I went through the RPAH elimination diet about 3 years ago. The dietician confirmed I was intolerant to dairy, wheat, salicylates, amines and glutamates. Despite following a strict regime I have not been able to reintroduce any of the foods that caused an intolerance reaction. My symptoms I have now as a result of low exposure are: IBS, sinus pain, fluid buildup around my eyes, feet and ankles swelling, sleep disturbance, severe cramps in feet and legs. I am asthmatic. ... Update 3 weeks later: I cleaned up my diet (herbs, coffee and some vegies that I had included are now gone) and immediately had migraine type headaches. But since then it has all been much better. So this is the first summer in 20 years that I have been able to wear short trousers and not needed to hide my huge ankles. - Fiona, NSW

My son’s reaction to amine foods is always the same: depression, crying for nothing, being angry, seeking conflicts, ODD like behaviour and many attacks of night terrors (like 5 times in a 2-week-period). He had very strong reactions to pork meat and to chocolate, and the effects to those foods lasted for almost 3 weeks even after stopping the challenge. His reaction to salicylates is the usual hyperactive, silly behaviour, talking too much/too loud and having more little accidents.- by email, Europe

Was just reading your article on Atrial Fibrillation from additives and I am certainly one who suffers from this, especially with MSG. The latest attack was as recent as Friday last week. I tried out a new Thai restaurant and that night was awake until 2am (after going to bed at 10pm) with a pounding heart. It is an issue for me and the worst is definitely MSG. I have been having these symptoms for 8 years that I know of (I am 39), ever since I was diagnosed with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. I think the symptoms were present before this but I didn't recognise them.

I realised it was due to MSG, firstly when it seemed to happen whenever I ate Chinese or some Asian foods. Then it was a process of isolating those foods with MSG and without to see if symptoms occurred. I get such a strong reaction that there is no doubt it is related to food. I also experience bloating symptoms along with the heart palpitations. I haven't tried this with other additives but I just generally stay away from all processed/packaged foods and feel a lot better for it. If I do eat the occasional packaged food I make sure there are next to no numbers in the ingredient list!

I have spoken to a doctor about these symptoms in the past but when I realised they were a reaction to additives I didn't pursue it any further. - Georgina, by email

I've had a long-term salicylate intolerance and avoid salicylates as much as possible in my diet. Last year I was diagnosed with an under-active thyroid and found once I was started on the medication that a lot of my allergic rhinitis disappeared. I was still having reactions to salicylates but not nearly as bad. Thyroid problems are apparently very common and as mine was under-active my metabolism wasn't processing things as it should making my symptoms worse – Caroline, UK

(Note that one cause of underactive thyroid could be iodine deficiency. This has become more common as iodine intake has dropped in industrialised countries over the last two decades due to less (iodised) salt being added to meals. Too much iodine can be as bad as not enough. Failsafe sources of iodine include seafood (2-3 times a week), dairy foods and eggs but not seaweed such as kelp or nori. Dietitians now recommend iodised salt for the RPAH Elimination Diet. Recommended Multivitamins also contain iodine. If in doubt, consult your dietitian.)

More information http://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/bhcv2/bhcarticles.nsf/pages/Iodine_explained). http://www.foodstandards.gov.au/consumer/safety/recalls/bonsoy/pages/default.aspx

When I have MSG or other flavour enhancers I get heart palpitations. It feels like my heart is pounding really hard and fast in my chest and will last for about 15 seconds at a time. It's quite scary. I wasn't sure what caused it initially but over a couple of years it established a pattern. A few hours after I'd eaten MSG or other enhancers - Chinese foods, BBQ flavoured chips, red rock deli honey soy flavoured chips, maggi chicken flavour 2 minute noodles, cheese flavoured CCs, 635, 621 are the ones I have noticed on packaging.

I'm 38 and didn't realise until my son was in kindergarten (born 1998) what had been making me so sick and still I was silly enough to give into my craving for these foods some times. He had terrible problems with reflux, even though breastfed and there was no formed poo. He screamed all day every day but they told me I was a bad mother. By kindergarten, he had over 50 days off school with diarrhoea and then was referred to a dietician who hit the nail on the head and that was when I realised how foods were affecting me too. I no longer touch these foods and it hasn't happened since. – Sharyn, by email

I am in my sixties. I can tell if a product has sorbates by the sore spots that develop in the mouth and then develop into mouth ulcers. With margarine (the RPA recommended challenge) it tends to build up over several meals. I have also worked out the preservatives in meats, particularly bacon and silverside, give a disturbed alimentary canal showing signs at the rear end. - Trevor, by email

I am writing to give feedback regarding the recent Today Tonight story in Sydney about artificial food colours.

I can't believe there is still doubt about the effects these additives have on behaviour! I have had experience with the effects of these additives with my own children and can refer you to many other people who agree.

If there is a natural alternative without any suspected side effects why are we using additives that DO have suspected side effects? Additives that have been BANNED in other countries! Why are we not travelling the safer route? This is simple logic.

We avoid these additives as much as possible in our foods, but more and more products have more and more additives. One of the best resources for information and studies I have found is Sue Dengate and her Fed Up books and website. Sue has been looking into the problems with these additives for years and I really feel it is time for further attention and action on this issue. These additives do affect our health!

I hope the government is allowing for increased medical costs associated with the effects of these additives in the future, as the numbers will only keep increasing. The increase in the number of food additives since the 70’s correlates with the increase in health issues such as asthma, eczema and behavioural problems. Information on this can be found in Sue Dengate’s work.

This page on Sue’s site lists some of the letters she has already sent asking for change. How many more will it take?

Banning these products has far reaching benefits. Not only for the health and temperament of the people who consume them (in particular children) but also for the stress levels of the parents, teachers and carers who look after these children, would likely lead to reduced medical costs to the government and could possibly even reduce juvenile crime statistics.

The General Manager of Food Standards Australia doesn't think food colourings have an 'impact' on behaviour?? Maybe you need me to send my daughter over with a pack of red frogs! – Fiona, NSW (with permission to reprint this letter)

23 years ago, at the age of 30, I was hospitalised for asthma at Frankston Hospital in Victoria; I recovered quickly with intravenous Theophylline and inhaled Ventolin via a pump. The specialist would not discharge me until I learned what he ironically called The Catechism:

Q: What do you do in the event of an asthma attack in a remote area if there is no puffer?

A: Give them coffee until they shake (lots): this will save them. Decaf coffee will not work.

As it happens, Theophylline is similar to caffeine; the side effects and benefits are similar. – Jonathon, Vic (A Cochrane Database Review, Caffeine for Asthma 2010, agrees: ‘Caffeine appears to improve airways function modestly, for up to four hours, in people with asthma’ http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20091514).

First, I have to thank you for the work you have done. It is just over 3 years since I first picked up a copy of Fed Up with Asthma after my then 16 month old son was diagnosed. The medication did not seem to be working as it should, and I knew there was something else going on. He has major difficulties with sulphites, MSG and flavour enhancers (and natural glutamates) and benzoates (although we still avoid all preservatives and artificial colours because we are used to it now!), and after seeing an allergist and finding a nut allergy as well, all the pieces fit together. He is now a happy and healthy little boy about to start pre-school, whose nut allergies have been decreasing over the last two years - in fact his peanut allergy is totally gone - and has gone from one hospital admission a week to one every 8-12 months. We truly thank you, because it was your book that put us on the right track. Clare, NSW

Just purchased my Xmas prawns and thinking to avoid any additives, I always buy 'Australian' uncooked prawns. As I purchased 2Kg they came in the original box and shock, horror, I see preservative ticked, and then 223 (sodium metabisulphite). This product was labelled 'Wild caught Australian frozen prawns' from Hervey Bay - all sounds so pristine!

I rang the fish man morning and he informs me that all prawns are treated with 223 to prevent discolouring. This is common practice across the industry, the only difference being that imported prawns may not declare the preservative on the packaging. I phoned the Health department who were completely unaware of this practice. I suggested that as processed foods have to have labelling of ingredients what of the 'fresh' product?

An asthmatic with sensitivities to the sulphur group of preservatives may well react to prawns and then assume this is a seafood allergy, as preservative would not be considered a factor. Imagine if all those wonderful sea food displays at this time of the year were labelled 'contains sulphur metabisulphite'! – Judy, Vic

I recently went to see an ENT specialist as I have nasal polyps that have bothered me since my 20s and I was due to have surgery to have them removed. The doctor told me that as our town was having problems with the privately owned base hospital I would have to go to the private hospital at a cost of $2400. He did also say when I said I used to have asthma that people who have asthma and nasal polyps are usually salicylate sensitive.

As we didn't fancy paying the exorbitant fee, I got your book Fed Up out of the library, remembering you had said about salicylates. To cut a long story short we cut salicylates out of my diet and one week later I was able to breathe through my nose. THANK YOU Sue. We have since purchased Fed Up and plan to loan it out to anyone we can help. - Geoff, NSW

I have Samter’s Syndrome (consisting of asthma, aspirin sensitivity and nasal polyps) also known as Samter’s Triad or aspirin-induced asthma. For the last 29 years I have been taking medications and trying to stay alive. When I found the Australian salicylate lists I was so excited, I could finally understand what was happening. I was inadvertently eating salicylates every day. – by email, USA (There are numerous less-than-accurate salicylate lists on the internet. The only figures we support are the updated lists from RPAH; ask for our salicylate mistakes information sheet: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.)

My 4 year old son’ behaviour has always been challenging, but has been particularly bad in recent weeks. After complaining of bloating, diarrhoea etc a breath test revealed that he was fructose intolerant (Note: about 50% of people have a positive breath test, so it is not very useful - Fructose malabsorption factsheet). So we started on the strict fructose elimination diet. My GP asked me a couple of weeks later how the diet was going. I responded that it was going well and that my son had not complained of bloating, stomach pains, etc since. However the thing I had noticed the most was his improved behaviour. I'm sure my GP thought I was a little odd, and commented that it wasn't something he'd heard of before but perhaps my son's behaviour is better because he doesn't have tummy pains. I wasn't convinced.

After a few weeks, we started a challenge by reintroducing the high fructose foods. He seemed to tolerate them well as long as he doesn't eat too much fruit each day. However, his behaviour has been foul! He seems more angry than ever, and last week I was wondering if he may be ODD. The Magic 123 which worked well for so long, now has no impact as he is just so defiant.

So, I started FAILSAFE eating 6 days ago. We haven't done it perfectly as his diet is very restricted due to food allergies and the fructose intolerance. But I've removed the high salicylate items, particularly tomatoes, strawberries and cantelope; and we're really just having the good ol meat and 3 veg for tea every night. I've cut his fruit intake to 1 serve every 2-3 days.

Day 1 perfect behaviour although it was still like walking on egg shells.

Day 2 bad morning, good afternoon.

Day 3 good behaviour a little less eggshells!

Day 4, 5, 6 great behaviour.


When things are good he is the perfect gentleman, well-mannered a real angel. But when things aren't going his way he still gets grumpy but most of the time he can now control the anger. A week or more ago, he just couldn't.

Update 3 months later after doing the elimination diet with a dietitian: Things went really well for some time. However, my son was desperate for some of the non-failsafe foods, particularly tomato sauce and jam. So I gradually caved in, and allowed him to have some. Initially it was a little bit every few days, then a little each daily. Although I'm still careful with his diet, he mustn't be able to tolerate even these quantities as we've started to notice some of the same old behaviour. The salicylates seem to have a cumulative effect on him. Whilst his behaviour hasn't been as aggressive or defiant, I'm certainly noticing that he is loud and unsettled. He can't concentrate on playing with his toys, but instead races around the house and jumps on the furniture! So this week were back on failsafe - strictly! – Carly, by email.

What the researchers say: (See page 14 of the RPAH Elimination Diet Handbook 2009 available from www.allergy.net.au): ‘Having excessive amounts of fruit especially fruit juice and dried fruit can cause symptoms such as bloating, reflux, abdominal discomfort, wind and diarrhoea. Although incomplete fructose absorption can cause stomach and bowel symptoms, it does not cause other symptoms such as headaches, fatigue or skin rashes … improvement of symptoms after going onto a low fructose diet is most likely to be due to the simultaneous reduction of intake of natural chemicals in fruits and vegetables’.

I am trying to find the words that will express exactly how thankful I am for the work you do and for the information you make available to parents everywhere.

You really have changed our lives and the life of my 4yr old son whom we were afraid was showing signs of being ODD and even Aspergers. He also was exhibiting symptoms that suggested irritable bowel and gluten intolerance. Since making the switch to fresh food made from scratch we cannot believe the complete change in our son. I had hoped to see positive results but had no idea that ALL of our problems with his behavioural and emotional development would be solved simply by eliminating all processed foods. I have cried so many times these past few weeks which to my family and friends would seem normal as I am often reduced to tears over my son s behaviour. However, I now cry true tears of joy... the change in him is that dramatic!

We suspect that 282, BHA 320, 160b and the major artificial food colourings as well as MSG were the main culprits. However, we decided that the risks with these chemicals are too great and that rather than read the labels and get tricked time and again it is far easier to just cook from scratch the old fashioned way. Being in the kitchen all day is a very small price to pay for a happy family environment!

I have attached a couple of images that summarise how things have turned out for us... a picture tells a thousand words!!! – Carley, by email.

<before, and after>

Update May 2011: Prior to implementing the diet in our home my 4yr old had never picked up a pencil other than to angrily scribble swiftly on a page before abandoning the task. This image was taken at preschool only one week after being on the diet. I cried. I couldn't believe it, not only was he writing and persisting and trying hard to perfect his attempt at the first letter of his name... he was proud. Proud of himself for achieving something. That meant so much to me, having not really seen that look, that emotion in him ever before." - Carley by email

My 5 year old son has suffered from disfluency in his speech since he started to speak! He was an early speaker, and was putting sentences together very early, but would always talk in a very monotone evenly paced voice, a trait we are now told is quite common with kids who have auditory processing issues. We have recently had him diagnosed with a 'severe' figure ground problem. [the louder the background noise, the more trouble he has in processing what he hears - his actual hearing is perfect] I put 'severe' in italics, because he was tested at a time where he was not baseline; at a time where other factors were in play. Both the audiologist and the speech pathologist had other explanations for the stutter, which was most common at the beginning of sentences. Once he got started, the speech was more fluent, but still monotone.

The speech pathologist said his brain was moving faster than his tongue. He had an amazing grasp of language at an early age and his tongue would catch up with time. We discussed techniques in 'smooth talking' and 'bumpy talking', but aside from that the advice was that he would grow out of it.

The audiologist said that the processing difficulty could be linked to the stuttering as a delaying tactic while the rest of the information becomes accessible.

I don't disagree with these experts, but as time has gone on, I am convinced that other factors are more responsible for these symptoms than either of the explanations above.

We noticed, over time, that sometimes his stutter was worse than other times. A noisy environment always made things worse, supporting the figure ground hearing assessment, but at other times there seemed to be no obvious contributor. Tiredness, we thought? Perhaps new developmental stages?

We had already suspected that colours and preservatives made him 'high' and had eliminated all of those anyway. I made most things from scratch and bought very little processed food.

In about April of this year, we happened upon the 'Fed Up' information. We had just had about 3-4 weeks of hell at home. I was tearing my hair out and the tension in our house with the behavioural problems was unbelievable. His stutter was so bad, that it would take him 3-4 minutes to get through a simple sentence. I was trying to be patient and not draw attention to it as the speech pathologist had told us, but it was not only driving me mad, but for the first time, it was really bothering him. " Mu..Mu...Mu...Mu...Mum..... I....I ....I....I...I.... wa....wa. wa...wa..... Uh, what was I saying mum? " If I'd put in every stutter, it would take up more than a page! Upon reading various fact sheets on the website, I had an epiphany! I had put dried apricots in his lunchboxes for the 2 kinder days and 1 day care day a week for about the last 3-4 weeks. Just 3-4 each time, but I cut them out immediately while I kept researching.

Within 4-5 days of removing apricots [and no other changes], the stutter had improved, but was still apparent. After another week, other people started noticing the improvement.

That was the beginning. While the stutter had not vanished at this point, it was enough to make me convinced that there was something to all this 'intolerance stuff'. We got more serious, and finally started to see the gorgeous little boy that we knew was in there somewhere. The aggression all but disappeared, the frustration and the stutter were much improved but there were still times where things would go downhill again.

After hearing Sue talk, I decided to get much more serious, and undertook the complete elimination diet, including the elimination of dairy and wheat. Prior to starting, I spent about 2 weeks trying recipes, building up my pantry items, stocking the freezer etc. I believe that if I had not done that, I might have given up, fallen in a heap and put it all in the too hard basket. The changes in the household were amazing. I was spending a couple of hours extra in the kitchen every day, but with the elimination of wheat [I am convinced] I had the extra energy to do it. A week in, and his stutter had all but disappeared. It was as if he had suddenly grown up an extra year or two. He took adversity in his stride, he shrugged his shoulders instead of clenching his fists, and any remaining disfluency in speech I felt was because of habit rather than anything else. His voice became more interesting, his pitch patters varied and I am sure that he coped with noisy situations better. All of the 'autistic' tendencies which we had seen for years were improved. He read social cues better, spent much less time with his fingers in his mouth, coped with loud noises better; generally it was an amazing difference. His kinder teacher, who has watched this process with interest, remarked that it almost looked as if we had sedated him!

We are lucky in a way, to have a son who reacts so quickly and obviously to things. It makes identifying problems a lot easier. During our salicylate challenge, he went off the chart for silliness, and the stutter got worse. During a course of antibiotics for a bad bacterial skin infection, he got aggressive, angry ... and the stutter got worse. Every time we have slipped up with food, the stutter gets worse. It is our main indicator that something is amiss.

I have no absolute proof. I am not a scientist. I am not a speech pathologist. I am a mum - plain and simple. But I know my boy. I know who he is and who he isn't and these past 7 months I have watched him like a hawk. I know when he is up and I know when he is down. And I am absolutely convinced that his disfluency is directly connected with his diet. I am not saying that the diet is fully responsible, but added to other issues that he has, the diet is what has made the difference for him. A year ago, I was so worried that when he starts school next year, he would be teased because of his stutter. Now, I know that while we will always face issues with diet and behaviour, at least at baseline, he won’t be that different from any other child.

And of course, I will be eternally grateful to Sue, and all who contribute to the Fed Up website. Without it, life would be a great deal more difficult. The one thing I am thankful for, is that I never let things go. If I had just listened to the experts and not used my brain and my intuition, then who knows....- Kylie, by email

First of all thank you for being my saviour!! My 4 year old little boy had been getting increasingly worse in his behaviour and we had pretty much become isolated due to his extraordinary tantrums that lasted anything up to 2 hours 3 or 4 times a week. I never knew when they would happen and it was normally as soon as we met up with friends in a play centre he would become aggressive, loud, uncontrollable and impossible to calm. Many times I have left a shop or playcentre with him folded under my arm, kicking and screaming, biting anyone or anything that came in his way.

We had already been seeing a paediatrician as he was also under weight and under height for his age. They hadn't found anything wrong but his blood tests were not quite right either. I was getting desperate and he is starting school next Thursday and I couldn't imagine what they were going to say!!

Until 'Fed Up'...... We have been following the elimination diet (mostly) for the last 2 weeks with dramatic results. We have not had any tantrums for 10 days. He is a pleasure to be around and he is sleeping much better. We are not there yet, but so much better. I can’t quite believe he's the same child!! - Fay, UK.

From introduction of solids when my baby daughter was 4 months old, she banged her head more or less continually, to the point of making her nose bleed constantly and causing deformation of the skull. She was always covered in big bruises and it was so bad we could never go out, I couldn’t even leave her alone to go to the toilet. After 18 months of this, we discovered your website 3 weeks ago (when she was nearly 2) and found she was eating heaps of annatto 160b in yoghurt and Kraft cheese as well as some other suspect foods. Although she improved, removing annatto alone was not enough. After a drastic change of diet (we switched to unhomogenised milk only), the head banging stopped completely and we are now slowly reintroducing foods. We cannot thank you enough. No one else mentioned diet. – parents at Launceston talk, Tas

It took me a LONG time to pinpoint Annatto as the cause of my problems. For years I just lived with constant diarrhea. It was at the end of 2009 and beginning of 2010 I started to develop new problems. I started getting severe abdominal pain (like nothing I had before) and then a few months later I started getting extremely bloated. The bloating caused me to have unusual belching fits which just added to the embarrassment of my situation. In Feb 2010, my wife and I took a week long cruise... most of the food on the cruise didn't bother me; for the most part I was symptom-free that week!

When we returned from our trip all my problems returned (much like your story). Then in March a new symptom ... I started to get some very unusual and severe pain in my nether regions to the point that it was uncomfortable to sit down. I went to go see my PCP about the burping, abdominal pain, and my "new" problem.

He diagnosed me as having celiac sprue disease and hemorrhoids. A few weeks went by; the problems continued even with a new diet. The pain in my bottom came and went. Then finally in March, I ended up finding out one of my problems was not hemorrhoids but a perianal cyst that I had to have lanced.

After speaking with the proctologist following my surgery and telling him about all my recent problems he decided to perform a colonscopy to rule out colitis and Crohns. Colonscopy was clean but the only thing they could tell me was that they thought I had IBS.

Finally, in August I went to go see an Allergist. The allergist performed a scratch test and put me on a BRAT (bananas, rice, applesauce, toast!) diet. I spent the next three months slowly adding unprocessed food back into my diet. When it was time to add dairy I began having problems again. It was only after speaking with my older sister that she told me she had problems with food dyes. Her problems were skin related (rashes / eczema). She explained to me that yellow cheese has a dye in it (little did I know at the time).

So, I decided to "re-challenge" dairy but this time with just milk--no problems! I then added yellow cheese to my diet--problems again! Finally, tested white cheese--no problems! It was a eureka moment! :)

I still make a few mistakes from time to time but I have been mostly symptom free since making that discovery. I now have no doubt that ALL my problems (including my cyst) were due to my intake of annatto in all the foods I ate. – by email, USA (we would like to hear from others who are affected by annatto with these symptoms or others: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.)

When my daughter was 12 months old she had a headbanging reaction to annatto in yoghurt. The next week she had another episode of screaming, tantrums and banging her head repeatedly on the metal frame of her bed. The very next day my mum saw a story on ACA or similar program with yourself mentioned, and thought the 4 year old kids on the segment sounded like what we had with our 12 month old ... so we looked up your website. I looked back at food she ate and I had given her a kids Heinz apricot bar and sure enough it had annatto too. This was all I needed to prompt me to look at what she, and we, were actually eating!

My daughter is now 6 1/2 and we still have the occasional uncontrollable outburst and know she's had something. We actually had an incident last weekend with her and the wicked 160b. She was at a friend’s place Saturday night and they thought they were doing the right thing when they gave her jelly snakes 'preservative free, no artificial colours'. I didn't know about the snakes but Sunday saw her at her worst. She woke in a rage and was lashing out, hitting, biting, screaming, indecisive about trivial little things and completely and utterly beside herself. When in this state (the worst lasts for about 4-6 hours) she cannot control any aspect of her being. She even goes as far as plucking all her eyelashes and eyebrows out with her fingers (trichotillomania) if left alone. I went to the friend’s house and began quizzing them! A peek at the ingredients on the snakes proved me right yet again when I saw the number 160b. (fyi they were Aldi brand).

After an annatto reaction is somewhat over, she 'sleeps it off' and will often then sleep up to 15 hours (say 6pm til 9am!!). She had a horrific day and finally fell asleep at 11pm Sunday night. She slept it off and woke close to 10.30am Monday morning. She was fine Monday and Tuesday ... But Wednesday evening saw her showing (relatively mild this time) annatto signs again. I asked her about school (started back on Tuesday) and she was hesitant to tell me her little friend had bought a lemonade 'spider'. I went to the canteen today and sure enough... Annatto in the ice cream!!!!

I'd also be willing to bet my husband reacts to annatto... he gets very moody at times and also his sleep patterns are all over the place. Some nights he will be up all night on the computer and just not tired, then other days/nights he too will sleep for 15+ hours. - Skye, NSW

My son started head banging at 6 months old with the introduction of solids (an all natural yoghurt with ‘no artificial colours or preservatives’ – but it did contain annatto). He has grown out of head banging but if he eats annatto by mistake now he suffers from headaches. – Jo, ACT

I'm a 40 year old physician who has a severe reaction to consuming annatto. If I eat any significant amount, I have the onset of severe vomiting and diarrhea roughly 12 hours later, which then persists for 12-24 hours. I don't have any classic "type I hypersensitivity" symptoms such as hives, just a severe delayed gastrointestinal symptoms. I've managed to effectively avoid annatto since the age of 4 or 5, except for rare exposures every 3-10 years since the age of 4 or 5. I've only recently learned about annatto and concluded that it is the additive that explains my intolerance to certain foods.

Here's my brief story. At a very early age, about age 5, I refused to eat cheese since I insisted it made me sick. My mother tells a story that she didn't believe this, had me eat some, and recalls "sure enough, he threw up!" However, I could drink milk and other dairy products without problem. As a teen, I figured out (the hard way) that white cheese like mozzarella didn't cause a problem, but yellow cheese did. So I continued to avoid yellow cheese, knowing that it made me ill. Everyone around me thought my aversion was odd, and I suspect many people thought it was my imagination. I would accidentally eat something with yellow cheese added every 5-10 years, get severe symptoms, and this would reinforce my belief that I really did have a "physical" intolerance.

I learned of annatto a year ago, and finally my reaction made sense. This connection was reinforced when I got sick a couple of weeks ago, and I assumed it was the flu since I had not eaten cheese. My wife looked in our refrigerator, and sure enough we had some orange yogurt with annatto added. I had eaten two the night before.

I'll also mention that at baseline, with no annatto exposure, I tend to have symptoms consistent with mild irritable bowel syndrome. I've never bothered to ask for a diagnosis, and am used to living with it. So, my pattern hasn't been chronic IBS symptoms with chronic annatto exposure, but severe reactions when I get exposed very rarely. – Physician, USA

After reading on your website the letter from Helen in NSW titled ‘Yellow Addiction’ I felt compelled to write to you.

I realised the adverse effect 160b had on my family approx 3 years ago when my now 6 year old son was about 3. Even at the age of three he was very good at sitting and concentrating at a task, be it drawing, lego or watching tv – except that was if he had consumed 160b within 24 hours. He became a completely different child. He couldn’t sit still, he couldn’t concentrate on anything and authority meant nothing to him – he was literally a nightmare. With hindsight prior to taking 160b out of my son’s diet, yellow was absolutely positively his favourite colour. I can’t remember him being attracted to only yellow foods – he has always been a fairly good eater but definitely yellow “things”. He always had to have the yellow cup and the yellow plate and if he didn’t there would be hell to pay. If you asked him back then what his favourite colour was it was most definitely yellow. His favourite colour today is unknown – it seems to be different every day. Until I read Helen’s letter I hadn’t made the link but who knows maybe it was linked to his 160b intolerance.

Today, obviously I keep 160b out of the house but I can tell straight away if my son has consumed it whilst at a play date! If I personally consume 160b I generally have a terrible night’s sleep and/or are very restless during the day. As you’ve mentioned on your website, 160b does seem to be creeping further into our food supply lately and it is driving me crazy. Aldi in particular seems to be extremely guilty of this. Sue, what can I do to try and get this revolting colouring out. (Contact manufacturers and see our Now Targeting section - S). Obviously we don’t eat a lot of processed food but just being able to let the kids select an icecream treat every now and again has turned into a nightmare. – Donna, by email

My son William had eczema behind his knees when he was 6 months old and then it went away. In October this year it reappeared (just before his 2nd birthday) with a vengeance! It was behind his knees and then spread to his legs, patches on his arms and his entire chest was rough. Fortunately we got onto it quickly and he didn't suffer with any broken skin, however the key things I took out were vegemite and grapes. He had only had vegemite for a few weeks but it took ages to get the eczema to go again. After spending a weekend with my mum, William had eczema behind his knees again. The only thing she gave him which I never do was Vaalia yoghurt (160b) so I took that out and double checked EVERYTHING he was eating for 160b and bingo! No eczema since, with the added bonus of far fewer tantrums. When I realised he had yoghurt with annatto at my mum’s house (and had a little eczema again) I threw out everything that had annatto in it (Heinz kids muesli bars which I was giving him occasionally). The other reason, apart from eczema that had me throw out annatto was his tantrums. William was headbanging again, which he hadn't done in a while. That day I took out annatto and that was the last time I saw him headbang, and that was in November!

He still gets frustrated and chucks a wobbly every now and again, but there's been a big big change since removing annatto. If a normal tantrum for William is a 3/10, they were 8/10 before I eliminated annatto. – Margaret, by email

I react to salicylates with pain in my joints, also I get very tender, raw skin in my genital area and intercourse becomes very painful. I saw you mention sore vagina in children - makes me happy to know I'm not the only one - I have always felt like a freak - so thank you for your books - they have helped me tremendously! - by email

I was just reading in your newsletter a reference to probiotics and thought I would share my daughter's story briefly. In short, she was diagnosed with dairy allergy at 8 weeks, and was finally skin prick tested at 12 months (after Dr's said it would never show up). She had a huge reaction to the skin prick and was promptly issued with an epipen etc. She is also allergic to soy. Her very understanding and experienced gastroenterologist (she has reflux and GI issues as well) suggested that Lactobacillus GG (available in Aust in Vaalia Yoghurt only) had been shown to assist resolution to food allergy. We imported some from the US (called Culturelle there) and she tolerated it very poorly. Her Dr found out that there was a tiny trace of dairy and this reacted with my daughter.

At the end of last year, in desperation because my daughter's quality of life was so poor, we thought we would give Inner Health Plus dairy free a go. It made an enormous difference to her- she started eating again and was not in constant pain. Today she was skin prick tested again with no reaction to dairy. We are about to do patch tests to look for non IG-E allergies- but this is at least a step in the right direction. As dairy allergy is largely outgrown by the age of four, it could just be a natural resolution, but I wonder if the probiotics helped, because it certainly made a huge difference to her life in many other ways. – Sara, by email

The introduction of VSL#3 probiotic seems to have changed my 6 yo son’s behaviour and tolerance. The teachers noticed the difference in his learning at school and we too noticed his improvement at home. - by email, NSW

I am using the RPA diet for management of chronic UTI pain and have found I am extremely sensitive to everything. I used the VSL#3 (probiotic) again) and bammm - burning pain. I think I have learnt my lesson. Just the diet nothing else. - by email, Sydney

After a course of antibiotics I had diarrhoea for weeks but probiotics (Inner Health) sorted me out in a week. - by email, Qld

A week after starting failsafe my eldest (3 1/2yr old) stopped wetting her pants which was nothing short of a miracle and has now gone to bed two nights in a row without a nappy!! – Anna, Vic

My 5 year old has a bladder problem. When she has to go toilet, she has to go NOW or she will leak and wet her pants. We saw a dietitian and started the diet 3 weeks ago. We are dairy free and are going into our 4th week now. We have seen great changes, in all three children. I'm doing the diet too and feel better, less stressed, more patience. Our daughter has had 7 dry nights in a row ... Wendy, Perth

We saw a dietitian and started the elimination diet (including dairy free) 3 weeks ago. We have seen great changes in our children. Our daughter has had 7 dry nights in a row, she is less hyper, less defiant, eczema looks better, no runny nose. Our baby is having less frequent dirty nappies (yeah!). So as you can see it is working for us so far. – Wendy, WA

I have got a 10 yo who is hyperactive and an 8 yo who wets the bed. I recently browsed your website and was astounded with what I found. I was feeding my children with additives just in their sandwiches every day from the bread to the cheese without even realising. I recently changed their toothpaste to a mint one and couldn't understand why one of my children was off this planet with behavioural problems and the other was wetting the bed a lot more. I would never have linked the problems to the toothpaste. I read about salicylates in the mint toothpaste and stopped immediately. The bed wetter has improved already. We have cut additives out of our diet and it seems that as long as we limit the amount of salicylates in fruit and vegetables that he eats, he doesn't wet the bed. – Tania, by email

We have noticed our 3 yo has geographic tongue when he is at the Dr for his ears - which is related to dairy. - by email, Tas

My son (aged 4) is very food intolerant. His symptoms include nose bleeds, ulcerated tongue, grumpyness, headaches, oppositional defiance symptoms and the list goes on. My daughter (aged 7) suffers from stomach aches, headaches and ulcerated tongue - although not as bad. We have followed the elimination diet in the past and have had success. But after being off the diet for 6 months both children's tongues are ulcerated again …

I first noticed the annatto/IBS connection (bad smelling gas, diarrhea, loose stools) with my 3 year old son specifically with processed cheese singles, so I try to keep him away from those and generally don't have a problem, or if so, it is only small. Recently, we were away for almost a week, and when we came back, he started taking these "gummy vites" children's vitamins ("all natural" and sure enough colored with all natural annatto) he hadn't had for some time, and it was like a switch went off and the symptoms were back full force. - Anna, US

My son is 6 years old and for the past year he has suffered from Sneaky Poos and has also suffered from SEVERE constipation. His bowel was so enlarged that he dirtied his pants on a daily basis. He claimed he could not feel it when he messed his pants.

As you can imagine, this was an extremely embarrassing problem for my little boy. I had taken him to the doctor on numerous occasions and was given Parachoc and Duphalac which I administered on a daily basis, and even though they did work, they did not solve the problem as to why he was dirtying his pants EVERY day. I also took him to the Continence Clinic to determine whether or not he had a psychological problem with going to the toilet. Although they were wonderful and supportive, my son still continued to mess his pants.

I was at my wits end, and very near hysterical when I was blamed for my son’s behaviour. I went and saw my doctor who mentioned that he had heard of a “lady who deals with food additives’ and referred me to a dietitian.

The results are amazing …my son was placed on the strict elimination diet, and the results were clearly seen by the end of the first week. He is now going to the toilet every second morning and not messing his pants during the day. He has lost weight, and his concentration span has slightly improved. I am only in week 3 and still sticking to the diet with him. He loves coming shopping with me and purchasing his special “Treats”. He tasted Brussels sprouts for the first time in his life and actually liked them (no sorry I cannot succumb to them!) I will continue on the diet and commence the challenges soon. I am so pleased with the results. – Anna, Qld

Regarding my son and salicylates, he found the last of the watermelon yesterday and today we had the worst case of soiling I can ever recall. He told me it just slipped out. He is nearly 6! He did try to clean himself up but as they do he made a bigger mess. We are very strict with his diet, well, normally. There’s no watermelon left now, the chooks enjoyed it. Thanks heaps.

We did the failsafe diet as a family for our seven year old’s behaviour issues. I would have said there was nothing wrong with the four year old. He used to poo in his pants sometimes but I just put it down to being too busy to listen to what his body was telling him. Now we’ve just finished our salicylate challenge, I realise how wrong I was. It was salicylates! And I used to nag at him to eat fruit and vegetables thinking I was doing the right thing!

I’m writing to say thank you for your work that has made such a huge difference to our twelve year old son. He used to live on stuff like cheese, ham, bacon but now he knows his sneaky poos are related to amines, he sticks to his diet really strictly. Of all the problems caused by foods, soiling really is the worst. No one ever talks about it but the stigma at school is terrible. The other kids used to call him names and make fun of him. My heart breaks for him when I think of what he had to go through, and no one else has been able to help us.

My husband and I have been doing the elimination diet for two weeks now. We are both feeling great, our tummies are not bloated, we are not sour in the stomach in the morning. Another thing that we are so pleased about! My husband can suffer with gout, if he has any red meat. There are also other triggers for him, but the red meat is really the big one. Over the past weekend, we were at friends, and enjoyed some beef and lamb (only seasoned with salt). I knew that we were pushing the boundaries, but I checked with my husband this morning, and there has been no sign of gout at all! Thank you. Things are really going well. - Carla, NT

My partner's uncle tells me he used to be addicted to tomato sauce and had to give up because it was causing his bouts of gout.Now he longer gets it unless he goes to Fiji, which he does quite regularly, where he eats a lot of curry (so obviously salicylate related).He had no idea about the connection. Cherie (gout has been associated with low dose salicylates in medication http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2174925/?tool=pubmed

Thanks for your newsletter - the Readers' Stories section is always my favourite bit. - Tony, by email

I had previously looked through your book and believed I already did 'all that' - I cook nearly everything from scratch for my children, it wasn’t until I sat down and read the book and realised that even the margarine I was using to cook my delicious home-made recipes was no good for my son! – by email, NSW

A week after starting failsafe my eldest (3 1/2yr old) stopped wetting her pants which was nothing short of a miracle and has now gone to bed two nights in a row without a nappy!! – Anna, Vic

We have been following Failsafe eating for three months and it has made an enormous change to our 5 year old boy. Pre-diet he was very aggressive and had developed a range of tics, now all the tics have gone and his lovely, funny nature is shining through. So far the challenges that have affected him have been dairy and salicylates – Karen, by email

My husband and I have been a convert to failsafe for 8 or 9 years - my husband heard Sue on radio late in the evening on his way home from work and from that night forward we read labels! Grand-daughter has survived to 13 years of age thanks to Sue – Kay, by email.

Thank you very much for the blood, sweat and tears you have exerted to make life so much easier for those of us who have food intolerances, or who have loved ones with food intolerances - in my case, my husband and daughter - Debra, by email

I am a coeliac, my two sons have coeliac indicators and one has marked behavioural allergic issues. Our home became a far calmer place within just two weeks of beginning the elimination diet. A full night’s sleep from our youngest after 3 1/5 years of multiple nightly wakings is such a gift to us all!! – Vincent, NSW

We are still having positive results on the diet ... it’s amazing, both kids have now added amine intolerant to the list & I am also, I would never have guessed I would have noticed a personal change but I feel great – Deb, by email.

All this just as she gets the bug to learn to cook (finally at 16) all those Masterchef episodes were wonderful. We shall now see if our creativity can extend to Failsafe recipes. - Jenny, Qld

Like the story in newsletter #64, my kids also have reactions to children’s paracetamol - the Panadol brand seems to be the worst for some reason - they become restless, and are then awake most of the night.- Jessica, by email

Please send your paracetamol recipe as our 18 month old daughter seems to get really upset after taking children’s Panadol syrup. – Helen, by email

When researching behavioural issues in my 2 yo daughter and 4 yo son, the information from your website helped me to work out that annatto in the Nestle brand yoghurt for kids was sending them off. – Rose, by email

I am reading your book 'Fed Up with Asthma' and finding it very enlightening. You have included so many alternatives to problematic chemicals and additives to make life liveable. – by email (Fed up with Asthma is out of print but available in libraries. Otherwise, see chapter 7 in the 2008 edition of Fed Up).

I had some bacon the other day and sure enough, the next day I had a migraine. First time in a long time. That has confirmed to me that this is definitely a trigger for my migraines. I also had pre-migraine thirst and a craving for sugary food. – by email

My husband is an amine responder and reacts to chocolate with gout like symptoms.- Rose, WA

My child (on coloured antibiotics) is like a kid on speed today - screaming and yelling, hitting her sister, breaking trees and generally being violent and frustrated at every little thing. I'm taking her off the medication in the hope she will get better on her own as the alternative is not pleasant for anyone, herself included. – by email

Unfortunately I was unable to attend your seminar in Port Lincoln. A few of my friends went and told me how wonderful you were. I borrowed your book Fed Up and read it in two days - unreal! It has been like a light switched on in my head! I also borrowed the DVD and watched it twice the same day!! We have made a few changes, and already I can see the change in my son! - Kylie, SA

I can't tell you how happy I am to have found out about FAILSAFE (by accident). It's only day three and I feel like a different person. However, I will be aware of any withdrawal symptoms over the next few days or weeks.

If this diet works, as I'm sure it will, you will have literally saved my life. I was on the brink of giving up. I felt my life was over. Words can't describe how ill and depressed I had become. Life was miserable. No doctor wanted to help, couldn't help or just didn't believe me. One doctor told me my symptoms were all psychosomatic.

I went to the shops today and didn't have social phobia. That in itself is a miracle. My depression has lifted. My nerves are calm and my tummy is happy. It's not a chore in any way to eat the foods recommended and avoid the others.

Update after one month - Overall, the depression is the best it's ever been. Of course, there have been days where I've felt down and discouraged. Even then, I handled a relapse of chronic fatigue more positively than I have ever done before. My daughter noticed this too and told me so. I just took one day at a time and listened to my body. Many days were spent flat on my back, which is the best thing I could have done anyway.

The social phobia is long standing (since about 8yrs old). Looking back at my childhood, I think that there were many foods that were affecting me. I had terrible shyness, was afraid of everything, had constipation, tummy aches, migraines, bad breath, heat intolerance, fluctuating weight and eating disorders (binges and starving).

Update after six months – I am happy to report ongoing improvements in overall mental, emotional and health conditions. I have had around 40 people now, tell me how amazing I am looking (I must have looked terrible before). They ask me what's my secret? I am happy to tell them- FAILSAFE!! I will never go back to eating the way I was. This diet is for life. - Liz, NSW

When I first picked up the two books I chose only the "Fed Up", because "The Failsafe Cookbook" looked just like another recipe book to me. But I was back to the bookstore a few days later buying “The Failsafe Cookbook” and it has become our manual for living ever since, and a permanent fixture on the kitchen bench! PS - the pediatrician was very pleased with my daughter's improvement and asked about the book, he had heard of it but not known anyone who had tried to follow it, so was very impressed when he could see results - Teresa by email.

First of all thank you for being my saviour!! My 4 year old little boy had been getting increasingly worse in his behaviour and we had pretty much become isolated due to his extraordinary tantrums that lasted anything up to 2 hours 3 or 4 times a week. I never knew when they would happen and it was normally as soon as we met up with friends in a play centre he would become aggressive, loud, uncontrollable and impossible to calm. Many times I have left a shop or playcentre with him folded under my arm, kicking and screaming, biting anyone or anything that came in his way.

We had already been seeing a paediatrician as he was also under weight and under height for his age. They hadn't found anything wrong but his blood tests were not quite right either. I was getting desperate and he is starting school next Thursday and I couldn't imagine what they were going to say!!

Until 'Fed Up' ... We have been following the elimination diet (mostly) for the last 2 weeks with dramatic results. We have not had any tantrums for 10 days. He is a pleasure to be around and he is sleeping much better. We are not there yet, but so much better. I can't quite believe he's the same child!!

(2 months later) He is now a couple of months in and we are so lucky to have such a gorgeous child now. We have had the occasional bad mood or minor tantrum if we have strayed a little or if we have made a mistake but no major full blown ones since we started the elimination diet - Fay, UK.

I first had contact with Sue way back in 2001, when her article called ‘Restless Babies’ in Nursing Mothers magazine saved my life!! I went failsafe as I was breastfeeding our unsettled/ ratty 6 mth old baby. We were amazed after she became a new baby after 3 days of diet!! That baby is now 9, and very conscious of the additives that affect her, and knows that by avoiding them, she feels better.- by email. ‘Restless babies’ article 

I am a frustrated mother of a beautiful 4 year old boy. I have taken my son to see numerous GPs, dietitians & gastroenterologists, all of who have told me that the Elimination Diet is too restrictive, too hard, not worth the effort or words to that effect. However, upon discovering The Failsafe Cookbook & Fed Up books and starting him on the diet by avoiding the artificial additives, we have noticed significant improvement in his symptoms. The initial symptoms were unexplained diarrhoea & stomach pain. However, an unexpected and exciting benefit of this diet is that his behaviour has dramatically improved. He isn't as irritable, more compliant and a lot more pleasant to be around - Anita by email.

About 4 weeks ago i removed 282 from my sons diet and he improved greatly, he would only speak in a mumble, he suffered from many nose bleeds in the week, was very negative about everything, not affectionate, didn't interact at preschool, would not co-operate at speech therapy. The change has been great he is talking so much more, he has not had a nose bleed since stopping 282, he is loving to everyone, he was great at speech did everything he was asked and sat still, interacts with others and notices things around him so much more - Reader by email.

I recently attended one of Sue's talks, and I have begun by just eliminating the additives on the yellow card I was given at the talk. While I have not weeded out all additives, I have seen a huge improvement in my son's behaviour, which I wasn't REALLY having too much of an issue with as a general rule, but I thought I would try it to see what happened. He has gone from a kid who wasn't getting in a lot of trouble at school, but only got 3 happy notes at school in two terms, to one who got a happy note about every 2 weeks from when I started eliminating the additives, as well as a merit award. While small compared to other people's results, I am really pleased with this, and he is generally calmer and easier to deal with. I never particularly noticed a link between what he ate and his behaviour, but now I see it! He had a lolly bag from a friend's birthday on Friday, and he was defiant and argumentative for 2 days after that. Fortunately, today it seems to be out of his system. – Alice, NSW

Our family have been following the Fed Up books for over 2 years now for a 5 year old daughter who was reacting severely with rashes on her face & body & a son whose doctor wanted to prescribe ADHD medication.

I can happily report that our daughter is rash-free and in fact after 7 years she doesn't even have eczema anymore. I believe her immune system has improved dramatically since being mostly failsafe. She is a healthy beautiful clear-skinned little girl with a good resistance to illnesses these days. My son is also progressing well with a mostly failsafe diet and fish oils to help with concentration. (our biggest problems - artificial colours & preservatives & in my daughter case - corn as well).

Just as an aside to this story - I put up with dreadful headaches every day for about 15 years, along with the headaches I got muscle cramps in my neck & shoulders. I was on a muscle relaxant for years until visiting a chiropractor. I went off the medication but after some weeks had a return of the problem after eating bacon & ham.....I am now convinced it was nitrates that were giving me the problem, and I have proven it a couple of times since. I have read about headaches & nitrates but can’t find anything on it affecting the muscles - for years I thought I was just being uptight!! - Julie by email

For the past 18+ months my wife has suffered from an increasing problem with gut issues and chronic diarrhea and related symptoms. She has tried various milks and milk substitutes (soy, etc). None have made any difference to her gut problems. Her GP has not found any specific cause and has recommended a range of tests and indicated it was probably "irritable bowel syndrome" which I'm sure you know is one of the catch-all medical labels which basically means "we don't really know".

On pure chance my wife (who had seen your report a couple of years ago on A2) decided about 6 weeks ago she had nothing to lose by trying A2 milk.

Our life has been transformed and this happened literally overnight! Gut patterns are back to normal, a far far cry from many daily urgent dashes to the loo, usually immediately after eating or drinking almost anything but particularly things containing dairy products. Literally life became normal within 4 hours of her first bowl of oatmeal with A2 milk. Absolutely amazing. The transformation has been astounding and we are very grateful to the people that have figured out the A2 story - Russell by email.

I found your site quite by accident Googling and I had an 'OMG' moment - I have suffered from rashes on my torso for more years than I can count, also itchy dry skin and bowel upsets when I ate different things. I read about 635 and I was saved. I went through my pantry and was gobsmacked at how many items I was consuming with this additive in it. Since disposing of them all (and believe me there were many) and checking what I buy but mostly sticking to food that looks like food all my problems have disappeared. I cannot tell you, nor would I know myself, how much money I have spent on creams, lotions, powders and tablets, and the misery my life has been because of this -and how it is a different as night and day since I found out about it. Thank God for your site or I would still be oblivious to what was causing my suffering....who would have thought that I would still be learning at age 64!!!!!! - Maev by email

I recently went on a cruise for 9 nights on a P and O ship. When I booked it sounded like the chefs would be accommodating for any diet, but I found the food a bit difficult! They don’t seem to understand salicylates, even the cooks!! By the end of the trip I was hanging to get home to eat properly - the food was getting very boring. They didn’t make any special gluten-free food other than bread so I was thankful I had taken some cake and biscuits. When we visited a little island we weren’t allowed to take food with us and they were providing a bbq. Well the only thing I could find to eat there was a red delicious apple!!! - Rosemaree, SA

I cannot tell you how grateful I am for your guidance on food additives. I noticed a while back, when we were living in Scotland that my daughter (aged 3) reacted to salicylates. I found some information about Dr Feingold's work and kept fruit etc to a minimum. It was only after we moved to Australia that I noticed a big change in her (anxiety, defiance, restlessness, night waking, loud silly noises, aggression towards her brother). We blamed it on the move, a new baby brother etc. But we had no real idea as to what was causing it until we found your website and realised both cream cheese and bread in Australia have preservatives! We never had this problem in the UK so I didn't realise dishing up cream cheese sandwiches (my daughter's favourite) would cause us all such bother! I do hope some changes can be made here in Australia. We are only two weeks into our changed diet and the difference is astounding! - Emma, WA (Australian regulators say we have a higher permitted level of preservatives because of our hot climate - S)

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