching sensation in the back of my throat and on my tongue.

Luckily it didn't progress to anything more life threatening and my partner was there to take me to seek medical treatment.

I will contact the manufacturer to let them know I suspect flavour enhancer 635 as the culprit of these symptoms. Thanks again for the information, being able to make comparisons on the symptoms I had helped me understand what might have been happening with my body - Lubov

Lubov's update:

I got in contact with the Snackbrands Australia, who produce CCs, and their representative was lovely and very concerned. I let them know that I had a reaction to what I suspect was the flavour enhancer, and she told me I should check all labels carefully and avoid the ingredients that caused the reaction in the future. Common sense, but I appreciated the gesture all the same.

The doctor prescribed an antihistamine and Prednisone, that seemed to work really quickly. The chemist also recommended I try the foods again in small amounts to try and build up a resistance to it, but I haven't been game to do so thus far.

Sue's comment:

Our recommendation would be to take the advice from The Snackbrands rep - avoid the ingredients that caused the reaction. In our experience, 635 is different from all other additives. It is the only group of additives that actually affect the immune system and reactions seem to get worse not better in many people, see a few excerpts below.

Jennifer from story [483]  Started out with "the itchiest hive-rash I have ever had" - over several years, this progressed until every time she ate 635 by mistake "the swelling seemed to get worse and worse to the point where I was definitely at risk of anaphylactic shock ..."

Sharon from story [1443] "I ate about a handful of Dorito's or CC's or whatever, and the next day I had a lumpy itchy rash all over my breasts and upper chest that lasted two weeks.... " With several worsening reactions to small amounts over several years, Sharon avoided this additive. Then one day, she unthinkingly licked the fork she had been using to stir her husband's instant noodles (containing 635). The result was an immediate and lifethreatening swelling of the lips, tongue and throat. This additive has now been banned from their house.


Last year (2001), I ate about a handful of Dorito's or CC's or whatever, and the next day I had a lumpy itchy rash all over my breasts and upper chest.  Also on my upper thigh. I went to the bin and found the empty chip packet and noticed the new number 635.  Then I went to the doctor who, truth be told, didn't even wait for me to finish my "theory", but told me that it was probably because I have changed soaps or shampoos (which I hadn't).  I waited (painfully) for the rash to go away - about 2 weeks.  Then I tried the chips again, and the rash was back again.  Since then, I have re-read every label on everything we have bought.
Yesterday, I bought a packet of barbeque chicken flavoured rice crackers.  I had 6 of them, and about 30 minutes later my face felt as if it was on fire, and I got a few lumps on my face and neck.  I read the label - it has 635 in them.  I thought, this might be a coincidence, and I won't get the rash.  I tried to convince myself that I just had a few blemishes.  This afternoon the rash is back and exactly where it was last time, and driving me mad again.  My husband has just told me that my upper back is also covered.
First Update

 I have just inadvertently consumed some more 635!  Eek.  My daughter's friend made some two minute noodles "No MSG Added" - and I had a dessertspoonful - no more because I didn't like the taste - ten minutes later, whammo!  The burning started, so I went and checked. The ingredients list included chicken flavour and hydrolyzed vegetable protein (and there was 635).
Guess I should have read the packet before accepting!!!  Am I correct in thinking that the chicken flavour and hydrolyzed vegetable protein would both contain some form of MSG? (YES- Sue) In which case, does the "No MSG Added" tag really carry any weight, as the MSG is added within these products? (NO - Sue)
 I'm feeling very itchy and burny all over, and incredibly stupid for not checking ingredients before consuming!!!!

Second update

I bought a packet of rice crackers (Fantastic brand, I think, I have to check) - they were PLAIN - but had "Flavour Enhancer 635" added - what, are they really, really plain??  I fed the crackers to a friend but kept the wrapper!

Third update

After scrupulously avoiding these additives for several years, Sharon inadvertently licked the fork she had been using to stir her husband's instant noodles (containing 635) - the result was an immediate and life-threatening swelling of the lips, tongue and throat. This additive has now been banned from their house.

I went to see a dietitian about my son waking on average every hour, having been on a strict elimination diet for 2-3 weeks with no difference to his sleep. The dietician didn't tell me that the probiotic I was using was high in amines and didn't pick up that he was probably having too many amines from other food he was eating. I found out through the facebook group that the probiotic is high in amines. After two days of stopping it, my son started sleeping better. Last night, my son slept for 4.5 hours straight for the first time in 8.5 months. I can't thank you enough.
I've spend thousands on specialists trying to find out what is wrong with my son. Through your books and the forums, I've found out more than going to all of the specialists combined - member of facebook group

I wanted to say thank you for all of you help and support towards my son. We have seen a huge improvement, strict failsafe diet with no dairy and no wheat. I can't believe the change. Tummy and back are completely clear and face is nearly all clear too. – Jasmine


5 days into salicylate challenge. Nope. Nothing. Clearly no issues with salicylates. Day 6 - sweet Jesus, Mary and Joseph. All hell has broken loose this morning and I remember why I'm doing this!!!!!! – Mel from facebook group

My daughter has been suffering from urticaria for 18 months. One source of her outbreaks is natural yellow colour 160b annatto which causes welts and extreme itchiness and distress within about 10 minutes (probably a true allergy) – Leigh

A friend of mine gave me your DVD ‘Fed Up’ yesterday.  Well, I watched it this morning, and suddenly it felt like somebody understood what my daughter is like - she can be quite defiant when asked to do something she does not want to do, blames others for her behaviour (mainly her six year old brother), she is very loud, chatty, sings all the time when she is not chatting -  Sheridan.

We had behavior issues with our son. Failsafe saved our sanity! – Nan USA

Many many thanks for everything you do, even from the other side of the world, I would still be getting nowhere at all without yours and Sue’s experience! – Kathy UK


This hour of independent play is brought to you by the Failsafe diet! I am eternally grateful. - Kristen

Wow! I cannot believe I'm finally taking the time to write this email that I have been thinking about writing for nearly a year and a half (I am 15 now). I cannot even express to you in words how you have changed my life...

Before doing this diet, throughout childhood I have experienced a range of symptoms of food intolerance (ODD, OCD, depression and anxiety) but these were not bad enough to be classified as disorders. I had no idea that they could have a link to food.

I have also had IBS symptoms, feelings of panic/nervousness, irrational fears, inability to focus on thoughts at times, headaches, nauseousness, hyperactivity, reflux, 'weird' behavior (thought to be associated with ADHD), stomach aches and pains, food cravings and more. After doing the Diet and cutting out salicylates, amines and additives I already began to notice a WORLD of a difference. It was AMAZING!! When I started the diet in full (also cutting out dairy foods, wheat, grains and soy) the results were UNBELIEVABLE!!! My symptoms greatly reduced and (some even disappeared completely)!!!

Further, I was diagnosed with ADHD as well.  Although some of it is really ADHD (and I am medicated for it) I have found a large part of it (and behaviors associated with it) to be greatly influenced through diet!

When I first found the diet, I decided to do it, but take a break for the summer. I planned to begin it after I came back from sleep away camp that summer. I went to camp and ate EVERYTHING; I told myself nothing was off limits. I ate tons of high salicylate fruits and LOTS of artificial junk (candy, cake, lots of artificial preservatives, etc.) as well as lots of amines, dairy, some wheat and soy (all of which I now know I am sensitive to). Because of this, I developed an eating disorder, extreme anxiety, depression and worsened ADHD and stomach problems. I was under-weight and recommended to an Eating Disorder Clinic later on. I was so miserable; yet I remembered this diet... I decided to start it up again. So that fall, I started eating less and less of the high chemical foods I had been eating and more Failsafe foods. As I slowly cut out the foods I was sensitive, my body was starting to heal! The eating disorder, depression, anxiety, obsessive thoughts and awful stomach aches and pains went away!!! It was amazing!!!!

Now I have been sticking to mainly Failsafe foods (low salicylate, but a less strict approach to amines). I still avoid additives and glutamates though; as well as dairy foods, wheat, soy and grains.

Also, read your ebook "Fed Up With Food Intolerance: A Personal Story". It was moving and I like it very much. I liked it so much that I did "Character Summaries" and a "Character Chart" for some of the characters. I also recently finished creating a "Timeline" of events in the story and I did it just because.

What's more, you have INSPIRED me. Food intolerance is a HUGE passion of mine that I now know about (because of your site) and I want to help others and impact their lives the way you have. This information has touched me in a deep way  – Teenager (15, USA)


(Click to view large version)

I'm here to offload I'm afraid, after a super stressy and dramatic morning. My daughter is 23, mildly Aspergers, and with a long history of extreme highs, lows and over reactions. This morning she lost the plot more than probably ever before, literally turning her room upside down, screaming, hitting herself repeatedly in the face with both hands, while attacking me verbally and even threatening to kill herself.

Deep down, I do not believe that she is mentally ill in any way, in fact I would bet everything that she has eaten chocolate in the last 48 hours, and possibly a fair bit of it.

My sister and I, both in our 40's, gave up chocolate at least 15 years ago, and literally never touch it, because it makes us angry, and my daughter knows this. I've warned her about it many times, and the last time she lost her temper in an alarming way (at a security guard in the jobcentre of all places) it turned out that she'd eaten choc the 2 preceding days and she then swore off it herself.

I wish she was a little kid that I could dunk in an Epsom bath, and feed a strict elim diet.

As for the why, I would put the blame fair and square on phenylethylamine. It's the only amine found in chocolate, and so far, the only amine that makes me, my sis and daughter lose the plot in this kind of way. And the amine quantity is also much higher in choc than in other things. I am mid-way through my amine trial at present, but it's a strictly tuna/meat/bananas type of trial - chocolate is literally a safety issue in our family - specially as my daughter is now car driving age.

Because my sis and I have such a definite reaction to chocolate, I would actually be very scared of my girl approaching standard mental health services, and ending up either wrongly diagnosed with something terrible, which would make her feel even more 'like a freak' (being 'the autistic girl' has already made her feel that way to some extent through childhood) or being put on mind altering medication which could potentially cause massive, longer term damage to her mind and emotional coping capabilities. I'm hoping within a couple of days that we'll be able to discuss this properly.

Chocolate has a very dark side for some of us. I honestly think that there are thousands of violent crimes carried out every day in the world, purely due to people eating the wrong stuff for them.


She came home last night full of apologies and tears, and willing to admit that she's had chocolate over the weekend. I'm hoping she can see now that losing all control over your emotions and risking physical injury and worse, is not a fair swap for having a flavour in your mouth for a few minutes  – Kathy from UK.

Mission Abort!
Mission Abort!
Amines challenge status: EPIC Fail!
Who knew a banana, some cheese and chocolate could have such an extreme reaction!! Aggressive behaviour, terrible language, not listening to instructions, excessive bed wetting. Basically a little devil moved into my son and went nuts – Natalie

We lasted 3 days until I called it off, OMG, huge meltdowns, aggression and behaviour. My son is 7 and there was already talk of being expelled from school because his behaviour was so extreme. He is a different child on FS. His response to amines was huge. – Zoe

You have my utter sympathy. Chocolate amines in particular are literally dangerous to personal safety in our house! – Kathy

It's been about 13 years since we did the amine challenge and it still haunts me! Good luck - at least you know now – Linda

Amine challenges were horrific for us as well. Lasted 3 days and took a week to get out of his system. I have near panic attacks when I see him near anything amine now in fear of the unrest ? – Ash

My mother-in-law thought I was overreacting about food intolerances until she babysat my daughter on the day the amine challenge took its effect. My daughter did the head banging but also managed in one hour to majorly wet her pants 3 times and then do explosive diarrhea, thankfully that was on my mother-in-law's watch not mine. My daughter was 2.5 years old at the time and four years later she is still afraid of chocolate! – Ruth

My 3yr old was aggressive, started heading banging and literally throwing his whole body into the wall. Trashed his room. Hit and kicked us to the point we had to physically overpower and restrain him. He was a devil child. Scary stuff!! – Ashley

Our 6yr son was like that before diet. Every single day. Was really exhausting – Natalie again.

As a middle aged adult I aborted my amines challenge on day two .. I felt like I had drunk 20 cups of coffee .. brain was racing .. like too much adrenaline, anxiety, hyper , want to lots and quickly, hyper energised, but low level of tolerance.. not fun !!! If I wasn't an adult and knew to be nice to people regardless how I felt, I would have been horrible ?. So it made me realise how much this one little food chemical could affect kids’ emotions adversely. I really feel for affected kids, so often they would just be branded as having behavioural problems – Heather

For us amines are slow to take hold and very slow to eliminate - Paula

My son took about 3 or 4 days to show signs and 6 days for a melt down. Yesterday was horrific. Today he is wonderful again after only 24 hrs on FS – Natalie again

That's amines for yah, and tomorrow you might wake up in a really bad mood as well – Julie

When my husband did the amine challenge he couldn't fall asleep and when he finally did he woke up a couple of hours later and couldn't get back to sleep. He was also really constipated. For the two years prior to this he had been taking a herbal sleep supplement just to fall asleep every night. He hasn't taken it since and as long as he is careful about amines hasn't had any more sleep issues – Ruth

Amines factsheet and more reader stories

My mum reported a reaction to MSG while on a China tour in 2011:

“We'd been in Shanghai for three days, eating three Chinese meals a day. I started to feel sick and developed a headache on the fourth morning. Had a coffee and cake thinking it might help. Then we had lunch, another Chinese meal. After lunch we were catching a bus to a market and then on to an overnight train trip to Sian. While waiting for the bus I started to feel faint. I sat on a step. I must have said at this stage that I thought it was a reaction to MSG, because I'd had headaches and nausea from it before. My sister encouraged me to get up when the bus came but I got as far as the gutter and collapsed into anaphylaxis. I was barely conscious, couldn't move. Our tour leader called an ambulance and one came fairly promptly, I think. In the ambulance a herb-y tablet was put under my tongue. Apparently my blood pressure was very low. My sister was with me, very concerned.

At the hospital I was taken to a private room and put on, first, a vitamin C drip then a ginkgo biloba one, over several hours. I revived enough to ask what they were giving me. Meanwhile, our tour leader was phoning ahead to ask for no MSG in any of our meals. Several of the group had been feeling off. While no-one in China would talk openly about MSG, the absence of it from the rest of our meals certainly made a lot of people feel better. My doctor, when we returned, agreed that MSG was most likely the cause of my collapse.” - Australian dietitian

I have experienced a food allergy for approximately two years and have only just discovered that the allergen is annatto.  I experienced turning sunburn red, itching, stinging, burning from my scalp to my toes.  The reaction was always the same, lasted  one and one-half hours each occurrence, was painful, and occurred after eating varying foods: mustard, seasoned sausage, desserts, crackers, salads from my favorite deli.  After eating a Sargento’s cheddar cheese stick and having this painful reaction, I read the label of this cheese product and annatto was listed.  I researched the additive and have since avoided it and have not had another reaction.  It is dose related for me.  If I ingest a small portion of this additive, I do not react - Christi USA

(Note that annatto can even cause life-threatening anaphylactic reactions in some people

I am a 42 year old male that has bad reactions to annatto as well as other colors. I have suffered depression/anxiety, obsessive thoughts, tennis elbow, and have been very unhappy since my mid to late teens. Around 3 years ago I gave up Mountain Dew* just to be healthier. My body and mind responded by feeling better. After researching more I gave up other colors. My annatto find for me was waking one morning to angry obsessive thoughts "they came back". I dug through the trash can to find garlic bread with annatto color. By not eating or drinking foods with color I am happier and can find joy. I only wish I had known this 30 years ago - David USA

*Mountain Dew contains sugar (replaced by high fructose corn syrup HFCS in much of the United States), concentrated orange juice (salicylates), citric acid, natural flavors, preservative sodium benzoate 211, caffeine, sodium citrate, erythorbic acid, gum arabic, calcium disodium EDTA (label claims "to protect flavor" however its purpose more accurately stated is to prevent benzene formation by chelating the metal ions present in water that can act as catalysts in the reaction between sodium benzoate and erythorbic acid. producing the carcinogen benzene), brominated vegetable oil and artificial color Yellow 5 (tartrazine 102).

I discovered the connection between sodium lactate and anxiety when remarkably calm days in my daughter were abruptly interrupted shortly after eating "natural" bacon with sodium lactate as the only unrecognizable ingredient of an otherwise simple meal.  Interestingly, when my daughter had calmed down from what I would describe as one of her typical rageful, irritable, oppositional tantrums (pre-failsafe), she in her own words had felt "jittery", a term I'd never heard her use before. Wikipedia says that this naturally derived preservative  can cause panic attacks in patients with existing panic disorder - thanks to Diane USA

[Howard comment: presumably the other food additive lactates (326, 327, 328, 329) would produce the same response in those susceptible].

I am very excited to say I have had my sensible, chatty, clever little boy back for five whole days!! three weeks into strict failsafe – Elena

Loved Sue’s books for the stories, they're so uplifting and make you feel like "I can actually do this!" – Elizabeth

Thank you for making the information so accessible to us parents learning about chemicals in food..  It has been a huge help - Janelle

We are testament to this diet. Amazingly bright focused kids - Emma

FAILSAFE eating has improved my son's attention and fidgeting heaps, he goes to bed easier and seems calmer and more focused.

We have not excluded dairy as we had no reason to believe this to be a cause of any of his behaviours but since starting FAILSAFE, I have noticed he has become more defiant (he has always been quite stubborn and headstrong, but I feel this has worsened).  We are not under a dietician at present, but are seriously considering this …

UPDATE (2 weeks later)

I just want to start by saying thanks! You guys (facebook page, website and emails) are just so supportive and I am so grateful for it.

Just a bit of feedback on the dietician: we took our 5 year old son to see one of your recommended dietitians. She uses the RPAH handbook as pretty much like a bible. She had it out and referred to it heaps. She's definitely someone to keep on the list of dieticians who support FAILSAFE and who encourage their patients in the same direction as what you do. She is very helpful, clear and understanding and I'm very glad we went to see her.

With her guidance, we have decided to start the challenges after being on the strict elimination diet for 3 weeks. She thinks we are ready. 

We have switched to A2 milk and there is definite improvement in the defiance mentioned in my previous email. So thanks for that.

I have your books Fed Up and the Failsafe Cookbook, read pretty much everything on your website and am on the facebook group. Thank you for all these resources, we couldn't do it without them! – Aldine

I was very surprised that my son has completely stopped freaking out over loud noises. The lawn mower would have him in a fit of panic, using my Thermomix was like torture to him, electric toothbrush, hair clippers, even the loud noise of the air coming out of the vents in my car with the air con on (we would get in the car and he would scream please turn it off mummy!!).. he just miraculously became oblivious to these noises that affected him so severely once failsafe. He's even started letting the plug out of the bath now, which he never did because the noise of the water slurping down the drain was too uncomfortable for him. We had our first tear free haircut last weekend! I never would have guessed that to be food intolerance related. He's also not stuttering anymore - he would get stuck on the first word or two of a sentence if he was overwhelmed and repeat it over and over unable to finish the sentence. It hasn't happened once since we started. My son used to scream at me NO DON'T SING MUMMY if I tried to sing along with him to a song. Ok with his own sound but not that of others – Ash

See hyperacusis factsheet

See stuttering factsheet

Often on this page people talk about their struggles and challenges. I thought I'd put up some (unexpected in some cases) positives from being on the diet noting that everyone experiences different changes. So here we go.....

Stronger hair and nails
Skin has cleared   
No flaky skin on arms and legs
No more itchy and scratchy
No more 'dandruff'
No more nosebleeds
Reduce period (duration and flow)
Gut pain gone
No urgency for the toilet
No more unexplained anaphylaxis
Overall inner feeling of being happier and healthier!

It has been a struggle and I miss many of the foods I liked to eat but the rewards and benefits far out way this. Good luck on your food journeys! - Wendy

Reduced anxiety (my symptom, in the spirit of this post) - Paula

No more migraine. (Amines and 160b) – Judy

+ msg, This one I can relate to soo much, plus less anger/light switch moods - Maureen

Did not know nosebleeds were associated with it but must say mine have decreased since taking out preservatives – Lyn (see

I felt the same - I was well albeit very restricted but I didn't care...Teresa

I didn't make the link but yes you're right. My nails, skin and hair are much better and I haven't had a nosebleed for years. The best though is no PMS or cramps! – Jennifer

No more passing out. No more asthma. Less angry. Calmer and happier. No more Rosacea   ? – Diana

Hadn’t linked rosacea with it but mine has definitely improved – Lyn (see

I recall telling my dietician one day that I felt happy for no reason. It was so foreign to me! - Renae

When I first started failsafe elimination diet 18months ago my husband laughed saying "you are probably the only person who goes on an elimination diet and finds more food to eat". I was so reactive that I could barely eat and was underweight having lost 10+ kg – Elaine

No more brain fog, tinnitus or black bags under my eyes – Lynda

My tinnitus are still a problem, but the pin pricks all over my body are gone. Itching, and panic attacks are gone as well. I got lazy in December and now struggle to be good. Maybe that is the cause of tinnitus – Anne

So much more energy! Felt fantastic. Best I felt in years! Bouncy even ? – Liz

This is my little boy standing on grass. 4 weeks ago this was causing him pain. So grateful for the research that has gone into this diet and the number of ways it has helped my family.

We were introduced to failsafe in 2009 and read Sue's book FedUp with ADHD (now an ebook called Fed Up with Food Intolerance: the personal story

We chose to attempt the diet as my eldest had been diagnosed with ADD (ie inattentive but not hyperactive). We spoke to a dietician but it was clear from one visit that I was more familiar with the diet than she was and that she was half-hearted in her support so we did not go back but did the diet on our own.

We went through 6 weeks of strict elimination diet during which I can say that I did not notice the benefits. I say this because I think it is easier to see the negatives rather than the positives in most situations. For example, everyone notices the naughty child in the class but how many stop to commend the child sitting quietly in the corner getting on with their work?

We then proceeded with the Salicylate Challenge. Within 2 days we noticed the negative impact of salicylates.

Child 1 (C born 2001, aged 8 at the time, diagnosed with ADD)
- Cloudiness or fogginess returned to his mind.
- Major impact on his co-ordination. I mean - on his scooter aiming for the door and hitting the wall. During the six weeks we were on strict FAILSAFE he had no issues with this.
- A few behavioral  changes
- During the six week elimination period we had attended a weekend and he had sat still for 2 days straight, paying attention, not even interested in the snacks and other items I had brought along to help get them through - unheard of. We attend the same convention every year and this is the first year he has EVER sat through more than an hour without fidgeting.

Child 2 (D born 2006, aged 3 at the time, no diagnosed issues)
- Sensitivity to textures
- Had issues identifying the difference between hot and cold - I mean, he wears warm clothes in summer and virtually nothing in winter. Under the shower he would say, the water is too hot but meant it was too cold. This was the same child who knew he left from this right but couldn't tell hot from cold.
- Wetting his pants. During the elimination period he was completely toilet trained. On the salicylate challenge he would stand next to me and say "I need to go to the ...." and not even get the phrase out before he wet his pants. It was like the salicylates were blocking the message.

Adult 1 (N born 1977, aged 32 at the time, diagnosed with depression and had an allergy to cats and dogs since 14yo)
- I am no longer allergic to cats and dogs and removing salicylates from our diet is THE ONLY thing I can put it down to. Allergy has not returned.

Adult 2 (P born sometime last century, about 62 at the time, dealing with side-effects of childhood polio)

Pat had polio when she was two and has been a very active and determined lady her whole life but with her illnesses has had many side effects. She had moved from calipers into a wheelchair and had been in the wheelchair for about 5 years. She has ALWAYS suffered with incontinence as far back as she can remember and irregular bowel motions.

During the elimination period Pat was relieved from her incontinence (no pun intended) and passed her first normal bowel motion IN YEARS!!

We carried on and went back on the elimination diet and then a few weeks later tested amines. The boys seemed to be mildly affected, particularly with leg cramps.

So, for a number of years we were a FAILSAFE family. Over the years, as the boys have grown up, amines have been better tolerated and salicylates have slowly crept back into our diet. When we have overloaded on a particular meal I would use the "bi-carb antidote" to settle the kids back down and it would have an impact within half an hour.

9 years later

Then in 2016 I noticed some of the symptoms returning. In particular with Daniel (now aged 10 and the little boy in the photograph). He would walk around on this tip toes regardless of the surface - tiles, grass, pavement, beach sand - that's if he was FORCED to go bare foot. Even wearing thongs he would still tip-toe.

The particular day I realised how bad it was for him was when we went to the beach with friends. He complained that the grass was actually HURTING his feet. This grass was that really soft grass, no prickles or stones or anything. It was as painful to him as walking on gravel.

Then when we got the beach sand he wanted to put his sneakers back on. Well, I insisted he go bare foot because I thought "you don't wear sneakers down on the beach". Well, he refused to leave his deck chair. Later in the day I agreed for him to put his shoes on because, well, he had been on the chair most of the day and OFF HE RAN to go play and make sandcastles.

So, I decided that we should go on strict elimination again because it seemed that the levels were now producing visible symptoms that were impacting on his quality of life.

After 4 weeks on the elimination diet (but eating amines such as bananas and oranges) [OOPS: this is a mistake  - oranges and all citrus are very high in salicylates - Sue] we were able to take the photograph above. This is the same type of grass that had given him pain a few weeks earlier.

So, since salicylates were the only thing we had removed from the diet I conclude it had to be salicylate related.

We are so grateful for the research that has produced this diet. Sue's cookbook is our favourite. It seems the recipes are all trialled and tested. My one issue is the amount of sugar in many of the recipes - Natalie

[Howard comment: the sugar is there to make this way of eating initially interesting to kids, rather than a punishment. Then you can reduce it bit by bit and they will still like it. The same goes for the high fat content of some recipes.]

I had asthma for over 30 yrs. haven't had it in the last 5.  ?

I thought my asthma was for life. I had allergies as a teen. Asthma at 21. I thought I had food issues. Was told it was all in my head. Tried everything. Tried this diet because I adopted a son who had food issues. He ate and reacted. That got me to failsafe and the rest is history. Breathing was the first relief, then the weight fell off – Gayle

Just want to say so happy! At my DD prep info night her teacher said if they seem to be having behavior issues the school will work with the parents to look at factors like diet. .. and there is an amazing lady called Sue Dengate. He went on to add it is amazing the natural things kids react to and both of his kids did fail safe and know their triggers.

The teacher told me today to bring in some stuff that my kid is allowed when the others are having things she doesn't (one of the other mums was taking about bringing in iceblocks for her kids birthday) – Jennifer

We leave a treat bag of failsafe goodies with the teacher and re stock it each term. Also have a wonderful lady on the canteen who stores our magic cordial ice blocks and cupcakes for when classmates have birthdays – Nicole

Great news! Our small catholic primary is also failsafe friendly. Canteen has pear juice slushies, gf options and lots of food is made from scratch on site without additives. Happy to order in special foods for you or you can bring things from home for them to heat on canteen day. Also store treats for when birthdays are celebrated too. They also have strict rules about not sharing food. I find teachers are well versed in food intolerances and happy to support your plan.  ? – Liz

Do any CFS sufferers experience withdrawal symptoms while doing the strict elimination diet? My partner is a week into the strict elimination diet and his CFS is getting much worse and he is experiencing new symptom (emotionally he feels like his whole body is crying). How can you distinguish between CFS symptoms and strict elimination diet symptoms? What does baseline mean in the elimination diet? Thank you - Max

The RPAH book and my allergist tells you to expect withdrawal. I was so ill and so medicated and all over the place I have no idea if I did. I have now recovered. You need to continue until you can tell there is enough of a difference that you will be able to tell if the symptoms start again when you test the foods. Max 8 weeks. Stick with it! - Jennifer

I had unbelievable amounts of pain during my withdrawal phase. I am failsafe for CFS and whilst it hasn't been the whole answer for me, I have made measurable improvements on this diet. Keep pushing through this phase. If he feels much worse it's generally a sign that there probably are food intolerances involved - Sally

With CFS the stress on the body can seriously aggravate your ME/CFS symptoms and cause relapse that can last a long time. From personal experience and a lot of reading, I suggest taking the diet slower than most people have to and make smaller changes to start with – Shannon

I've had EBV, CMV, CFS, SLE, pernicious anemia, multiple allergies, amines sensitivity, endometrosis and fertility issues. I was on endone and endep daily. I started the elimination diet as part of treatment for my breast fed baby with significant allergies. Initially we both crashed terribly, it took over a month to plateau then start to rebuild. We currently have just over 10 safe foods. We have been on low - mod diet for over 3 months and I have been medication free for 6 weeks and have the least pain I can ever remember. I do take probiotic Osteo D Vit c zinc and magnesium supplements plus Vit b injections. I'm still tired but have been able to go back to working 4 days a week. It's the best thing I've ever done but was absolutely terrible for the first 4-6 weeks. Hope that helps – Rel

Amines seem so far to be one of my biggest problems. Once they start to build in my system they cause great problems to my muscles, which cease to function properly; they don't turn on properly, which leads to pain from postural issues; I get restless and jittery; and everything starts to get overwhelming, which makes me snappy, teary, and unable to deal with everyday stress – Sally again.

Factsheet on chronic fatigue

My son had a severe stutter that disappeared within 3 days just by making the initial changes recommended on - switching to A2 milk, failsafe icecream, eliminate milk chocolate only milkybar white choc, failsafe bread etc. Eventually I eliminated dairy in stages.

Finding out about failsafe was a lifesaver. He had that stutter on/off for 2 years. Speech therapy didn't work because of his behaviour - he wouldn't engage consistently in order to do the Lidcombe program for 6 months. We were referred to RCH Melbourne unit for the more difficult cases of stuttering. It's been 10 months now and never returned - Marion

Try going cold turkey, you may be surprised by the benefits. I went hardcore as soon as I'd digested all the info and my entire life started turning around for the better within three days. I was gobsmacked by how fast Failsafe worked for me - Pam

Sue changed our lives, our eldest daughter was intolerant to salicylates and amines. And we then learnt how important it is to avoid additives and preservatives in foods - Stephanie

I was first exposed to your work 7 years ago when our daughter was 3. Her behaviour went off the wall all of a sudden and we had no idea why. My mother-in law asked if I had changed the bread we were eating. Which we had. We had gone from buying Brumby's to Aldi for budget reasons. She told me to check if it had 282 in it & sure enough it did. We changed back and the behaviours dissipated. Of course I started checking everything for 282 then. She also gave me her copy of Fedup she used for her youngest son. What an eye opener! – Belinda Smith, The Root Cause  

160b, annatto: Twice I had severe heart irregular beat and ended up in hospital. Felt like dying. It happened to me one hour after eating red leicester cheese – from UK


First photo prior to failsafe eating. I saw numerous doctors regarding my son’s reaction to foods, this includes two allergists, neither mentioned RPAH diet. His eczema has now gone completely, bowels now normal and he’s generally doing well thanks to the diet and help from members of this Network. His other symptoms were runny nose, watering eyes, warm to touch, loose bowels/diarrhea and the red skin.

Second photo today, 9 months after starting failsafe. He is still sensitive to sals, dairy and egg but tolerating amines much better and seems to be gaining more tolerance every week. Looking forward to introducing more foods - thanks to Lia.

Hi, all! I just discovered the Failsafe elimination diet after talking with my yoga instructor, who found it helped determine what foods caused her AI disease to flare. After reading up on it, though, it seems to be geared more towards children with behavioural disorders. Are there any adults that have found success for other conditions with Failsafe eating? Specifically, my problems are gastrointestinal due to IBS and SIBO as well as frequent headaches, fatigue, and joint pain. I have been following low FODMAP for quite some time now and it has only made things worse. – Jessica

Failsafers respond:

Haven’t been in hospital with anaphylaxis since I began diet. Was going every 2 weeks, covered in hives swollen like a balloon constantly, on daily nebulisers and worsening asthma. I am only 36. Now no migraines, arthritis died down, no pms, cholesterol now normal, blood sugar normal, hives anaphylaxis gone, asthma improved and in combo with Fodmaps goodbye IBS. Immunologist who put me on diet has literally saved my life – Josephine

It has definitely helped me with migraine headaches! They haven't gone away, but they are not quite as severe when I consume only low sals – Cindy

It has helped me with the gastrointestinal symptoms as well as mouth ulcers, irregular/heavy/painful periods (If I completely break the diet for a week I will miss my period that month), sleep issues including nightmares/insomnia/sleep walking, headaches, bladder weakness and mood – Ruth

Yes to IBS (had to give up wheat for that as well though), headaches, fatigue and joint pain (which came as a surprise to me on day 5 of elimination) – Lareina

Yup. I had chronic hives, but have also found joint pain is much less, fatigue is generally better and gut health seems to be much better – Emma

Failsafe has helped me with stomach issues and headaches. There is very little overlap between Fodmaps and failsafe vegetables, so quite likely that if Fodmaps made things worse, failsafe could be very helpful! – Ruth

I found it was helpful for my whole family. Turned out we are all sensitive to Sals and I found that my asthma was actually a allergy to sulphur. It also helped with headaches and my husband’s heart palpitations stopped and we all sleep so much better now. Definitely worth doing! – Lisa

I have had all the symptoms you mentioned, throughout my adult life. Only just discovered the causes by trying failsafe – Bron

I have IBS related symptoms and have found relief – Courtney

Me. Hives, gastro and mood issues all helped! Even some I didn't realise were symptoms like frequent urination – Fiona

I discovered the Failsafe diet 15 years ago when I was 30 and have never looked back. Healthier, happier and sleep better - Nat

My 6 year old has recently been diagnosed with ADHD. I've been on this group for a couple of years and watched and thought about doing this failsafe approach. Honestly it's looked so daunting. I take little bits here and there and try and keep packets out of the house as often as I can. However this new diagnosis makes me think I need to do this now! I've seen random posts of ADHD parents on here. Do you find it helps to keep your children off medication? This is my absolute aim, as well as improving my daughters behaviour!

Failsafers respond:

Simplistic version, but pretty much four options:
1. It's truly ADHD, and ADHD without any comorbid food intolerance. Elimination diet will make no difference.
2. It's an incomplete diagnosis that is missing other elements such as processing disorders, without food intolerance. Elimination diet will make no difference.
3. It's ADHD, with or without other conditions, but with comorbid food intolerance. Elimination diet won't be a fix, but may improve your child's experience, potentially removing much of the emotional instability.
4. It's food intolerance misdiagnosed as ADHD. Elimination diet will remove the symptoms, removing the diagnosis.
How will you know? Elimination diet. In 3-4 weeks you'll know if diet is involved. – Tracy

Initially I did the moderate approach for a month listed on the website - and it confirmed that my son had intolerances. I then found a dietician that was listed on website that could assist me. Its definitely worth doing   - Joanna

Joanna-  Same, and just found a dietician from the website. It's the small things, like having vanilla ice cream without 160b, white potato and no more tomato...changed behaviour dramatically. Never ceases to amaze me. Find a printout of the negligible low mod and high sals / amines etc and go from there. – Samantha

We had some success with master 8 with his ADHD. We now know foods to avoid and which foods to limit ie. Only one apple per day etc. We've done med trails for all the different type of drugs that were recommended to us and for our son we didn't feel the improvement of the meds was worth the mood changes etc. long term. Don't be afraid to try a therapeutic approach with a naturopath and a therapist. We've found both to be very helpful long term for our son. I wish you well. It’s a hard road ahead. (No offense meant to the parents out there that find medication to be helpful. I'm just giving my personal experience.  We had some success on the Ritalin LA but not enough to warrant staying on it. Our son has terrible anxiety and for him, the meds only made his symptoms worsen but you're absolutely right, every child is different and I have 2 friends that find the medication more than helpful for their children. Life changing even. The stigma that goes around the meds is so varied and as a mum I know how hard it is to make the decision to use the aid of medication and not have family and friends be supportive of your decision. I would never judge or mean to offend anyone  :) We would still try the meds again because I'm a believer in doing everything I can help my child, which means trying everything out there that may help him. - Aimee

Yes!! My 9yr dd was diagnosed with ADHD, ODD and also ASD. Since we have started this diet she is a different kid (for the better). She herself loves the diet because she feels normal again.  Even the paediatrician saw the difference and was happy for us to not use medication because of the changes her teachers and we had seen.  It's very daunting (sorry, probably not what you want to hear) but I would suggest reading the fed up book and seeing a dietician. I wouldn't go into this half armed as then you'd just be setting yourself up for failure and stress.  It's totally worth it though – Kylie

My Asperger’s, ADHD son responded well behaviourally to failsafe. Preservatives and colours made him very impulsive and physical. It cannot take his disability away but it stopped added behaviour. Update: BTW we started off strict in the beginning but now avoid the things that affect him. Started at around 5or 6 I think he is now 15 I have no idea how things would have gone if I hadn't have found the failsafe diet – Petrina

We did failsafe (and continue to do so) for my daughter's ADHD issues. We have tried with just FS alone but she's quite a severe case and so she is medicated as well. She's particularly sensitive to preservatives so any consumption at all, no matter how small, and her behaviour is off the charts crazy for three days straight and her medication has no effect on her at all! So we are very careful, as it isn't worth getting lazy or not checking labels carefully.

I realise your ultimate goal is to keep your son off medication but please bear in mind that living with ADHD is a lot harder than having to parent a child with it. I have ADHD and my daughter is as severe as mine. I've gotten a lot better at not being so impulsive and over the top as an adult but as a child I really struggled at school. I'm of above average intelligence but my grades never reflected it because try as hard as I did, it was impossible to concentrate fully or retain all I was being taught when I was at school. I'm 42 and medication wasn't even an option back when I was a child. It was a miserable existence and I can remember very clearly doing the most ridiculous, dangerous, stupid things and how terrible I felt when I naturally got into trouble constantly from my parents, teachers, neighbours, etc. My self-esteem was pretty low because I basically felt like a total screw up who couldn't do anything right, couldn't remember what I was told, couldn’t do what I was asked, etc. Now I'm the parent and I try to be more flexible and understanding with her although I will gladly admit there are some days where I have zero patience with her at all because it gets tiring having to watch her constantly, remind her, direct her, etc. Without medication, my daughter would not be able to function. She has an IQ of 140 but she would learn nothing at school. When she graduated preschool (before she was old enough to medicate), the teachers told me she hadn't even learned how to write her own name because no matter what strategies they had tried, she had never been able to sit still long enough to focus on learning to write. She also spent a lot of her playtime on the naughty mat. I felt so bad for her when I heard all of that. Aside from her education, I can pretty much guarantee she would have no friends, as she can be very rude, impulsive and hurtful when she's not medicated. She doesn't mean it and feels terrible later when nobody wants to talk to her or people exclude her because of her behaviour. That's not something I'm willing to let her suffer through. She cannot help that she has ADHD as much as any child can help any other medical condition they have. I'm certainly not going to withhold medication for my own arbitrary beliefs if there is a potential benefit that will improve her life, her education, her relationships etc.

I'm not trying to sound preachy about it because we all have differing views on whether to medicate or not and it's always an individual decision but I just wanted to put forward the idea that sometimes we need to think about how life feels for our children and whether they are happy within themselves when it comes to their behaviour. I know many ADHD kids hate the fact that their brain doesn't work the way they want it to and they way they think it is meant to. They don't like the feeling of not being entirely in control of their own behaviour even when they desperately want to behave and be good and just be "normal" etc.

Anyway, yes FS is daunting but you won't know what kind of success it could bring until you really give it a go. I have another child with ADD and I found that FS didn't really have an effect on him at all and he still needed medication (he's 19 now and no longer takes medication but he is definitely a much milder case than my daughter). There are some kids for whom FS is a real game changer and indeed some improve so dramatically in their behaviour that medication isn't considered necessary but I find from the countless stories here and in an ADHD group I'm a member of on FB, that most kids will fall on the bell curve somewhere, between having no improvement to a fantastic improvement and kids like my daughter who are in the middle, where removing some things from her diet has made a definite improvement but it hasn't resulted in the ability to stop her medication. And that's okay too. We're all just doing the best we can for our kids. If you choose to try FS, there's so much support and so many other parents you can ask for support. It was hard at first but it quickly got easier and there are much better options out there now than when we first did FS 12 years ago, that's for sure. Good luck if you decide to give it a go. – Lucinda

My son has inattentive ADHD no foods can fix that, but foods give him added crankiness, irritability, teary and hyper, all symptoms that don’t come with inattentive ADHD and I can only control those with the FS diet. – Karly

Omg yes!!! This diet is a lifesaver!! We were on the school speed dial list before term finished, anger issues, couldn't control emotions, discipline of all degrees made no difference. 3 weeks on the diet and I have a different kid!! The days when I mess up accidentally I can tell and so can the school. – Madonna

Yes x 3. ADHD and loads of other diagnosis! When my boys somehow get food or drink with preservatives, colours, flavours it is 6 days of worse behaviour, reduced concentration, even more hyper and aggression! The older 2 are still medicated but have now weened off Concerta! If I hadn’t been introduced to Sue Dengate’s book Fed Up 8 years ago I know our family life would have been so much worse and our home would of been wrecked. Also because of aggression would have our own bed reserved at the hospital! – Tru

We did failsafe but ended up heading towards GAPs and then resuming back to failsafe – Tegan

We were told at nearly 5 that we would get an ADHD and ODD diagnosis and to read up about Ritalin -I never did instead we went on the diet -changed after 2 days - when we went back the paediatrician was so amazed and said she could no longer give the diagnosis but as my daughter got older to check that she was still doing ok at school -well she is B +C's on her report card, reading levels well on track, behaviour good (while on the diet) – Roxanne

Yes! The behaviour of my 5 yo ds have changed so much since starting FS, it's been incredible to watch at times. Impulsiveness, self-control, tantrums have improved out of sight. He is a completely different child, though still not perfect. He may still end up on medication of some sort. but I suspect he has various nutritional deficiencies affecting his nervous system, so will be taking him to the behavioural neurotherapy clinic soon, mentioned above by a pp. – Marion

I have a child with ADD (inattention) we found diet change only did so much. She has had problems with salicylates and sulphites in particular. OT assessment and therapy gave us some great tools as well. We are currently testing out a low dose of medication and have noticed some changes with concentration and being more 'switched on'. Our goal has always been to increase her availability for learning (which we are finally having some gains with - hooray!) If your child is better off on some medications as well there is absolutely nothing wrong with that. The best part is that they can be stopped if they are not working. I think if you always remind yourself that you are their parent and know what is best for them you can't go wrong. Best of luck! - Shay


This is my 9 year old. He survived meningitis twice as a baby and was constantly unwell. Dr's thought he had IgA Deficiency but by around 2 he seemed to become much healthier. But then he was allergic to everything and his eyes would swell and itch and run. "Just allergies" they'd say. His behaviour was getting out of control too. One minute I'd see the most loving caring child, next minute... devil child from hell!! As a kindy teacher and childcare director for 19 years I tried everything! He had become... THAT kid!! Angry, impulsive, unable to control his emotions or his temper. I was having flashes of his future being a jail cell!! Then I noticed yellow and orange set him off the most and so the painful, looooooong, mistake-ridden, blind trial began! At first it was tomato sauce, pumpkin, yellow or orange lollies etc. but then he would react with something completely different and once again I would just go back to... he's not food sensitive... it's just poor parenting!!!

For years we did this until one lady said... "He's not allergic to Salicylates is he???? Omg.... after a 'what the' face... I investigated!! We are 3 weeks in to the failsafe diet and OMG!!!!! I have my patient, beautiful, well mannered, no trucker talk, caring son back!!! The school has even taken my number off speed dial!!! This is a long story I know... but I just want to say thank you to each of you people on this page! Your stories, your pictures, your advice have helped our family so much! The allergies have almost disappeared and now we are able to recognise triggers!! And to all those new mums starting off... there is hope at the end of this long road. Xo – Madonna

For me personally, this diet has literally saved my life. Last year I was very sick with constant diarrhea for months on end, I lost 20 kg in weight & was so weak I could barely get out of bed to use the ensuite. My husband took me from doctor to doctor, naturopath to naturopath & no one had any answers. The more things I took to 'heal' me, the worse I got. We had resigned ourselves to the fact that I would die. I rewrote my will & wrote farewell letters to my boys. It wasn't until I developed hives, that I thought this might be food related. I scoured the internet & found this site. After reading about this diet everything made sense to me. And I haven't looked back since starting it.

I don't see this diet as dangerously restrictive but rather a traditional diet. My grandmother died last year at the ripe old age of 100 & never had any health issues. Some of that is genetic but I now believe it was also the traditional diet she ate. My parents are both in their 80's & they eat the same diet & are very healthy. Most of what they eat is on the low level - porridge, fresh meat, green beans, choko, eggs, brushed potato, with a few mods as well, carrots, pumpkin etc. They don't eat much fruit & when they do its usually apples & bananas - Sharyn

Today I saw an 11 year old boy who had been so depressed and anxious that the paediatrician had prescribed anti-depressants. Everyone was at their wits’ end - there had been quite a rapid onset over 9 months or so of bedwetting, violence at school, terrible anxiety and sadness. We delayed starting the anti-depressants until he had tried salicylate exclusion and 4 weeks later, he sat in my consulting room laughing and smiling. All bed wetting had ceased and mood was back to normal.  He said to me “I am not going to eat those salicylates ever again- they make me feel so bad”! His mum said “I have my beautiful boy back” – from a supportive GP

This Melbourne person ended up in hospital with a severe reaction after eating a veggie burger and soy sauce containing flavour enhancer 635, a booster for MSG.

This additive was approved for use in Australia without any scientific evidence and has caused severe itchy rashes and a wide range of other serious symptoms in hundreds of people. Numerous attempts to get the food regulator FSANZ to examine the issue have been met with silence.

Here is Graeme's story.


"I bought a veggieburger at the supermarket based on 'natural', fresh' etc labelling.  It contained 635. Fortunately, I only had one.  Within a couple of hours I was having difficulty breathing because of angiodema - swollen lips, tongue and throat.  Hospitalisation and steroids with antihistamines reduced the swelling, but several weeks later I am still having problems.  I have never had an allergy problem, despite being very adventurous with food.

"In addition to the veggieburger, I used some soy sauce on it and that contained 635, and had eaten some savoury biscuits earlier in the day that also contained 635. Presumably that was enough to push past the danger level.

"It is madness that we are allowing these contaminants into our food willy nilly.  The photo was taken after several hours of treatment with hydrocortisone and antihistamine."

Since this additive was approved by the national food regulator FSANZ (Food Standards Australia New Zealand) in the mid 1990's, there have been hundreds of reports of serious side-effects, mostly severe itchy rashes that have caused hospitalisation and years of suffering.

Unfortunately, many health professionals are unaware of the role of food additives in causing these problems.

These reports have been collected by the voluntary Food Intolerance Network and provided several times to FSANZ without response.

Sometimes there are reports of serious reactions as with Graeme.

Of particular concern is that often people then develop a range of allergies that they have never had before as a result of exposure to this flavour enhancer booster, which is found in many tasty and savoury products like crisps and chips. It is conceivable that the startling rise in allergies in Australia has been triggered in part by this booster.

Flavour enhancer 635 is a mixture of 627 and 631 and is called 'ribonucleotide' or more chemical names such as disodium guanylate and disodium inosinate. It is added to boost the effects of added or natural glutamates such as monosodium glutamate (MSG) by a factor of 10-15 times and appears to boost adverse reactions in the same proportion.

People who react to 635 regard it as the crystal meth of flavour enhancers. It needs to be banned or at the very least subjected to a rigorous scientific evaluation as the Food Standards Act requires.

Factsheet on 635 flavour enhancers

I just wondered if you had heard the news about Strattera, a medication prescribed for ADHD that has only been used here in Australia on about 2000 patients, 1400 of them children.  It turns out that the medication causes extreme mood swings and self-harming behaviours.
My son took it for six months and that's exactly what we saw in him.  He got so bad he said he wanted to kill himself and he was only 10 at that time!  His mood swings were so extreme I asked his psychiatrist about bipolar disorder!!!  We stopped the medication cold turkey without the support of his doctor and that's when desperation led us to the failsafe diet, purely by accident as I stumbled upon your website while searching for something, anything to help my son.
Fast forward a year and I'm sure I've emailed you before about the happy, well adjusted, stable, "normal" child he is now, moving on to high school next year which we never thought was possible and only last month receiving his black belt in karate.
Your diet literally saved his life and every day I say a quick prayer of thanks that we have found the failsafe way and completely changed the course of his life. He was on the verge of being sent to either a special school or a psychiatric ward and now, while he still has some slight autistic tendencies that we are teaching him to manage, he is going to lead a normal life and hopefully he will be able to do whatever he wants to do with his future.
Thanks again for all you do – Lu

I want you to know how much your books have helped me. As a young girl, I grew up like your daughter, struggling with the difficulties of ADHD and food intolerances, chronic fatigue and obesity just to name a few. But we didn't know what these things were back then.

My mother tried as much as she could, but it was difficult considering she was dealing with her own inner demons (psychological & physiological), she had suffered mental illness from terrible childhood experiences and many health problems which she had always thought were food related.

Her way of dealing with me was at times very harsh - but then again she was out of control half the time. She didn't know why I behaved the way I did and she didn't know what to do, and I didn't realize I had a problem, I was just VERY energetic.

My mother went through similar searches as you - taking me to countless doctors, specialists, naturopaths etc from a young age up till when I was 16, trying to find an answer, but to no avail. She didn't have the state of mind or social support to help her to help me. My parents just accepted the way I was - our whole family was suffering in similar personal ways.

I passed many years in a complete blur, some days I felt as if my mind couldn't function, my body was so sick I couldn't function as a normal human being. Other days, I felt alive again and able to think again. This lasted through all my high school years.

From the age of 16-22 I suffered from Bulimia & Bipolar (formerly known as manic depression) and this is the period during which the food intolerances affected me the worst. My IBS couldn't be explained or treated by GPs and when I had sinus problems I went through 3 courses of antibiotics before I realised they weren't helping.

One day mum drove me to the library, I was too sick to go to work (sinus, fatigue, migraines). I accidentally picked up one of your books at the library. It was literally one of the worst (healthwise) days of my life, yet one of the best days. Sitting in that library reading your book (even through the haze and numbness that my mind had become), I started crying. It was everything I had ever experienced, what my whole family had experienced and it was right there in front of my eyes, in black and white. I was overwhelmed with joy (through tears) that some greater force had led me to your book, which started a ripple effect of changes that I am still experiencing to this day.

I started the elimination diet the next day. Within 3 days the sinus problem completely disappeared - I had had a runny nose, and headache for 7 weeks prior to that! It was clear proof to myself and my mum that something pretty big was happening when I ate certain foods.

A few months after I did a complete turnaround in my diet I decided I wanted more out of my life and through the strength and clarity that I was starting to experience in my mind and body, I decided to apply for uni. I am now more than half way through my first year of uni and I LOVE IT! And it wouldn't have been possible, without your help.

I have grown so much as a person in the last year, most people wouldn't recognise me. I have found a love of life and enjoy looking after my mind and body. Thank you so much for all the hard work, investigation and love it took for you to put together the food intolerance network, its publications and for sharing that knowledge with the world.  - by email

(Sue's comment: see other stories about

Bulimia  [1116]

Eating disorders (binges and starving)  [963]

Bipolar/manic depression  [1227]   [1291]

We would be interested to hear more stories from failsafers about the effect of diet on these symptoms - This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.)

I saw one of your excellent dietitians for myself, then realised her office was placed with providers for children with ASD. I didn’t choose her because of my / my child’s ASD, but because of my being ill for many years. The dietitian proved very calm, had a good understanding of ASD, was easygoing as well as knowledgeable and assertive.

With regards to the diet, I can’t commend everyone highly enough for all their work. From the information provided on the Fedup website to the Facebook Failsafe group – everyone is helping out to improve knowledge in this area.

Through this diet, my ASD child, appears more and more balanced. Our highly qualified psychologist took one look at my child in the waiting room at her last appointment (a month into the diet) and said “This is a completely different child. What on earth have you been doing to achieve this?” (The achievement being a calm, responsive and fearless child.)

I “failed” (made a mistake) with the diet whilst travelling and gave my child McDonald fries and it hurt me to see her in such emotional turmoil as a result of the food. Within half an hour of the fries, my child completely reverted to her old OCD mannerisms and state of confusion. She forced me to line up behind her at a flight of stairs, and demanded I march up and down them, following her commands. She screamed at me when I wouldn’t conform or march correctly. She even screamed at my brother for “smiling at her”. Through Failsafe, I can control her behaviour and emotions (and mine) and seeing her happier, more balanced and less frustrated is nothing short of a miracle.

Also, her night terrors, which used to be horrific and last over 30 minutes of her guttural screaming and trying to hurt me and ending in vomiting all over me, haven’t happened since the diet was started. She still has little nightmares and tosses and turns a bit but that’s not the same as safely putting her on the floor and crying seeing her so distressed and unable to be comforted.

My ASD child will never be “neurotypical” and I shouldn’t try to make her “like others” who don’t have autism. In fact, now the OCD, ODD and anger has lessened with the diet, I’m actually proud she’s autistic as she’s super funny, quirky and clever – never a dull moment. What I was trying to say was she doesn’t stand out as ASD as there are less full blown meltdowns that make us the centre of attention in public spaces. She’s gone over a month without scratching me intentionally in the face, whereas it used to occur every second day. If it does occur, it’s when she’s had one of the nasty numbers or amines.

For me, I have spent 10 plus years in and out of doctors, holistic practitioners, and have undergone over a thousand dollars’ worth of testing and examinations. Until Failsafe, I have had a permanent headache, brain fog, sinus problems, dizziness and angry outbursts (from amines). Through Failsafe, my headache / food hangover that took place EVERY DAY…all gone within a month. Truly life changing. I can now run again (my passion) and do yoga without procrastinating for fear of my bones aching, making it impossible to remain still and be present. I have lost 7 kgs and am the lightest I have been since I was in my 20s, BUT I am eating well and healthily. Being able to exercise, and not feel so sick has meant my depression is not as severe and I am able to focus on what’s going on around me rather than sit in my own food induced pain and anger. I am also diagnosed autistic and the wrong foods cause my shutdowns and meltdowns to worsen, so it’s not always a social emotional reaction, but a reaction to food that has me feeling so unwell and foggy that I have to shut the door to the outside world. Instead, thanks to Failsafe, it is really nice to feel more connected through all my senses. Lights aren’t so bright, sound is not so loud, and my partner can touch me on the arm more without me jumping a mile.

With salicylate reduction – I can empty my bladder!!! I used to get up at least six times a night (and that’s not counting the six times I would go before falling sleep). I woke two hourly because of the nerve ending feeling of not being able to empty completely. When I went low sals, I woke once a night. And my restless legs (which I didn’t realise I had…until this diet) reduced dramatically. Sleeping is SO MUCH BETTER. I actually didn’t realise it could be normal to sleep five hours’ straight. For most of my life I’ve woken two hourly and it has been completely broken. Same goes for my ASD child. Now we wake once a night.

Failsafe saved my life – Anonymous, Qld.

Love the FB page & the huge effort & kindness that goes into it! The diet has changed our family - Virginia

As you have both heard a million billion times - what a life changer for my two little boys and both of us! - anonymous

I can't get enough of the user stories you continually post year after year, everyone is so different yet have so many similarities every little comment and piece of feedback helps! THANK YOU!! - Jess

I absolutely love Failsafe! It has helped my 8 year old son since he was 2 - Angie

I recently meet Sue in Jindera and discussed my 21 month old twin girl who has been on the failsafe diet after a very inflamed, welt like and bleeding eczema broke out literally overnight covering her entire body. She was a typical 5&2 reversal child who loved and lived on blueberries and anything fruit. After three months on the diet she is almost completely free from eczema!!! - Eleanor

Sue's comment: 5&2 reversal means not eating 5 serves of vegies and 2 serves of fruit as recommended by dietitians but eating 5 serves of fruit and only 2 serves of vegies. The salicylate load is far higher with a 5&2 reversal diet.

So here's proof that kids react to foods. We have had an awesome first week on failsafe. My son has been telling me about his day at school, helping his sister with homework and being well behaved.

After an oversight on my part, partly because I was tired and my husband is away for work, my kids were allowed to have chicken and chips from a local takeaway. The result, a complete meltdown. Crying, rolling on the floor, throwing the school uniform in the bin etc. And he's 13! I am absolutely convinced that failsafe works! - Fiona from facebook

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  2. [1408] Off the scale bad behaviour due to medication (September 2016)
  3. [1407] For the first time in 41 years I was asthma free and the healthiest I have ever been in my life (September 2016)
  4. [1406] 160b: Heart arrhythmia with fibrillation (August 2016)
  5. [1405] 200, 282: "bladder leak/incontinence, bladder pain, diarrhoea, slowed speech.." (August 2016)
  6. [1404] Rosemaree’s story: “best way to lose weight is to not try …” (August 2016)
  7. [1403] “Chronic asthmatic who no longer needed any medication” (August 2016)
  8. [1402] Salicylates: "you would have said they were drunk or on drugs" (August 2016)
  9. [1401] Diet gives medication-free relief from headaches, fatigue, back and joint pain (July 2016)
  10. [1400] Two sisters joint pain (July 2016)
  11. [1399] Another account of food intolerance apparently triggered by medication use (July 2016)
  12. [1398] Severe itchy rashes: "salicylates and glutamates are a problem" (July 2016)
  13. [1397] 160b: Another frightening reaction to ‘natural food colour’ annatto (June 2016) COURAGE AWARD
  14. [1396] Salicylate challenge: rough skin, headache, shortness/acid persona, buzzing/whooshing in ears (June 2016)
  15. [1395] Depression: an update on what I'm calling "the diet that saved my life" (June 2016) COURAGE AWARD
  16. [1394] “extreme calm with small doses of the other behaviour” (June 2016)
  17. [1393] One-liners (June 2016)
  18. [1392] “my energy, vivacity and joy for life” (June 2016)
  19. [1391]The lighter side: please, no more fruit (June 2016)
  20. [1390] One-liners offering hope (March 2016)
  21. [1389] “When you see the difference it makes you know that it's worth it” (March 2016)
  22. [1388] 160b: True allergy to annatto yellow food colouring (March 2016)
  23. [1386] Life-threatening reaction to anti-inflammatory drugs plus blackberries: "A&E seemed totally unaware of the salicylate link" (March 2016)
  24. [1387] “Doing the strict elimination diet helped my asthma and my occasional hives/itchiness enormously” (March 2016)
  25. [1385] Cocamides have been the scourge of my life! (March 2016)