Our eldest started boarding school this year and it has been both awful and wonderful. Tina is affected behaviourally by foods. Have you read the 'Animorphs' series of books for kids? Well there is a little creature called a 'yerk' that takes over people’s brains and that is how Tina describes it when she is not failsafe. It is scary for her.

Boarding school has been hell and she has been miserable, but by term 3 the staff started to take us seriously that the behaviour, social and academic problems would virtually go away if we could remove problem foods from her diet. The school counsellor is very supportive and suggested I cook cakes and biscuits to be kept in the freezer in the kitchen for her to pack her own morning teas and snacks. They are buying additive free bread for her and keeping vanilla yoghurt. When they have a roast they freeze slices of meat (not pork) for her lunches. One day they ran out and boiled eggs up just for her. She just leaves the main queue and goes to a different door and they help her. They have also purchased pats of pure butter instead of margarine. Her diet is not pure failsafe but it's heaps better and now she is so much happier. If boarding school doesn’t work out this year, she can do Distance Education next year. – by email, Qld [contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. for the name of the boarding school].

My two and a half year old daughter has had severe eczema and cradle cap since she was a few months old, I never made the connection between the eczema and food allergy because she wasn’t even on solids when we first noticed the eczema. She was fully breastfed and I am embarrassed to admit that it didn’t occur to me that what I ate may be causing the rash! I had her to the doctor plenty of times over her first two years and came away with all sorts of creams and lotions, but nothing that worked. (Mind you the doctor never once suggested food allergy either!)

Anyway six months ago she had an allergic reaction to peanut butter, we took her to an allergist who performed skin prick tests and not only is she anaphylactic to peanuts but also allergic to egg and tomato. We eliminated all nuts and egg and tomato from her diet and whilst she improved and her cradle cap went, her skin still didn’t clear up. She still scratched a lot (mostly at night), got allergic shiners under her eyes, and always seemed to have a slight cough and a clear runny nose.

I recently got hold of Fed Up with the idea of doing the elimination diet then slowly introducing things back in to see what else may be causing her eczema. I am pleased to tell you that the eczema is now completely cleared up along with all the other symptoms simply due to avoiding all preservatives.

Before going fully failsafe we eliminated all those nasties from our diets and what a difference it has made! I just want to say thank you for what you do and for making it so much easier for parents like me, who 18 months ago had no idea what 160b or 282 were and thought I was giving my children healthy food with their yoghurt and cheese spread etc. I almost look at my daughter’s anaphylactic allergy to peanuts a blessing in disguise, because if not for that I never would have investigated food allergies and would still be obliviously feeding my family all sorts of nasty things.

I let my 7 year old eat as many dried apricots as he wanted for the sulphites challenge because he’s definitely not salicylate sensitive - he ate 10 (little) whole apricots yesterday and said it was a bit hard to breathe even thought he has no known asthma problem.

Last night my son had 3 night terrors close together, where he screams and his legs cramp and he twitches.  I phoned his day care as he spoke about eating glue.  I found out it was a thing the school calls 'gloop' to tailor fine motor skills.  It is made with flour, water and (yesterday) green food colouring.

I am another recent convert - my almost 5 year old was always difficult in terms of behaviour and the term oppositional defiance describes her well - when we cut out preservatives after seeing you on TV last year she improved heaps (no more threats of violence).  Since then I have borrowed one of your books and now we don't touch flavours, colours or preservatives, WOW what a difference - I will most likely do the elimination diet in the near future to pinpoint other possible issues like salicylates etc.

Positive symptoms I've noticed since we started our elimination diet include that we all seem to eat less ... and less frequently. The children seem to be more or less satisfied with 3 meals and the odd snack. We’ve also gone from three wet beds a night to none most days so I figure the extra time I spend in preparing food is time I don't any longer spend in the laundry - a very fair trade!

Thanks for your time, Sue. I really appreciate the hours you have put into this to make it so much easier for people like me. I've seen such a huge improvement in my (I suspect ADHD) son. It's lovely to see him a happy, coping little boy. You and yours have been a great blessing to our family.

I noticed a dog food advertisement on TV recently stating "no added flavours or colours" for the health of your dog - if they do it for DOGS why not people??

Our 6 year old son’s urticaria and rhinitis have improved dramatically by avoiding cats and dustmites (for allergies) and additives annatto 160b and flavour enhancers 621-635. He is now starting to feel better, sleeping better and behaving better (previously we were told it was ADHD but I have my doubts now).

It is great to see that food intolerance and other chemical sensitivities are now getting recognition - I have spent a lot of time and energy explaining to people why I can't eat certain foods or why certain smells (paint, new carpet, nail polish) cause nausea and sometimes cause an asthmatic reaction.

Our dietician has already cleared one thing up for me - why I often find my throat closing up when eating peppermints. I had no idea that it would be a salicylate issue.

An added benefit of this plainer diet is that their tastebuds have become accustomed and now they actually eat vegies etc more than they ever used to because they don't taste so bad compared to everything else (previously highly salted and flavoured) on their plates. Since failing her amine challenge three months ago my six year old daughter has had no more amines, and no more snotty or blocked nose, nasal sprays, nightmares, sore tummy, teeth grinding, sore legs or nail biting - and her nails are growing for the first time in her life.

Your DVD opened the eyes of my family and my son's school teachers! It's really well put together, and my son was excited to be able to take a DVD to school to show his class all about his food!  - Karena, Tas.

Without your information about diet, my family would have been torn apart, purely because of the behaviour of our five year old son. He is now a pleasant person to have around - most of the time. My husband and I are also much calmer and handle our children in a far nicer way than we did previously.

I look forward to your newsletter - keep up the good work and there are more and more of us sounding the warning bell.

Food additives are a big issue with consumers and getting bigger all the time. – excerpt from an email from a failsafer to a food manufacturer – thanks to Helen.

Previous to the diet, on the recommendation of our pediatrician we tried fish oil capsules for 4 weeks with good results for concentration. We stopped using the fish oil supplement when we started the diet as we wanted a clear reading of what it would do. (We were very much non believers at this stage). The difference on the diet was amazing and we did the diet very successfully for over three months. We were into our second challenge when I reintroduced the fish oil thinking nothing of it as it was recommended along with diet by the pediatrician. We never got back to where we started even after four weeks of strict diet. We came off it thinking it was possibly a one off and his body had adjusted to the diet. We have paid heavily for it, forgetting what life was like before the diet. My son is unhappy and we even began Ritalin trials feeling that we had exhausted all avenues. Then a friend who is also a failsafer was told by a doctor at the RPA Allergy Clinic that there is a problem with fish oil and I just wanted to warn others who may fall into the same trap. We have begun the diet again today and my son is happy to go back on it even though he knows it means no McDonald parties and fruit and pizza which are his favourites. Thank you for giving us another option, and this fabulous website which makes the daunting task much easier.

When my daughter was two I noticed that her eczema seemed to flare up after I had given her spaghetti one day or two before.  I asked my dietitian if it could be tomatoes and she said "yes - it can be salicyates".  So I stopped giving her spaghetti and tomatoes thinking this would solve the problem however she still had eczema so I just treated it.  When she turned three years old she started getting asthma, about every month and when she had a virus or a cold. My daughter always only drank water or milk but at her Kindy Christmas Party we had to give her some cordial to drink because there wasn't anything else and that night she had asthma. The same thing happened a month later after she had a raspberry fruit drink. My doctor just told me how to treat the asthma so I went to my dietitian. She prescribed vitamin supplements and took my daughter off dairy which reduced the frequency and severity of the asthma but made the eczema worse. It  took a couple of months for me to realize that I was mixing the vitamin powder in orange juice, then the dietitian gave me a list of all the foods that contained salicylates so I could avoid them. A few weeks after we started avoiding salicylates, my daughter's skin started clearing up. So you can see the pattern with the tomatoes, fruit juice and orange cordial with real fruit juice – reader by email.

My daughter developed eczema when she was being introduced to solid foods at about 6 months but I didn't take her to the doctor for another year and then we managed it with eczema cream until we went travelling when she was two. The eczema got much worse while we were travelling and eventually we tried the elimination diet. We went gluten free right from the start and at first she got much worse. It took us months to work out that she was sensitive to many food chemicals but especially sulphites, which were in gluten free flours and also in the bore water on our property. I was also using a herbal cream that was making her eczema worse. She is very sensitive and reacts to Sorbolene, and smells like Estapol.

"I have a 3 year old son who was diagnosed with eczema around the 12 month mark. He started having rashes when he was put on solids but nothing too serious. Last year we took him to a skin specialist who told us his condition was very mild and prescribed cortisone (Elocon). When we asked for allergy testing, she told me it was not caused by foods. Fourteen months and a few tubes of Elocon later, his condition was very bad. He would scratch himself in his sleep to the point of bloodstains on the sheets and had problems staying asleep. His skin was permanently scarred and bloody because of scratching the same spots so they never had a chance to heal. I was in despair and did not know what to do especially as I took him to my GP and he again refused to do anything other than prescribe Elocon."

Eventually this mother decided to try diet for herself and contacted the Food Intolerance Network through our website. Through cutting down on additives she found that preservatives were the main culprit and wrote:

"Since we took him off additives and preserved foods (eg lollies, juice, sausages), his skin has improved very well. He stopped scratching and started to sleep through the night. Then on Saturday he had half a sausage and bam, itching and redness started within 30 minutes. Luckily it only lasted a few hours and again yesterday we went to a party and against my better judgment I let him have orange juice and soft drink and same thing happened.

“Because I now know exactly what he eats, it is easy to pinpoint the cause.  I am disappointed with our medical practitioners, the so called specialists, especially the one who saw my son last year and put him on steroids. I have become an avid label reader and when I explained to my 3 year old why he cannot have all the stuff he normally loves, he surprised me with how well he is coping."

I knew I had food intolerances to the Nightshade family of foods so I had been avoiding them and my symptoms were much improved but even when I was sure I hadn't eaten any of them I would occasionally get severe sudden reactions: severe irritable bowel symptoms, a slight but very itchy rash and a severe feeling of nausea.

From looking at the responses on your website and finding a lady who said 635 in soups was the problem for her I went and checked the packaging of what I was eating and I realised flavour enhancer 635 was the common link for me. At the times I had sudden reactions I had been eating foods like Continental cuppa soups, packaged noodles, and beef stock, which all had 635 in them. Thanks for helping me find and kick this unhelpful additive out of my diet – Selina by email.

I was lucky enough to come and see you talk recently. Our son is nearly 8 years old and I reckon for 7 of those years he has been very hard to handle, episodes involving throwing things at me, chasing me, yelling, getting so upset he would go blue and lose his breath. We have taken him off a lot of foods you recommend not to give your children, and his behaviour improved, episodes consisted of whingeing or crying for 10 minutes instead of hours. Since seeing your talk, we have cut out a lot more foods, and I have stopped using my beloved Red Door perfume, within a week we have seen an amazingly different child, he now sits with us, not hyperactive, yes mum, no mum. I said to my husband I am overwhelmed as for the past 7 years I have known a naughtier child. We both want to thank you so much for giving us our darling little man to us. We have the opportunity to give him a better way of feeling and acting, it is all to you, although I miss my perfume, I have now given it to my mum and my husband and I are enjoying some special days with our child. We now only feed him fresh foods - no processed foods, home made cooking for school lunches. Thank you so very much - parent, Victoria.

Thanks so much! I'm buying DVDs  for all my family members because Sue's book "Fed Up" has turned my family completely around. We have in the past month made every effort to remove additives and preservatives from our diet and the results have been astounding. My 13 year old son has been angry and depressed for most of his life, to the point that we have had him at a psychologist but within two weeks of altering his diet he has become happy and affectionate, constantly telling me he loves me and that he no longer has a foggy head! We are yet to do the elimination diet (I'm waiting for my husband to finish the book) but have already noted that salicylates do seem to be a problem for some of us. The difference has been so enormous that at least three of my friends have gone out and bought Fed Up having seen our improvements. I think I have also singlehandedly cut the sales of Tim Tams in our area quite dramatically since we found out via Sue that the beautiful chocolate colour is not from chocolate! In addition, I've noticed a couple of unexpected benefits: firstly, our taste buds seem to have improved (for example, I have never been able to stomach the richness of lamb before but suddenly can) and secondly, by going back to basics with the cooking we seem to be developing a much closer bond as a family... I'm not sure I can explain it, but it's something to do with putting love and care into everything we cook. A sort of return to old values, I suppose. – reader, Sydney.

Before going on the diet, I used to get panic attacks at night, where I would be absolutely convinced that there was a gunman just outside my window. When I finally did go on the diet, it was for the sake of my children, not myself, so I thought it was okay at week three to eat an enormous amount of chocolate - I believe it was one Hershey bar, and a massive Cadbury dairy milk block. The next day, I was so paranoid that I convinced myself that my husband was having an affair, and went to the extent of driving to his work to watch him through the window, then following him home on his bike. When he arrived home, I dashed outside and hid in the darkened garden, crying. After about four hours the paranoia episode just finished like that, and I had to explain myself to a perplexed husband - reader, NSW

Ever since my son - now aged 10 - was a baby he would get a persistent dry cough that would continue relentlessly throughout the day and all through the night of only the winter months every year - at least 6 months every year without fail. The doctors would all say that they couldn't hear wheezing, so stopped short of diagnosing asthma no matter how sick he was. Finally a new local doctor a few years ago suggested asthma and asked me to try a blue puffer with ventolin. It fixed him immediately after 5 months of relentless coughing! He is an extremely active, sporty child, who plays and trains hard every season, but never got the asthma in the summer months.

Ventolin continued to control it, although he was worse after soccer training and games - in recent years accompanied by acute chest pains during games - and often had to come off. Last year, he participated in a school cross country held in May and got into the next level (extremely hilly) in June. After the race he could not stop coughing, had difficulty breathing and was very ill, missing school for some time after, which was when we started to make the exercise connection. We then started to observe and realised the trigger was exercise. Once winter was over he was well again, right up until March this year.

The beginning of March coincided with my reading your books - for other problems, I had forgotten about the asthma as it was controlled with ventolin and seasonal - and the gradual reduction in non failsafe foods in our house in the lead up to going failsafe. During this time he participated in the soccer training and school cross country practices and came first twice - no coughing, no problems. About 90 per cent failsafe, he went to a two day school camp this year – we don’t know what he ate. The next day (Saturday) at soccer he had severe chest pains throughout the game.

After the game his father bought him a sausage sandwich. He started coughing sometime that afternoon and continued for several days. On the Monday and Tuesday at school he came last in the cross country practices on both days, and came home extremely ill on the Tuesday, still coughing continuously. He stayed at home on the Wednesday with ventolin and the vaporizer and gradually recovered.

He was still coughing a little but much better the following Sunday, when we were unavoidably delayed whilst out. The kids were starving at lunchtime and begging for hot chips. At this point I was not aware of the food-asthma connection nor of the sulphites in hot chips. Later that afternoon he quickly began to get much worse again and needed the puffer and vaporiser again on the Sunday and Monday night. By the Tuesday night he didn't need the puffer or vaporiser anymore and went to soccer training on the Wednesday night without coughing or chest pains. He has eaten 100 per cent failsafe since then (4 weeks later) with absolutely no sign of the asthma cough despite plenty of exercise and sport. He actually won his school cross country - no reactions at all afterwards or during, whilst plenty of kids were, in his words, "dropping like flies with asthma attacks all around him" - some quite seriously so! Of course, as usual, the school had a sausage sizzle going all that day to raise money - bizarre isn't it?

I wrote a record of this for myself to help me work out cause and effect, as I gradually started to realise the connection after I had gone over everything else they had eaten during that time - which was all failsafe. The camp food, sausage and hot chips were the only things not failsafe, and his coughing reactions began within a couple of hours of consumption. I am extremely grateful to you and your books for having made him almost failsafe at the time, to enable me to so clearly observe cause and effect with the food and the exercise – reader, NSW.

Some years ago now, I remember reading  a message from a failsafer who’d had a gastroscopy before he went failsafe, which showed scarring and evidence of reflux, and he was put on strong antacids and told he might eventually need an operation (presumably to repair the gastric sphincter).

Exactly the same happened to me. I get the neurological symptoms (depression, paranoia, neurosis, ADD, and visual discomfort dyslexia - which improves but hasn't been resolved), but I also had years of gastric symptoms and had had two gastroscopies before I discovered failsafe eating. The first one showed no ulcer but that the lining was inflamed. After the second I had exactly the same diagnosis as in the story above. I remember the gastroenterologist telling me that although the symptoms weren't typical, the problem was definitely reflux, and suggesting the operation.

After I had been on the diet for some years, I had another gastroscopy to investigate the possibility of coeliac sprue. This wasn't found (thank heavens) but it did demonstrate that the scarring and inflamMation that had previously been there was now gone. The diet had resolved about 10 years of painful gastric symptoms for me.

I'm just wondering whether there might be other adults or children who have had the same experience. As people are so keen on physical evidence, maybe someone could pool the results and put out a paper? - reader, NSW  We would love to hear from any others with similar stories: please write to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Since we are going on the diet next week, we let our son have some things that we haven't allowed for a long time including bacon, tomatoes, ham and a doughnut. This morning I had a raging child, who was refusing to go into his classroom and throwing punches at me. Since we have cut a lot of nasties out of his diet he has not been violent at all until this morning!  The only good thing to come of this is now we are absolutely convinced it's his diet that's causing the grief. – reader, NT

My eldest son suffers terribly from eczema and while we have dabbled in diets in the past they were too difficult and the people who gave them to us seemed to be peddling their own vitamins and supplements! My son’s allergist recently suggested a diet along with the RPA and your books. Boy oh boy even after three days we could see the difference.  He has now been on the diet for four weeks and as his eczema is so much better as well as his general skin condition. – reader, NSW

My wife is acutely allergic to the orange colour tartrazine (102). The first incident was with "fresh" orange juice. There were no labelling requirements at this time, and the orange juice itself was thought to be the cause.

The second incident was when she was prescribed antihistamines, coloured orange, for a bout of hay fever. She went into anaphylactic shock. Later the doctors at the hospital remarked how interesting it was that the tablet that was keeping her alive was also trying to kill her. It was at this point that 102 was identified as the culprit.

Since then we have attempted to avoid 102 whenever possible but we have been caught several times by undisclosed use of the product. We find local food providers are generally co-operative when they understand the consequences. However, corporations do not care …recently I noted that Marathon was again adding 102 to its products.

As I understand it the pharmaceutical companies are not required to label their products …a recipe for disaster. We have to open the coloured capsules so that the foul tasting contents can be taken with water - reader, Qld

My son 14 is a state ward and has been for 18 months. His behaviour at home was violent, aggressive and surly to such an extent that my safety was threatened. He had damaged property, harmed pets, broken my bones ... He was 12 when he went into care and this behaviour had gone on since the age of 7. He tried to kill himself a number of times, initially playing chicken with cars, starving himself, much self harm behaviour and nearly succeeded last year when he cut an artery in his leg.

I tried to get help for years only to be told that I was a bad mother. I was accused of abusing my son so many times it wasn't funny, even dragged before courts for it. They didn't get it. I was the one with the bruises and broken bones not the kid.  He was never diagnosed with any disorder. All behaviour was put down to an incident when he was 6 and a teen tried to molest him. I had seen him lose touch with reality and even respond to voices - at 8 years old. School suspensions started in grade 2. His school had a sign that other children would file out of the classroom on a pre-determined signal ... I could go on and on.

He became a state ward after a particularly bad incident where I ended up with concussion but to get him off me I had to bite him ... therefore proving what a violent mother I am.

I got your book Fed Up from the library and read it over the weekend. What a revelation to me.

He has just been diagnosed as a possible coeliac. He has always had some intolerances and his sister had GI probs and lactose intolerance too. Both have not done well away from what they ate at home, which on reflection was low gluten and low additives.

Well, at the moment the lad is keen to clean up the diet, at least the gluten part, but I think it is too late to mend our relationship.

I should have done more research and figured out the food connection earlier. I did make food connections, from when he was very young. He was lactose intolerant, had trouble with other foods. He was also a bedwetter until nearly 10. He always had gut problems. We noticed if he had certain foods he would be worse, even his family day care parents learnt the hard way about the foods. His doctors knew this, the psychologists knew this but NOBODY made the connection. Even now the only reason he got checked out was I pushed and after a few incidents in the unit I raised Duty of Care.

Anyway at least I have hope now. Hope that he won't end up in the justice or mental health system. Hope that he can get back to a normal school. Hope that maybe one day he can come home to visit. This system he has ended up in is not used to bright kids and he is in a school for not so bright ones. Meanwhile he has learnt heaps of bad behaviour from others ...

I can see that failsafe foods have been your work for years and indeed you work very hard to get the word out. What I can't understand is why more people don't suspect food problems in behaviours with kids. How many more families have to go through what we have been through?

So Sue if any of our story helps other families or professionals please go ahead and use it. You don't have children for other people to raise. I should count myself fortunate I still get a say as I am still a guardian but it is difficult and if the connections had been made when I first suspected them none of this need have happened - reader, Vic.

•     Antioxidant 320 [BHA in oils, margarines and most commercial products containing oils] gives me a terribly flushed red face as well as extreme fatigue and irritability - by email.

•     Your DVD is great, it convinced my husband that doing the diet properly is the only way to go … before that he thought we could do just bits of it – by email.

•     After reading your book I realize that salicylates might be the reason my teenage daughter has had terrible bowel problems for the last few years because she had bad eczema as a kid, got a mighty dose of tinea when she overdosed on grapes last year, and our diet for the past few years has been VERY high in all the very high salicylate foods such as dried fruit (muesli), dates, tomatoes, eggplant, rocket, onions, almonds, avocados, grapes, broccoli - by email.

•     About five years ago when I was working as a childrens' worker in Victoria I contacted you - by phone in those days - on quite a few occasions prior to and while I was working with young children with behavioural problems. In every case the "Fed Up" regime worked and I was convinced of its success, since then I have recommended to lots of parents that they look very seriously at this program for their child – by email

•     We have our son on a lot of the readers’ recipes and have noticed a huge improvement in his demeanor – by email.

•     I love your jam packed website and count myself exceptionally lucky that I stumbled upon it accidentally the other day - I am so impressed with how everything is so well researched and is truly scientific - by email.

•     The boys were watching some of the DVD with me, with Ashley singing my food’s on the telly, my food’s on the telly, it’s the best in the world, the best in the world when you were showing the failsafe foods. It’s fantastic, you should be very proud. Well done to you and everyone else involved. – Jenny, Melbourne VIC.

•     I'll be lending my DVD to lots of people, so I think its a great way of spreading information! – Susie, Sydney NSW.

•     I have just watched the new DVD and I have to say - it was a tremendous job that was well done. The personal comments from parents who have been there are worth listening to. The DVD has enormous integrity as it involves both scientific research and experience. Sue's explanations are very clear and straight to the heart of the matter. I just loved her "nasty food" scenes. This DVD is well worth going to all schools - Cheryl, teacher Coffs Harbour NSW.

•     The benefits we have derived from your hard work are worth far more than the cost of a video!!!! – Mother, Newcastle NSW.

Our family has been largely failsafe for the past couple of years due to our daughter’s behaviour, but an added side benefit seems to have emerged. My husband has a rare disorder called Hereditary Hemorrhagic Telangiectasia (HHT) which causes his capillaries to balloon and bleed easily. His blood count is always very low and like all HHT sufferers, nosebleeds have always been part of his life. He has had far fewer nosebleeds since he's avoided salicylates and that's the only change that he's made. I wonder if it could be that the lack of salicylates decrease the bleeding? He can't ever take aspirin, so I suppose it makes sense, but if my suspicions are correct, then other HHT sufferers might benefit as well. I would think that it's worth investigating and I will certainly share it with anyone who is interested or concerned. – Chris,
NSW(This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.) [and see our new Factsheet HHT and salicylates]

I just wanted to tell you about the effects of aspartame on my insulin dependant father in-law. He has drunk at least a can of diet soft drink every day for the last 10 yrs since becoming diabetic, thinking he was doing the right thing. But about 12 months ago he started having regular blackouts every few months or so. He is 6ft 5in and a very big man so when he falls there is a lot of room for damage of some description. The last blackout on his veranda whilst sitting on a chair putting on his boots resulted in a badly dislocated shoulder with permanent damage. He no longer drinks diet drinks after I researched and found some absolutely shocking information linking aspartame to blackouts and has not had a blackout in over 12 months. Aspartame is definitely not recommended for diabetics and no-one should ingest this poison. The alarming thing is I have recently found it in salad dressing and things kids would eat. It’s also in most low fat products. - Simonne, by email  [and see our new Factsheet: sugarfree sweeteners]

I have been unwell for a few years with many mysterious and varied complaints. I experienced a bout of Optic Neuritis in March 2004. I was hospitalised with a possible MS diagnosis. It's a long story but I was researching a link between my maladies and a toxin as a possible cause of my health complaints when I came across aspartame and its numerous effects on health. My problems I believe can be related to the vast quantities of Diet Coke I was drinking, 1.25 litres every second day and I was addicted to this stuff. Diet coke was my preferred drink. I also had lots of sugarfree chewing gum, pocket breath strips, diet foods etc. Coke and Wrigley say its safe because FSANZ say it is. I deleted aspartame from my diet in Sept 2004 and my symptoms have gone or abated at the least. I was put on a nasty anti-depressant as well back in March so life was a struggle. I have avoided all aspartame since Sept 2004 and got off the anti-depressant in Nov 2004 and am slowly feeling like my old self. I know aspartame did terrible things to me and I hope I have not suffered permanent damage. I fear for our kids. - Andrea, by email

My 6 ½ year old son, Tim (not his real name) is currently undergoing investigation of mixed depressive disorder with anxiety and obsessive ruminations. We have used failsafe in the past with one of our other children, but had not ever thought of foods being linked to Tim's mood problems. When you mention a "gifted and depressed" child at your recent talk my ears immediately pricked up and took note. Tim has been identified as highly gifted and everyone has been saying that is the cause of his problems but I have always felt there was something else underlying that was contributing. We will be contacting our GP today and hopefully starting the elimination diet as soon as possible.

2 weeks later...

Just wanted to let you know, we are all amazed at our son's improvement over the last two weeks. I have been in contact with the dietitian you recommended, she is lovely and very supportive. We will be starting the "proper" 3 week elimination diet on the weekend after the school camp (couldn't manage that one!) But I wanted to tell you also that even my GP has taken to your book for herself and her family. She is raving about it!

2 months later ...

Since starting the elimination diet Tim has not self harmed once! He is much calmer and has noticed this in himself. He no longer seems to be as restless and has been falling asleep easily at a reasonable time in the evenings. We started with the salicylate challenge this week and there seemed to be no reaction, until day 5/6 when we started to notice his behaviour was getting worse. We will stop this challenge tonight and wait to try some other groups. His GP and Clinical Psychologist are both thrilled with the change as well! ...

One week later ....

After I emailed you we finally had the BIG reaction we were looking for. It happened on Day 7 of the salicylate challenge - we had already stopped the challenge that morning. Tim went to bed as normal then began to write swear words all over his bed, his sheets and his body. ("I was angry with you because I couldn't fall asleep") This is the behaviour and obsessive ruminations this poor boy was experiencing on a daily basis before the elimination diet, which we have not seen until this challenge.

My son had been assessed by a speech therapist at the preschool. She diagnosed, as best she could - we couldn't really keep Jack in the room much less anything like on-task - a severe expressive language delay and a moderate receptive language delay. Six weeks, later when off wheat products, he was reassessed by the same speech pathologist, using the part of the test that Jack had not done due to being non-cooperative. This time he seemed to have no significant receptive language delay and was only mildly delayed in his expressive language. She said she had never seen a child change so dramatically within such a short period of time. … It took this family another year to discover that their child’s problem was not the wheat in bread, but the preservative calcium propionate. For the full story, see [036]

My 7 year old son has been failsafe for a couple of years now with great results.  My 5 year old daughter has quite a bad stutter and it has just dawned on me that diet may make it worse. I have often noticed that her speech is worse when my son’s behaviour is at its worst. Her speech therapist pointed out that it may be due to diet and that his hyperactivity is the symptom but her symptom is stuttering.  Given that they both generally eat the same thing this makes sense.  I tend to be more lax with her diet though.

My son becomes hyper and stutters as a result of reactions to salicylates, amines, wheat, dairy, preservatives, colours and flavours. His older sister also stutters when reacting but she is more tolerant of foods and other reactions are milder.

My daughter is allergic to mosquitoes and while we were doing the elimination diet she was badly bitten. Our doctor recommended daily double doses of claratyne liquid. On the second day my daughter started to talk incessantly and stutter a little (this had previously been a problem months ago). Then on day 3 at daycare she became drunkish, socially withdrawn and stopped talking (selective mutism, although not gone, had improved on failsafe). The staff at daycare had been amazed to say the least about her improvement on the diet, so this was obvious. When my husband came home, he picked up the bottle of antihistamine and read the label, to my dismay it contained sodium benzoate! Well, that went in the bin, we got claratyne tablets, she had a half, and the next day at daycare she was back to normal.

Sulphites (220-228) are used in a wide range of foods including dried fruit, fruit drinks, sausages (not in meat in the USA) and potato products such as hot chips and dried potato. We did the sulphite challenge with Deb mashed potato. My son was stuttering slightly before the challenge but by day 3 of eating ½ cup of Deb mashed potato per day, his stuttering was so bad that he would not talk at all. His stuttering continued for 4 months after the challenge stopped. Two years later he has had no sulphites and no speech difficulties.

Our two and a half year old son had difficulty with stuttering for a few months.  After my sister-in-law, a nurse, told us about the potential dangers of nitrates for children, especially contributions to developmental delays, we removed all nitrates from our son's diet and within about a week the stuttering was gone. Yesterday, our son went on an outing to the zoo with my mother. Strangely, his stuttering returned full-force today. I called my mother to ask what he had ingested for lunch
and dinner yesterday. The glaring answer:  a HOTDOG.

My 9 year old son started stuttering when he was around 4 years old. He seemed to be sensitive to preservatives especially 211 and I have steered clear of this preservative, but a few weeks ago his stuttering came back in full force, around the same time I had apple juice in the house. He is a big juice addict, and thinking back, has always had juice, either straight or diluted. I have always watched out for the preservatives in juice, and bread, but I now think he is intolerant to salicylates
as well. I have changed all of his foods to failsafe foods, and his speech is now good. He has calmed down a bit as well.

In 1997 at age 19, I developed an itchy, burning rash under my nose.  For the next six years, I went to doctors, naturopaths, homoeopaths, meditation and relaxation. Nothing worked and no-one could tell me why it was there and what it was.  In 2001 I gave up smoking and went through a lot in my life while living overseas and in 6 months went from 55kg to 72 kg.  I started getting bowel problems (flatulence, constipation, cramps and diarrhoea) and no matter what I tried I
could not lose the weight.

By the end of 2003 I had moved back to Australia and was on a wheat-free diet. My rash went away but I was still having bowel problems and irritability. Sometimes I would buckle over in so much pain I couldn’t walk, have terrible wind and then diarrhoea. I always needed to be near a toilet. That is when I went on the elimination diet and found that I was incredibly sensitive to sulphites and that the cramps and diarrhoea were from sulphites. The bad wind was caused by amines, and artificial antioxidants were a mixture of the two.  My rash is staying away too. I am also back down to 55kg after coming back to Australia, going off wheat but also enjoying the active Australian lifestyle.  I can now eat wheat as long as it has no preservatives - maybe it was never wheat that was the problem!

I am now only just on the other side of finishing the diet and am trying to come to terms with what I can and cannot eat. I have been trying no added preservative wine, which is a lot better, but I still sometimes have a bit of a reaction. I am very sad about Amines, I love chocolate and I can't eat much at all, same with cheese. I just know that it is not worth having sulphites because the reaction is too bad. My family have now begun to take out additives in their diets too after hearing from me just how bad they are. It gets confusing talking about natural food chemicals and chemicals to other people, but eventually they understand. – by email

Having four children who have all been milk and soy intolerant from birth, intolerant to artificial additives and sensitive to levels of salicylates and amines I've seen possibly every symptom food intolerance can produce raise its ugly head at some time or another. Unfortunately due to either being uneducated or narrow-minded, many mainstream medical practitioners including specialists just wouldn't go the food intolerance path so it took me several years to really get to the bottom of what was happening with my children.

The first symptoms that we came up against were reflux, eczema and a lot of skin rashes. My third child, Jessica, was extremely miserable and seemed to be in a lot of pain. She'd started refluxing from one week and was started on prescription medications. Luckily the paediatrician was able to identify a rash around her bottom as being associated with lactose intolerance so we went the road of trying various formulas until we got to nutramigen which settled her demeanour but did nothing to alleviate the reflux side of things, so we had unwittingly started down the right path. She also had a constant post nasal drip from very early on so we were shovelling her full of various antihistamine type medicines trying to alleviate that and she had eczema. My fourth child Zac knew that breast milk just wasn't for him so at two weeks he decided to starve himself in preference, refusing the breast. He also was covered in eczema and had silent reflux. Luckily for him he was put straight on to neocate, for during the couple of years leading up to his birth, our family paediatrician who by this point had all four of my children in his care had seen the flurry of symptoms food intolerance can produce.

As my eldest child Levi was still on syrup medication for reflux until just before he started school, his paediatrician felt it would be a good idea to see how he went, off medication. I was able to get him through with the occasional dose of over the counter antacid for a couple of months until he started school when his reflux exacerbated, so the prescription medication was reintroduced. I took him for his paediatric review a few days later and was told to start him on a prescription
syrup antacid as well as he'd been complaining of heartburn symptoms. Within 3 days something was going wrong. His teacher asked me what had happened to him, he was bouncing off the walls and displaying ADHD symptoms, being loud and disruptive. I rang his paediatrician and told her that I was taking him off the prescription antacid and told her what was happening. But things were going down hill fast, his ADHD symptoms were becoming worse, his coordination had
plummeted and he'd lost all sense of balance (which had never been a problem in the past), he'd fall over for no apparent reason, there were times that he would behave like he was drunk or high, giggling and slouching, and his eyes would zip from side to side really quickly (I was told the medical term, I think it was nystagmus…)

To top it off, Jessica, had started doing the parkinsons shake (she was still refluxing terribly and was also on both Zantac and Prepulsid syrup medications). Levi's teacher asked me to have him assessed by an Occupational Therapist who diagnosed him as having dyspraxia, a developmental condition that makes them have to have constant repetition as they have to relearn everything over and over because they can't retain it. I knew that it wasn't a developmental problem as he had always been in advance of his age appropriate milestones and I'd spent lots of time with him, he could climb trees, jump, skip, ride a bike without training wheels
from 3 years old, and had great hand eye coordination prior to this happening. All of that coupled with the ADHD stuff just wasn't right. So I made an appointment for the paediatrician (his regular paediatrician wasn't available so I asked for the one that was now looking after my other 2 children). He was dumbfounded. He'd remembered seeing Levi from time to time when I'd had to go for appointments with the others and he didn't have a clue what was going on. So he ordered
several blood tests, a CAT scan and an EEG. Everything came back clear. I remember saying to him at that stage that it had all started when the syrup antacid was introduced but I couldn't understand why it was still happening. I of course got a Tsk Tsk for pointing my finger at the medication. So I battled onwards for a couple of months, racking my brain, I rang the reflux support group and the lady I talked to said that her son who was on these medications was also ADHD. I was at my wits end, Levi's symptoms were getting worse, I resorted to ringing the drug company who manufactured the antacid and talked to one of the medics who worked in the lab. She told me that she had heard of this sort of thing happening before and that it was probably due to the alcohol, or the preservatives and flavourings used in the medicine as they are really concentrated in ALL syrup medications. BINGO. Now I was facing a dilemma. How could I treat my children’s reflux without the medications, I could see what it was doing to my kids - all 3 were on the same medications. I found a naturopath who made a tonic catering for my children’s reflux symptoms. In a matter of weeks I was able to control the older 2 with the herbal treatment alone. Within 7 weeks Levi's ADHD had settled down, his balance and coordination had returned and when we saw the neurologist at this point he agreed that Levi's problems were due to the preservatives and flavourings in the medications and felt that he was a normal 5 year old. Funnily enough Jessica was cured of the parkinsons shake and Levi stopped falling over.

I at that stage really started to read labels. With careful monitoring I was able to avoid foods that contained artificial colourings, flavourings and preservatives so the kids reflux and behaviour was settling down. At this time you could buy rice milk and oat milk as an alternative to cow’s milk and soy so the reflux for the 3 older ones was controlled purely by diet alone. I was able to see symptoms occurring when they'd eat a particular food or have a drink of juice. Jess was still in a flurry with the post nasal drip which would cause a persistent cough where she could barely catch a breath in between. At our next appointment with the paediatrician (I now had only Jess and Zac going), I told him about what foods would cause what symptom and he suggested going into the RPA clinic. So off we trotted, it was a big day that day, we found out Levi was anaphylaxis to peanut (I'd known he was mildly allergic and avoided it entirely) and I was educated about salicylates and amines. We did the elimination diet and with the reintroduction of certain foods it caused chaos. We lived a couple of years of pretty bland, I've found that they certainly improve with age, but I still have to be pretty strict with what Jess and Zac eat.

When Zac was two he was taken off the neocate. Our paediatrician suggested a follow on formula that was cow’s milk based but the protein was broken down into small chains. Within days the poor child was on the tantrum rollercoaster, throwing tantrums which generally lasted around half an hour at a time, where he'd hurt himself, belt into things, bash anyone who was around, and he'd have 6 to 8 of these a day. I was genuinely concerned that he was going to hurt himself or someone else. I rang the paediatrician (by now I was well and truly on a first name basis) and told him that I wasn't giving him any more formula and that he'd have to get by on rice milk.  Now you can get calcium enriched and vitamin enriched rice milk so that's somewhere else to go if you need to.

I've also seen dairy cause speech problems (this happened to Zac when he was on the follow on formula), tantrums, dyslexia (they can't get their tongue around words, mirror write letters and misspell words), very pale skin complexion, behavioural problems, ADHD symptoms, along with the gutty symptoms, reflux, eczema, and postnasal drip and that's just in my children. I understand that dairy and wheat are now being looked at as being causes for mild autism.

If you're at your wits end, if your child displays any of these symptoms or has a learning difficulty especially if there's something happening with each of your kids, even if their symptoms are different, food intolerance is worth looking into. It runs in families. Dietary modification may be the answer you’re looking for. My children are now medication free. If your GP doesn't want to go there, find a doctor that will. You need to be strong and assertive because you're going to encounter a lot of doctors and specialists who think it's all a crock, but you have to ask yourself why are there so many kids with ADHD, behavioural problems, learning difficulties ....unfortunately a lot of the food you buy from the supermarket has artificial additives, for the sals and amine intolerant remember that a lot of the fruits and veg that years ago were seasonal are now available all year round not to mention what they do to them to ripen them and keep them fresh, and for the dairy intolerant look to your genes for the answers, there are several races that are known can't tolerate dairy. It may just change your life. - Sandra Madden, Heathcote  NSW This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. (Sandra now coaches children with dyslexia and learning difficulties and is happy to hear from others, please put food intolerance in the subject line)

I exchanged a few emails with you early last year in regards to a breathing problem I've had since my early teens (I'm 41 now) and thanks to your information on how to watch out for certain foods my life is MUCH improved. I have been weight training since my late teens and have picked up quite a bit of knowledge on nutrition along the way but looking deeper into foods containing preservatives, sulphites etc has opened my eyes to a whole different side of eating. As an ex-smoker I always put my problem down to that but limiting my intake of mince meat, prawns, pizza, processed meats etc. to a very small percentage of my diet has done more for me than giving away the cigarettes. – Richie, Vic

My 4.5yr old son has been our biggest challenge. All his problems are proving to be food related – it’s amazing. His issues are aggression, ODD, poor impulse control, argumentative, continual congestion and ear infections (2 lots of grommets), continual rashes, blotches, sore tummies, burning anus, bloating, bedwetting etc, all of which are being controlled now by diet. We had been giving him decongestants, antihistamines, nasal sprays and antibiotics since the day I stopped breastfeeding him at 6 months ... He was a wild little boy but we've now found out that benzoates are his worst enemy. His nose his dry now and needs no medication. – by email, NSW

Since the age of two I have seen a pattern develop in my daughter Jaslyn whereby she gets a cough every time she gets a cold. If I treat her with cough medicine the cough persists and becomes chronic, sometimes lasting weeks and causing great distress. In the worst episode two years ago she developed a serous asthma type wheeze with obvious distress and difficulty breathing after drinking soft drink – which she rarely has – and taking cough medicine.

Since them we have discovered that her symptoms and cough are greatly lessened if we do nothing when she has a cold and let it take its course. What we have found for the past two winters is that now if she gets a cold she will get a cough but it will last only for one or two nights if we do not give her any cough medicine. We have a strong family history of allergies and asthma and although I was aware of avoiding sulfites and preservatives in her food I was not aware of the use of benzoates in medicines. I realise now that the benzoate preservatives in cold medicines exacerbate my daughter’s symptoms and turn her persistent cough into difficulty in breathing and asthma like symptoms. – Julie Eady

About two years ago, I attended one of your seminars in Christchurch, NZ. When I first entered the room, I remember seeing information on foods to avoid including broccoli, avocado and olives. I was shocked. Not only were these my son’s favourite foods but they were healthy. I listened, watched the videos and felt these were all good descriptions of my difficult boy ... but I was not stopping him from eating "healthy foods"! Two years later and Shaun (not his real name) is now 10. During this time, his behaviour at school has deteriorated and he is having a tough time. Despite being an excellent reader and achieving high maths results, he cannot spell, his writing is messy and he finds it hard to stay on task. He annoys other children and is very defiant towards teachers. At home he can be demanding, argumentative, sulky and has low motivation. Last week I remembered the book "Fed Up" I had bought and pretty much shelved. I pulled it out and was surprised that two years ago I had highlighted the symptoms for Oppositional Defiance listed on page 3. It was an exact description of Shaun. He even agreed that’s how he felt.

Shaun has now been on the elimination diet for a week. On the first day of the diet, Shaun did a homework sheet for me in 5 minutes that normally would take him 15 to complete only half with lots of moaning and groaning. His writing seemed to be better. His teacher has noticed that he has more self control, and is doing his work. Shaun says he feels happier at school. Is it possible to see behaviour improve this quickly? I am really hoping that this will work because our lives have been very stressed. – by email, NZ  [this family was already additive-free, which generally leads to quicker results]

After failsafeing my children we have seen a great improvement in their behaviour. My eldest daughter (nearly 5yrs) was diagnosed with ODD. She is so much happier and easier to live with since being on the diet. My youngest daughter had dry eczema on her arms that has all but disappeared. Both of my children were on what would have been considered an extremely healthy diet (fit for life) with very little junk food and loads of fruit and vegetables. They have both improved considerably over the four or five months on the diet. Thanks for the work you have done in making us aware of what really is in our food. We have tried many things to help our eldest daughter with little success and were at our wits end. Food has turned out to be a big key. Now some of the other methods we had previously tried (eg. reward charts) actually work. If we have a slip on the diet it's like a wall goes up in her mind and she can't listen anymore. – Belinda, by email

My 9 year old nephew 'suffered' from super hyperactivity and very bad mood swings for most of his life which was very stressful for all his 3.5 school years. His violent behaviour, which only ever occurred at school, included pushing over desks, tearing up paper, pulling phone connections out of walls, pulling plants out of the garden and hurting a teacher when being restrained. They would ring his Dad to come and take him home. He visited many medical specialists, was finally diagnosed ADHD and prescribed adult doses of drugs  with no improvement.

Over the last six months he has been failsafe while being homeschooled and there was an incredible difference within two weeks. In four months he covered nearly 12 months school work and is improving rapidly. He has always been quick to lose his temper at home with his brother and sister but since he started on the diet we have not seen him angry.  He actually had his head slammed in a car door recently by his sister's friend.  It must have really hurt and his eyes watered but his response was "It wasn't your fault, Poppy". We were all amazed. He is now a healthy, happy little boy with a great sense of humour. It is frustrating to say the least that so much of the trauma this little boy and his family went through was to do with food additives.  by email, Qld

•     I have a son who was full on and no amount of discipline would work. We have been failsafe for two months and our lives have changed so much - this is now a happy house.

•     Within two months of starting the failsafe diet Lachlan's teacher came to me and said ‘Do you know, Lachlan is now one of my best writers.’  Prior to that Lachlan had been struggling through the bottom of the class, unable to grasp little things and his writing ability was appalling - almost illegible, dyslexic and with very limited vocabulary. Now he grabs a pen and a sheaf of paper and writes whole ‘books’.  He learnt to play chess after one session and overall his cognitive ability has improved no end.

•     My son’s cousin has taken Ritalin since aged about 10, and sadly now he's 18 and in jail. He also has a heart problem …

•     My 5 yo son’s asthma is triggered by MSG as well as artificial colours, preservatives and flavours.  If he is given a handful of lollies containing artificial colours he is usually wheezing by bedtime. Every evening I test his peak flow.  When he is well he consistently presents a reading of 110.  Last week when I knew he had been given some lollies (grrr) I tested his peak flow only to find it was around 60.

•     I have a failsafe daughter, and currently she can only buy one item from the school canteen: plain chips.

•     I have just started my 22 month old son on a failsafe diet and in 3 days he has transformed and I am converted!

•     I recently watched a pre-diet video of my boys taken 3 years ago and in it my oldest son was covered in eczema and scratching.  Now, he only gets eczema if he comes into contact with an allergen - eg certain types of grass - or eats something he shouldn't.

•     I saw my daughter when she was 14 months old transformed in a few days of failsafe, gluten and dairy free diet from so clingy, always crying and screaming - so tense she was felt stiff - to a smiling happy little girl who played normally.

My son used to bang his head when he was little. He's 12 now and we are doing the diet for his behaviour. After the annatto challenge he started banging his head against a brick wall for about half an hour. When he stopped he told us that he had a headache so bad that banging his head seemed to be the only way to make it feel better. - Australia

My daughter has been exhibiting rage and headbanging that has has progressed over the last 9 months with many other symptoms . After I dsicovered your website I eliminated annatto a week ago and the headbanging diminished but has not disappeared. Annatto was in her vitamins and granola bars that she consumed daily. It was also in many other items that she consumed such as ice cream, Doritos, salad dressing.  I am now eliminating all additives you recommend to avoid. - USA

I am a 30 year old Nurse living in the UK. A few days ago I had an anaphylactic reaction that came on within 20 minutes of eating cereal. I ate my usual brand of muesli mixed with some high fibre cereal my hubby bought from our local health food shop. It is called "Ultra Soya & Linseed Bran" made by a company in Australia called Vogels. I had not eaten anything else that morning and looking at the list of ingredients the only ingredient I do not eat regularly is the natural food colour Annatto (160b). My hubby has been looking this up on the net and found many reports of allergies to this. - UK

A few months ago I started chewing sugar free chewing gum several times a day and since then, my stomach has been almost continuously bloated. On occasions the amount of gas in my stomach is so extreme that I have to force myself to burp to relieve the pressure in my stomach   - Male, 30s, Australia, sorbitol and maltitol, twice daily.

I was suffering with a sort of what I thought was "gastritis", causing extreme obnoxious embarrassing gas and bloating, and after an hour or two, constant gas every 10 minutes for hours and hours .... it was so bad I wanted to run away from myself, I know that’s funny but it was quite disgusting, the doctors told me I had a spastic colon but I noticed the "health" food candy bars I thought were healthy had sorbitol and my stomach feels perfect since I've been reading the labels and staying away from the sorbitol - female, 30s, USA, sorbitol, daily

I ate 5 caramels that I thought were safe because they were free of artificial colours and other additives. A few hours later I had excruciating stomach pains and sudden diarrhea – female, 40s,
Australia, maltitol, one serve

I have suffered from a red itchy rash for the last 7 weeks which has worked its way over most of my body.  It started around the waist and moved down to my thighs and legs and then up the back of my legs and buttocks.  It has also appeared on my arms and underarms, neck and eyelids.  I first thought it was hives and went to the doctor who prescribed cortisone cream and antihistamine.  However, the hives didn't go away just appeared less angry at times. It appears to be worse at night and my itching has driven my husband and myself mad.  I have been very depressed and have had several crying bouts - I have even felt suicidal.  Clothing around my waist area seems to irritate and makes me come up in welts.  I have been to a naturopath and a Chinese herbalist, it sometimes looks as if is getting better but last night it was worse then ever.  Then I came across your website and recognised my symptoms from the descriptions and photographs.  I ate a take-away vegie burger yesterday for lunch and have also been using a stock powder (Massel brand) which contains 635 – Dianna from NSW.

I believe I have reacted to this food enhancer/additive.  About 3 weeks ago I developed red lumps/welts all over my arms and torso.  They appeared out of nowhere and caused the itchiest and annoying response I have ever experienced.  I had absolutely no idea what they were or what had caused it. They were almost like insect bites and as I have a few pets I thought maybe fleas, but found no evidence of fleas anywhere.  It wasn’t until the weekend just gone that my husband read an article in the Melbourne Herald Sun about 635 and told me that it sounded exactly like what I had/have.  Thank you for the more informative website and I will now be able to avoid certain foods that may trigger this response.  I still have a few of the sites remaining quite ‘itchy’ but nothing like the first three to four days.  I did attend my local GP who was concerned about the cause of the ‘obvious allergy’ but she was at a loss as to the cause.  I had eaten corn chips prior to the outbreak – Diane from SA.

My mother bought a roast chicken from Woolworths…within minutes of finishing her meal, my 11 year old daughter said her lips were itchy. Then her top lip started to swell up. It became quite puffy, then her bottom lip and tongue started to swell. We rushed her off to emergency. The swelling then seemed to slow down and after a couple of hours it went down although her top lip remained a bit puffy for a day or so. The doctor at the hospital told us she had definitely had an allergic reaction to something. She was given oral phenergan even though things had settled down just as a precaution. When we got home I checked the packet that the chicken had come in and the only thing I hadn't come across before was 635. I managed to find some stuff on the web and figured that it was most probably the cause. Since then we have avoided 635 – Judy from Victoria.

What can we do about this??  We had Dominos pizza last night - a rarity for us. My husband had quite a reaction (itchy, headache, swelling in the mouth, muscle aches, sore chest, chest pains) and when I phoned to enquire about the ingredients they were very defensive and apprehensive about giving me a full list. I was finally advised after much frustration on my part that the olive tapenade has 635 in it (this is after he said it 'pretty much' only has olives in it). I had a mild reaction as well (itchy face, swollen mouth, itchy eyes, pain in chest).

Why don't they have to advise people that it has this nasty additive in it? A FULL ingredient listing should be provided or someone (some food authority) should make people aware that this can happen. It should be law, as I understand the consequences can be quite serious and even life threatening.  My husband didn't get to sleep until well after 2am – even though the pizza was consumed at around 7pm.  The scary thing is that I have allowed my children to have some pizza but thankfully they both declined last night. I know the onus should be on the individual to be aware of what they are eating, and hey, we all know junk food isn't good for us, but every now and then it's nice to not have to cook dinner.

We've had a radical think about fast food as well as processed food and will now just make the effort to make dinner ourselves no matter what – even if we don't feel like cooking! - sincerely annoyed Rachael by email.

(later) I did forward a copy to FSANZ (for what good it will do). And I will forward a copy to Dominos as well.  I've got extremely itchy hands today and my face is getting itchier and more sensitive as the day goes on - it's also a bit puffy and I'm sneezing lots.

I was reading your failsafe information on the internet and came across the article on food additive 635. I couldn't believe the high number of people who seem to be affected by this nasty additive and I am sure you have seen thousands of cases like this but if you are interested here is one more!

My 3 year old son has had a nasty reaction to what I believe to be the additives found in a box of chicken flavoured rice crackers (621, 631 and 627) I am not sure if it is the same as these reactions described in your factsheet but I do know that as his mother it is very worrying that such a small child can have such a severe reaction to what I thought was a "healthy" alternative to snack foods!!

Within minutes of consuming these crackers Lachlan had started breaking out in welts all over his arms and torso. He is also allergic to peanuts and my initial reaction was that this was peanut related however now I am not so sure. The rash was very severe and would fade in and out for weeks (it lasted 6 weeks in total) He was extremely irritable and uncomfortable for this whole time and his behaviour was erratic with major mood swings. I have attached a photograph of his reaction for you to view – Marnie, WA.

Hello, I am 26 and since May have had shocking hives. I have seen an allergy specialist and he’s put me on a low allergy diet, very similar to what I have seen of yours. I have just bought Fed Up and Failsafe Cookbook today, …I am going to continue with the diet and go through the whole process and see if I have any other reactions. I will let you know the outcome. …I know at my worst (which now I am pretty sure in hindsight relate to consumption of the 600s) I was seriously ready to go to hospital and was having trouble breathing, missed 3 weeks of work in one block (then I had a month as holidays in July so I could get better which most of I was pretty sick), and have just had another 5 days of my life ruined. I think I have reached a turning point.

After sending you the email last night, I thought about what I had really done the week before I got sick. I had been really "healthy" and had consumed a cup a soup a day that contained 635 and because I was allowing myself to have a small special treat, I was having a dim sim or one chicken wing ding covered in chicken salt. And due to being sick, I wasn’t cooking from scratch as much any more using things like powered cheese sauce more than I ever had.  For the last few months I can safely say that I would have been consuming this substance at least once a week, more than likely more even if it was a small amount, usually in things like a few hot chips and gravy down the club or wonton soup for lunch or kfc on the weekend or huge amounts in cheesey pastas. No doubt, I have been unknowingly putting myself through utter hell.

I was having trouble breathing due to the swelling of my tongue and throat. My tongue felt like it was bitten really hard and I had difficulty swallowing, even water.  I haven’t talked about it  much because my family and boyfriend would freak if they knew how bad it was. I got through it by using the breathing method I learnt when I had whooping cough. I have constantly suffered for a swollen throat (not huge, but a slight discomfort) for along time and have had trouble taking tablets etc without my throat been red because it was swollen.

[See] a picture of me at my most beautiful. The funny thing is, I had to show the people I worked with and friends the pictures because I don’t think they quite believed me that I have such a problem. They have come up with some good nick names for me. Notice my left eye is slightly puffy too. They also have puffed up a few times, sometimes, like the lips, worse than other times. In this picture, it took about 2 days before they went back to a reasonable level. And this hurt. I could feel the fluid seeping into my lips. Usually, my lips swell the day before I have a major rash. The welts I had at times were as more than a couple of mills off my body. The most painful ones were probably on my breasts or on the inner thigh. As you already know, they itch like nothing else. I remember getting bitten by jelly fish and sea lice over the years, I always had a bad reaction needing a bit of Phenergan but this is ten times worse. My boyfriend kicked me out of bed a few times at first because he could not handle my moving around. Now, he understands I can’t help it.

(later) I am feeling better every day in my actual body, but I am still getting the hives all over my body. They are smaller and less itchy, but it seems like they are in places they really haven’t been much before. Last night my lip puffed up a little so it now looks like I have a cold sore, and I have about ten spots on my face. They aren’t itchy, and like all the other ones on my body now, they aren’t as red or welt like as before, just smaller and more of them. I am guessing that this is the last of this leaving my system, but it is just a worry that 12 days after I last consumed 635 I am still affected. Can this take this long to leave? Are there other cases of it taking this long? I am still following the failsafe diet to the t.

Even though the rash is worse, I definitely feel better in the head, much clearer and waking up not tired. My pmt this month is a bit better and I have less bloating and tenderness, not that it was that bad, but I can never figure out how when on the pill, the body knows to bloat up. Guess its just the extra hormones that have built up. Have checked pill packet, only got them in July, halfway through breakouts.- Alison, NSW.

On Thursday night my husband bought some marinated chicken at Safeway supermarket! I thought it tasted wonderful and really enjoyed it. Then the next day I woke up I looked like I had been bitten by some insects. I am allergic to insect bites so I didn't think anything of it. As the day went on it got worse I was at work and my whole legs broke out in the most severe itchy rash ever. I knew that there was something wrong the day before I went to beach I thought I was allergic to the salt water, when how could this be I’ve been to the beach my whole life.

By the time I got home from work, I was itching like crazy I put calamine lotion on it and it seemed to give me some relief, but it just kept on. At this stage I was worried I was alone, I thought I had caught a fatal disease like hepatitis or some thing, I was thinking suicidal thoughts, I suffer from depression and I was really thinking of offing myself, I tried to call family and friends no one was home. In desperation I went on the Internet to self diagnose myself. I typed in ‘rash’ in google not knowing what to look for. Your website came up at one of the top 10 searches. When I read the stories, some of them I could relate to but others I wasn't sure and still had some doubt. Then I thought back to the chicken, rang my husband he rang Safeway supermarket and they told him yes that it contained the flavour enhancer 635.

By the time my husband came home I had a rash everywhere over my body except my face - they were hives, some the size of 20 cent coins all over me big welts everywhere. I went the emergency department at Monash Medical Hospital in Melbourne, we talked the doctors and nurses about your website. I was at the emergency ward for three hours that night I was prescribed two medicines Promethazine hc1 (phenergan) Prednisolone (panafcortelone) an antihistamine and steroid. After two hours the welts and swelling began to calm down. I will be taking these medicines for the next three days.

Since suffering from this I am not buying any foods with additives in them. I am going to shop organic where ever possible. I have had to miss days of work before of this rash and I even contemplated suicide if it was for your website I don’t know what I would have done, thank you so much – Rachel.

I would like to share my personal story of hell from eating flavour enhancer 635. I have been suffering from a maddening itch and rash for over 2 years now, and I am quite sure that I would still be suffering from it had I not found your website. I am a 33-year old American female, and I moved to Australia just over 2 years ago. At that time I was riding my push-bike up the east coast of Australia, from Byron Bay to Cairns. Somewhere around Gladstone, I started to break out in the itchiest hive-rash I have ever had in my entire life. Naturally at first I thought it was heat rash which I have had before while cycling in other countries, so I bought some prickly heat remedy. In the past that has always worked, but this time it didn’t. The rash just itched and itched to the point where I scratched the skin off, and I just wanted to rip off my flesh.  Everyone told me it was stress from the cycling and heat, and I believed them. When I stopped cycling, I went to Sydney mainly because it was winter there and I so desperately wanted the rash to calm down but it got worse. I would wake up at night scratching, and my eyes often swelled up, I had heart palpitations, fever-like symptoms, and occasionally I would wake up with huge bruises as well. Hot showers would always make it worse. I tried every cream on the market, but the only thing that worked was calamine lotion. I thought I was dying. The itching was absolutely maddening.

Everyone told me it was stress, but I knew that it wasn’t. I have read other people’s stories on your site, and I am so envious of people who figured out what it was right away from one chicken or dried soup. But for me, I had no idea that a food additive was causing my misery. I am a vegetarian and eat pretty healthy.  From what I can gather, I got this ‘ribo rash’ from our Friday night pizzas in Sydney, as well as the occasional Dorito and sakata cracker.  I also have eaten the veggie burger from Hungry Jacks occasionally, and I think all of these things combined with the physical stress of the cycling cause me to have the initial outbreak of ribo rash.  The problem for me though was that I could not see any pattern in what was causing it. Although deep down I really felt like it was something I was ingesting.  For a while, I actually started to think that I was allergic to the water in Australia.  Also I wanted to mention that the rash started on my breasts, arms, and lower back, and eventually spread and moved its way around to my torso, legs, back, face, and neck. In addition, I would get these ‘waves’ of heat and unwellness that I could feel travelling up and down my body.  It is really hard to explain, but I am sure that anyone who has felt it will understand immediately.

This rash made me completely weak and debilitated, to the point where I turned down job offers and could barely even function. For a while I really did think I was going to die. My relationship suffered so much too because I felt so physically unattractive, and to be honest even during sex all I could think about was the rash or the itch or both. Looking back, I don’t know how I made it through. I decided to leave Australia and go to Thailand for medical treatment because at that time I had no medicare card. Spending those 6 months in Thailand probably saved my life.  Really I am shocked that no one has died from this yet. Anyway I was allergy tested for the basics such as wheat, gluten, etc, and everything came up fine. I stayed in Thailand to do meditation in case it was stress and I did a lot of fasting and eventually the rash cleared up.

When I came back to Australia, I was so happy that I battled my ‘mystery illness’ and I was so happy to have my life back. Sadly though, I was only in Australia for 5 days when the rash came back.  I cannot explain the frustration to be back at the very beginning. I got to that stage where I just accepted the fact that I was going to have this rash for the rest of my life. My family and friends all believed that it was stress, and that made me feel worse because I started to feel like everyone thought I was crazy.  Every now and again I would have a big blow-up, where my face and lips would swell up with fluid and my eyes would get so puffy that I could hardly see.  Every time it happened the swelling seemed to get worse and worse to the point where I was definitely at risk of anaphylactic shock.

I went to more doctors. I was tested for everything, including Ross River fever, heavy metal poisoning, strep infection, staph infection, and HIV.  Everything came up negative. The doctors would tell me it was eczema, give me cortisone, and send me on my way. It was so frustrating; even when I told them the rash did not respond to cortisone, they still couldn’t figure it out.

Eventually I decided to adopt a gluten-free, wheat-free diet in a desperate attempt to stop the rash and I took a job at one of the island resorts on the Great Barrier Reef. There were no shops or restaurants, so food choices were very limited. After 9 months of gluten free eating I was still suffering from this insane rash. One day I had a salad for lunch. About an hour after lunch, my face felt like it was on fire and started swelling up like a balloon until it was so swollen I looked as if I had been beaten up. The only thing I had eaten all day was a raw veggie salad with Master Foods salad dressing. Well, the salad dressing just had to be it, and what is often found in salad dressing but 635 … Some internet research the next day led me to find your amazing site after two years of hell, and I wept as I read so many stories exactly like mine.  Finally I could prove that I was not crazy. Two months later, my rash has completely cleared up after eliminating 635 from my diet.  After two years of trying everything else and having no results, the rash is gone.

One thing I know for sure is that this additive is a killer and it must be removed from all food in Australia and elsewhere in the world. If my body rejects it so violently, imagine how a small child may react – Jennifer Qld.