For more than 20 years I had dreamt vividly and had woken each morning exhausted until I started on the diet and in the last couple of months I have had about 10% of the dreams I used to have. Shona, by email

I started on failsafe ten years ago when I was a teenager. Salicylates are the worst for me. They cause what I call 'salicylate dreams'. They’re like watching a war movie, and I am unable to stop it. – by email

I am a 68 year-old with no health problems except the beginning of muscular stiffness. I’d like to know if [a certain all natural megavitamin supplement with bioflavonoids and strong fruit extracts] contains any additives not noted on the labels. I honestly cannot note any difference except that my sleep pattern has changed. Previously a 'go to bed and drop off' person I now find myself either lying awake half the night or going to sleep and waking in the small hours of the morning– from Questions in Failsafe Newsletter #59 . (It is common for natural vitamins especially when chewable to contain very strong fruit extracts that can cause this kind of salicylate reaction. In a similar report to the same supplements a mother wrote: ‘all four kids reacted for a week - silly jumping around, wouldn't listen, couldn't concentrate, fighting with each other - the little ones were the worst - I couldn't believe it, just from one tiny little pill’)

A nine year old boy from the NT suffered from snoring and sleep apnoea. The elimination diet revealed that a few food additives were responsible  sunset yellow (110), the bread preservative (282) and MSG (621). When he later developed the problem while avoiding his food triggers, fumes from a new mattress turned out to be the cause. – from Failsafe Newsletter #1. See for hundreds of reports of health problems mostly in adults due to chemicals in new mattresses.

We’d been failsafe for several years when we ate some hot chips (BHA 320) several times while on a holiday. My son’s sleep talking and sleep walking which had stopped on the diet came back again the nights we had chips. – by email See also Failsafe Story [596]

“My sister’s 3 yo son suffers from night terrors. He is a bright, happy boy during the day but his constant inconsolable screaming at night is distressing. He eats large amounts of fresh fruit and vegies.

3 weeks later: “My sister cannot believe the difference. She is making everything failsafe. Her son has had his first week in more than two years, without waking, screaming etc.” – by email

My 6 year old son is allergic to dust, cats, and sensitive to some food additives. So far we have had reactions to 621-635 and 160b and are looking at 282 now. Just wanting to thank you for putting us on the right track to start with. Our son's nose was 90% full of swollen tissue. He was working 20% harder to breath giving him terrible headaches etc. He is now starting to feel better, sleeping better, behaving better (prev we were told it was adhd - have my doubts now) and generally feeling better - by email

A nine-year-old was taking medication for rhinitis that was so bad that he couldn’t breathe or talk properly. When this boy eliminated milk as the last stage of going failsafe, both his behaviour and rhinitis improved dramatically. His mother explained: ‘Our paediatrician was really surprised. He said he could tell the rhinitis was better, because the hairs in his nose have grown back.’  - from Fed Up!   (included on the Rhinitis factsheet because rhinitis can contribute to snoring)

Three years ago I started the RPAH elimination diet and discovered I was suffering intolerance (to dairy as well as other food chemicals). Although other symptoms cleared up, there were a few niggling things, particularly the blocked and running nose, always having my sleeve or back pocket loaded with tissues, ready for the inevitable moment. I had always suffered this morning and evening ritual of a running nose so 'just lived with it'.

(Trying the diet again 3 years later) After a week of full elimination, the runny nose persisted. I read and re-read through your checklist of common mistakes and decided to try plain toothpaste which I never did 3 years ago as my dietician at the time said, 'oh you don't have to give up toothpaste if you don't want to - everything else though' and I never really considered it could cause me such suffering.  Well well well.  A truly amazing change has occurred for me. No more nose blowing at breakfast time or when I'm settling into bed at night. The tap has officially been turned off!   (included on the Rhinitis factsheet because rhinitis can contribute to snoring)

I am total agreement with your stories regarding depression etc due to food intolerance. I suffered for about ten years trying all sorts of things. I was depressed, anxious and had a host of strange sensations and numbness, foggy, bad tempered, the list goes on.

The diet I followed was basically to eat non processed foods, and I believe what I was actually eliminating was flavour enhancers, including HVP and other hidden enhancers. I have felt that MSG has been my downfall, although things like other additives are excluded.

I continue to work now at 66, with a clear head and vitality. I am angry at the time I have spent seeing doctors and withdrawing from society due to low esteem and negative feelings. Angry is a little strong and just relieved that I have found relief without drugs/medication of any sort.

As with some of the other people who have written in, I found relief by my own experimentation. Dangerous, but I did it. And it worked. I have relayed my story to many people and doctors, and I would say most of them don’t really believe that this will work, and that is the problem. I understand that, because in my earlier days I would have thought the same.

Following my diet was very difficult with only a little change in the early stages (like the first week), and in the early days, I didn’t think it would work. Luckily I stuck to it. I try to impress people that the diet appears boring but in the end one’s sanity is the objective. It took me about two weeks for a reasonable and significant improvement, and two months for complete and total freedom from symptoms. – Ralph, by email

UPDATE at Fedup Roadshow 2011: ‘I have to give you an update. Originally I thought MSG was to blame, but now I realise it could have been any of the nasty additives and ingredients in processed foods.'

I had to email you to say THANK YOU for saving my sanity!

My 2 yr old was having some terrible behavioural problems, in the form of waking up either from her day sleep or night sleep in an absolute distraught state. She would be inconsolable and it would go on for nearly an hour until I could somehow ‘break’ it. I could never predict what mood she would wake up in and I dreaded it every day. I described her as being ‘locked in’ and I couldn't reach her. Her eyes would glaze over and nothing I did could snap her out of it.  All I could do was let her burn out. I knew something wasn't right because why should any child wake up in a tantrum?  But it was worse than a tantrum.

Thankfully I mentioned it to the right mums at playgroup who got me onto your book.  What an eye-opener!!!!  I think every mother should be discharged from hospital with their baby under one arm and your book under the other arm!

After educating myself with your book, I ransacked our pantry and threw away about 50% of what I had. I found the Vegeta seasoning I used nearly every night on our dinner was full of MSG. I found the cheesy rice crackers the girls were having every day were also full of MSG.  This was not good.

However, I finally pinpointed what it was that made her so volatile - amines!!!!  She was having bananas and grapes every day, some days she would even have two bananas.  I quickly banned these two foods and the difference in my child was amazing.  She now wakes up a happy child!  Recently I let my guard down and let her have bananas again and saw the effects after about 4-5 days of having one each day.  I even suspected she was having night terrors. And then I remembered the amines! After three days of no bananas, she was back to her usual self.

Thank you!  Thank you!  Thank you! – Pauline, QLD

What is amazing to me is that the researchers don’t seem to be aware that some preservatives and flavour enhancers can also give you asthma or make symptoms worse. I've experienced this first hand. I regularly consumed a so called healthy cereal every day that contained dried fruit which was laced with preservatives. My symptoms of breathlessness, sleep apnea, tachycardia, pins and needles, anxiety etc. kept getting worse. I ended up in casualty at the local hospital several times, but they could not discover the cause. I had heart checks, x-rays, stress tests and still no answers. Finally at a party one of the guests refused certain food and proceeded to tell me about her allergic reactions to food additives. As she was describing her reactions, I realised her symptoms were identical to mine. She told me about your website. I went home that night and threw out everything in my pantry with food additives and I slowly recovered. I'm very careful now, but eating out is a challenge and that is where I get caught out, even when I choose healthy options such as a salad or sandwich. At the airport I had a turkey and salad sandwich and within 20 minutes I was really struggling to breath - Miryana by email.

I have always suffered terrible, debilitating headaches/ migraines! After several brain scans the doctor recommended I take medications as a preventative measure, this would be a life long therapy. Not being keen I went armed with your books and stated I wished to try this failsafe diet first. My doctor supported my wishes with some skepticism. My success has been life changing! I have lost 8 kilos (not that I was looking towards this goal), no headaches until my salicylate challenge and a healthy and happy family all round. Thank you for your time and efforts. – Tania, QLd

My sister ate Thai food 3 days in a row (Fri, Sat, Sun). On Monday morning she had an itchy rash and face that looked like she had been hit (red, swollen, hive type rash). Over the next 4 days the rash only got worse. It moved from head to chest, to legs, all over her body – a different spot every day. Antihistamines had no effect. Eventually she went to the Emergency Department and a doctor thought "not food related" but a nurse suggested it might have been.

They prescribed a corticosteroid (I think) which began to make an impact. But reading the info on your website re ribo rash - it all made sense.  She has since noticed the rash on a smaller scale after eating CC's with 621 and 635. – by email, Vic [The 635 in Thai food can be in the soy sauce or fish sauce]

We've just finished a great 3 1/2 week driving holiday around Queensland (7000km with my hubby and my mum and dad - and we all survived thanks to FS food no doubt!).  We only went out for dinner twice and we all went failsafe for most of the holiday. We all commented on how good we felt for the whole holiday - none of that feeling of being sick of ‘bought’ food that we used to get and no crankiness or tummy upsets. It did require a bit of planning and pre-cooking and because we didn't have a freezer in the vehicles, we had to make sure to book self-contained cabins with a freezer and cooking facilities so that we could restock the esky every few days. Overall it worked really well but a little fridge/freezer unit in the car would have made life a lot easier. That'll be the next project for my hubby!

The trip was great - it would be fantastic if other people could pass on their experiences about how they maintain their diet when travelling - especially those going gluten-free. – Jodie, by email (send other failsafe holiday reports via This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

I have five children aged 1, 7, 8, 10 and 11. It was the behaviour of my 8 year old daughter which prompted me to try FAILSAFE. Since about the age of 2 this daughter has had what seemed like multiple daily tantrums – consistently over 10 per day.  Prior to this she was an extremely easy going toddler, but a reflux baby (as were all my children). She was so easy in fact that I used to call her my calming factor in the family and her daycare carer once described her as a little pot plant that you just placed in the corner, fed and watered her and watched her grow.

Earlier this year I reached a rather scary place where, even though I love my daughter to death, I often didn’t like being with her because the tantrums would start the moment she got up and seemed to go on until she finally went to sleep at night. I dreaded picking her up from school as it inevitably meant her storming out to me at the car and immediately complaining about something which soon resulted in constant sibling rivalry with my 7 year old daughter increasingly becoming
the victim of my 8 year old s assault. The entire household was on edge and her behaviour was extremely disruptive to all of us.

Over the years I have read several parenting books and tried many approaches: reward charts, time outs, consequences, firm approach, soft approach and nothing seemed to work. The bigger she grew the worse her tantrums became, reaching a climax earlier this year when she started to throw any item she could find at any of us. I should also add that over the years my daughter has developed several food aversions.

The turning point for me was when I saw her behaviour change before my eyes after eating food at a party. It suddenly dawned on me that perhaps the food she was eating was affecting her behaviour. That’s when I conducted some internet research and stumbled across your website. Despite my family eating what I would call a well balanced healthy diet, I was surprised to learn that there were still several healthy foods which could affect behaviour. The most fantastic thing about your website for people in my position was that I could download The Failsafe Booklet which provided me sufficient information to try the diet out without having to spend money on purchasing books upfront when I didn’t know if it would work or not. I started the whole family on Failsafe following this booklet to the best of my ability.

To my absolute surprise, within 24 hours I had a totally different daughter. After 2 weeks of no tantrums my husband was forced to agree that the diet made a huge difference also. I reclaimed my calm, happy and pleasant daughter which was very emotional for me because I had forgotten how sweet she could be. The entire household was calmer (mainly down to my 8 year old’s improvement but I did notice a slight improvement in behaviour in my other children in terms of
them being less irritable and more cooperative) and I not only looked forward to picking up my daughter from school again but she would actually skip out to the car and greet me nicely - what a transformation. Her teacher reported her concentration in class was better and the sibling rivalry was what I would call normal. At this point I purchased the books and DVD. The recipe book is fantastic and gave me a larger variety of meals and baking options to choose from, plus a much more detailed shopping list.

I have struggled to keep my family Failsafe, mainly due to time constraints, but there are a few dietary changes which have stuck. For example, I bake my own bread now, my 8 year old daughter drinks magic cordial instead of commercial cordial and uses 100% maple syrup on her toast instead of honey, peanut butter or vegemite/promite, and I purchase Failsafe grocery products whenever I can. She doesn’t consume much fruit as this is an area where she has developed several aversions over the years. Overall, we seem to have reached a happy balance whereby we are no longer 100% Failsafe but my daughter’s behaviour has improved immensely.

Thank you for your wonderful website and all the incredible insight into the world of additives.  I truly had no idea. – Nikki, by email

I am 60 and since March 2005 (4 years) have been avoiding salicylates and wholemeal bread to help with arthritis and back pain. I have noticed a really big improvement in the long term.  I no longer have pain or jangly nerves and no trouble with stairs. The pleasure is back into walking. When my back gets sore it doesn't seem to go into that spiral that it used to, laying me up for days. It complains a bit, but doesn't seize up anymore. I call it an anti-inflammatory effect.  Somehow the vicious circle seems to be interrupted.

I think keeping muscles strong is also very important for backs and health in general so I bought myself an electric bike (you have to pedal but you can turn on the oomph if you need it). That represented a big increase in activity as I did two very big hill climbs a couple of times a week over the summer. – Helen, by email

I wrote story 342 (Helpless, hopeless depression due to salicylates: I have suffered depression since at least age 15 and am 38 now …) five years ago when I was relatively new to Failsafe, about a year and a half in. It has taken me a long time to figure out all the finer points, and I'm probably still learning. But it's a journey back to myself. I am now not the same person I was even five years ago, discovering new parts to me all the time, as I take back control. The secret for me is to keep looking, recording what I eat, and asking questions.

When I have too much of the chemicals that I react to (I can tolerate a bit more of the three natural chemicals now) the following happens: amines make me angry, like ODD. Salicylates (now) make me vague and panicky, uptight with others, because I can't think straight. Glutamates make me cry, uncontrollably sad. Synthetic antioxidants make me very anxious, but it's a build up effect. I didn't realise this for a long time, as I very rarely have too much of things like take away hot chips, until a recent long holiday. I also suspect soy and dairy as having a build up effect on my mood, and must be totally gluten free. I only took out gluten about 1.5 years ago, as I still had some unexplained joint pain. Didn't realise it was connected with my moods, till I came off it and had severe withdrawals - headaches, depression, diarrhoea. On challenging it, I had severe depression, disconnection with reality, had trouble making my body respond to my brain, like I couldn't make a decision to move, and terrible anxiety. So even though I was doing very well on Failsafe and not gluten free, I'm doing even better off gluten. My body just doesn't want it back now, and I sure don't either! – by email, Vic

My eight-year-old daughter has been diagnosed with fructose intolerance and while we have seen a dietitian it seems that we have recently hit a brick wall and she is constantly getting tummy aches. I am exploring other causes at the moment but was wondering if you could give me any information about preservatives and spices (which I am suspicious of) that could help me manage her better.  The attitude I have had from doctors is here is the diagnosis good luck and seeya later, I really wonder how much they really know.  I am literally alone doing my own research and homework …

Three years on: Together with your help, our dietitian and the web, our daughter is growing, is a lot happier and not as sick as often. As well as fructose, we avoid flavour enhancers (MSG 621 and others) and suspect sulphites (220-228), salicylates and cheese are an issue for our daughter too. All in all we as a family are a lot happier, family and friends are now more understanding and accepting of our daughter and her food issues and we are constantly learning.  We have also learnt that the key is “listen to your body”. by email, SA.

I have 2 kids (2 and 4 yrs) with fructose malabsorption and my daughter has irritable behaviour and defiance from salicylates and amines so we are looking at a combination of low fructose and failsafe eating. – by email, VIC

I am still struggling a bit here trying to deal with fructose malabsorption and failsafe, plus other malabsorptions (raffinose and sorbitol) that mean I don't tolerate well any fruit, veges or legumes except for potato, celery and lettuce. If I increase my salicylates then I get anxiety and other symptoms. Basically pears, onions of any sort and leeks are on the banned list (as well as other veges and fruit) - which I have been eating a lot of ! This explains why I wasn't getting full results on failsafe eating. Jane, VIC

I have always suspected my period pain in the past was due to me eating all sorts of additives and high natural food chemicals. Since eating failsafe with my boys I NEVER get period pain anymore, however still very heavy periods. We need to keep in mind I had three children, which in itself can help, but the pain did return after my third (not as bad as previously) and then completely went away when I went failsafe (haven’t had pain for about six years now – no PMT either!!!). -  by email

My almost 15 year old daughter who has had monthly cramps but no period for 4 years suddenly got her period. We have been on the elimination diet for 3 weeks. Is this a coincidence?

It has taken 8 years for me to find out why certain foods made me so sick during my last pregnancy and still do! I had constantly complained to my GP that even the smell of cooking meat made me feel ill during pregnancy. If I touched anything with even a small amount of banana or avocado in it, I would be in bed for 24 hrs feeling like I was going to die. I also found chocolate, ice cream and coffee made me sick. My GP’s response: ‘that’s strange’! It wasn’t until last year when my 8 year old daughter became unwell, that it was all figured out. Initially she had a lymph node biopsy for lymphoma and then was tested for lupus and referred to a paediatric rheumatologist. It was through chance that my middle daughter who is lactose intolerant was referred to a dietician due to a flare up of her irritable bowel symptoms. I happened to discuss my eight year olds symptoms with the dietician as I was convinced there was something wrong with her gut that may have been causing all of her other symptoms and sure enough, after 4 weeks on an extremely restricted elimination diet, her symptoms disappeared. The dietician also informed me I have amine intolerance. I find it interesting that with my two other pregnancies I had no issues with foods at all and that the child I had after developing the symptoms myself ended up with such severe chemical intolerances that she was investigated for cancer and lupus. Sondra, by email

We only found out about "Fed Up With Food Additives" when Maternal & Child Health nurse suggested we look at a possible problem with food chemicals for our youngest child’s (14 months) eating disorder. However, now that I think about it, I was violently ill during my pregnancies after eating high salicylate foods - particularly broccoli, cucumber and citrus fruits – even the smell of these foods would make me queasy.

My IBS symptoms have cleared up since I have reduced the number of high salicylate foods in my diet (I was doing it for the kids so also have adjusted my husband's diet and my own).  I used to think I was doing the right thing by eating a huge fruit salad every day, and wondered why my digestive system was so messed up.  I have also suffered from a hives-like rash all over my thighs for the past few years and couldn't work it out - I now have long rash free periods after avoiding dried fruit as much as possible, as well as msg, yeast extract, 627, 635 etc.  We avoid additives as much as possible but occasionally I slip up and we really notice the effects now.

My 9 year old daughter seems to become very vague and forgetful with amines - especially cheese - and we have found our 3 year old son to react badly to glutamates - he becomes quite aggressive and uncontrollable.  The other thing we have noticed is the effect of colours - my daughter becomes very silly and hyperactive - for example, today she had a ‘slushie’ at the local shops that a family member bought for her - tonight she is jumping all over the house, falling off chairs, making silly noises and facial expressions etc.  But I'm sure you've heard all of this before!

I have found the effects on my kids particularly interesting, as when I was a child, I was unable to have food with MSG (I got severe migraines including vomiting) and red-coloured foods/cordial made me vomit badly.  Thank you so much for really making a difference to our lives. – Michelle by email

I suffered from terrible morning, afternoon and evening sickness when pregnant with my son (now 7). The only foods I could eat that didn't cause problems were cheese on toast, bananas and chocolate milkshakes.[these foods are all low in salicylates although not failsafe due to amines] We also had problems with breastfeeding - he would throw up most of what I fed him. Perhaps he was sensitive to salicylates passing through the breast milk. Needless to say we gave up on that after struggling for two months. (he was far happier on solids at 2 and a half months). Later down the track when trying to solve his behaviour and asthma issues, we tried (as a last resort) failsafe eating, and guess what? we are both sensitive to salicylates but not amines. If I'd known then what I know now... by email

I am 15 weeks pregnant with my fourth child and once again I've had a big problem with toothpaste and morning sickness. It was the worst with the first pregnancy, basically, I would feel a bit queasy before brushing and as soon as I cleaned my teeth I would throw up. As in the other pregnancies I've also gone off a lot of my favourite high salicylate foods and am completely unable to handle caffeine and chocolate (makes me very anxious and heart palpitations). – Julia

I have been failsafe now for 4 1/2 years and am very sensitive to salicylates, all of the artificial additives I have challenged, lactose, and especially amines. In my first two pregnancies I had strong cravings for cheese, cheese flavoured snacks, and cola soft drinks, I also had horrendous morning sickness (actually all day sickness for the whole pregnancy), and during the second pregnancy I was hospitalised for dehydration due to non-stop vomiting. By my third pregnancy I had become more aware of my lactose intolerance and did not touch any dairy products or cheese flavoured anything (by luck I stuck to failsafe soymilk), thereby unwittingly eliminating almost all amines from my diet and a lot of the additives I normally consumed. I was so well throughout the pregnancy, compared to the first two. I stumbled across the Fed-Up book when my youngest child was 12 months old and as we worked out our intolerances I slowly realised why I had had such terrible ‘morning’ sickness. Now that I am so much healthier it is almost tempting to conduct a Failsafe experiment and have another baby just to see what a completely Failsafe pregnancy would be like. However three is enough right now. – Jen, NSW

I have become pregnant unexpectedly. At 41 too, yikes! I think once I sorted out all my food issues somewhat, my fertility increased, whoops! Jane, by email [failsafe, gluten free, dairy free, and most recently reduced fructose]

Is pregnancy a side effect of going failsafe ? because that’s what happened to me. We had been trying for a while and had sort of given up. I never thought that changing my diet would help but I fell pregnant within a few months of going failsafe. – by email (failsafe but not gluten-free)

I attended one of your talks 12 months ago where you mentioned a link between coeliac disease and infertility. Since we have been trying unsuccessfully to get pregnant, I had a test for coeliacs and it was positive so I went gluten free and am now the very proud mother of a new baby. I just wanted to say thank you! – by email, Vic

I am a woman in my mid 40s and have been failsafe for 5 years or more. I notice I am starting to have a little more insomnia, and irritability, and some other symptoms which I attribute to peri-menopause. Thank you so much for your extra information about low fat diets for menopausal symptoms. It really makes sense. I know when I indulge in a big steak with potatoes, lots of butter and whole milk I get extreme breast tenderness the next day and feel warm all over. I will keep you posted, but I really think this could greatly help some of my symptoms.  6 months later: Thank you for your information regarding menopause, it seems to be working -   by email, U.S.

I recently had a case of cystitis (or urinary tract infection) - fairly mild but still uncomfortable.

I didn't want to try herbal remedies because I knew they weren't failsafe but in the end I did because I was so desperate!! "OUCH" is all I can say about the whole experience. None of the herbs or naturopathic remedies I tried did anything at all to help relieve the infection and as expected, a fresh herbal mixture from a naturopath made me feel terrible - fuzzy head and a terrible night's sleep with lots of weird dreams!

Luckily, after some frantic research, I found info on d-mannose and it was the only thing that finally worked for me. Once I got some of the powder, I started taking a dose every two hours for a few days and it gave me relief very quickly and cleared the problem within days. Having been an IBS sufferer (pre-Failsafe) I was worried I might get some adverse reactions from it but it didn't seem to bother my tummy.

I'm also staying well clear of the salicylates too. I definitely agree that they are a contributing factor (they really do cause their fair share of problems don't they!) – Jodie, by email

I have had painful bladder syndrome for over four years now. I have no damage to my bladder lining so in Australia it is not called Interstitial Cystitis but I have hypersensitivity of the bladder nerves which gives me constant bladder discomfort. Diet could not control completely so now I take Lyrica and Endep to calm the nerve pain. In the US this would fall under the general umbrella of Interstitial Cystitis (IC)

My symptoms presented after a series of bad UTI's. I started to get burning after wine and coffee: well known bladder irritants. But as time went on I started to react to many foods and my bladder became more and more hypersensitive. In the US a million people have IC and one of the methods of self management is diet. Many people control it this way without medication. Generally people eliminate coffee, wine, vitamins, spices and a lot of fruits and tomato. The clue for me was the awful reaction I had to blood thinners after surgery. Thinking I had another UTI. No it was a reaction to a huge dose of salicylates. It is interesting that common bladder irritants are all high in natural and in wine artificial chemicals especially salicylates. I am still struggling to fine tune the RPAH diet as the bladder reacts to many other things like hormones, sex, stress but generally the diet suggested as the 'rescue diet' for IC is pears, rice, chicken, milk and green beans all low chemical has always helped settle my symptoms. - by email

I had suffered repeated attacks of cystitis and infections which damaged my kidneys. ‘If you don’t take these antibiotics, you won’t live to be forty,’ my doctor had warned me, and talked about kidney transplants.The antibiotics made me feel sick all the time, didn’t prevent the attacks and probably set me up for irritable bowel symptoms later on. I stopped taking the medication, changed my diet and never had another attack. I had noticed that red wine and citrus seemed to cause my attacks although my doctors ignored this observation. ‘Your condition resembles analgesic abuse,’ commented one specialist. I had rarely taken painkillers but I had eaten a diet very high in salicylates which are part of the same family as aspirin. – from Fed Up by Sue Dengate

I have a nine-and-half-year-old daughter who has a day and night time bladder problem (urinary urgency) since the age of 3. I have seen all the specialists, psychologists, and natural helpers available. By the age of 8 she was, as it seemed, growing out of it. But after reading your book, Fed up, I linked it to preservatives, flavours and colours. Coincidently I was cutting down after our son had behavioural problems, and I heard you speak around that time. I took your advice and cut out the bread preservative first and then other things, but I didn't take salicylates seriously yet, especially with our daughter because she is so thin and a fussy eater. Her bladder problem seemed to creep back when Grandma was buying strawberries for her alone, as she knows our son could not have them.

Then when her brother was doing the salicylate challenge she was indulging in all these foods too, and of course her bladder problem is so evident now. – by email.

I am interested in the possible effects of sodium benzoate.  I note that this preservative is used in an aloe vera drink. When I increased my dose of the aloe vera drink, it was around the same time that I developed a case of candida. [Aloe vera contain salicylates, so it could be a combination of the salicylates in the drink drink as well as sodium benzoate preservative which is chemically very similar to salicylates.] -  by email

I have been wondering why I was regularly getting thrush despite being on a low salicylate diet. Then I challenged with a multivitamin I had been using until recently (not one recommended by RPA) and it gave me thrush immediately. – Lea, NSW

My kids (3-year-old and 15-month-old) get thrush as a sals reaction … Many thanks for all of your work.  I just can’t thank you enough for the difference in my kids – M from NZ

When my son had a nasty chest infection/bronchitis I gave him crushed up Panamax paracetamol 4-hourly for a couple of days, as well as the inners of amoxil capsules.

A couple of days later, his behaviour was absolutely shocking and it culminated in him having a night terror one evening, the most severe one he has had since being failsafe since last September.

I knew something was going on, and I decided to check up about Panamax – and discovered it has potassium sorbate (202) in it. We have not yet done any challenges on additives as we already avoid dairy and salicylates, so decided to pretty much stay additive-free. However, we do seem to be okay with moderate amounts of pure MSG and amines.

I strongly suspect that his behaviour and night terror were induced by the preservative 202. What angers me more is that I was completely unaware of the existence of the preservative in this product, due to the lack of these medicine companies having to label their products. Our kids are already sick when we need to give these drugs to them, and they need to get better, but how can they when their body is also trying to fight against an artificial preservative?

Even when I asked at the chemist for a preservative-free paracetamol, they were not able to tell me what was in the products they sold. If only we could have good information about what is in these medical items, ie. through labelling. I don’t accept the excuse that there isn’t enough room on the packaging – if a box of soap can list its numerous chemical ingredients, so should a box of pain relief or any other medicine.

Please use our experience in your endeavours to fight for better information labelling on medicines – it’s our kid’s future. – Joanne, Vic

Update: this reader was using an old box of Panamax. The formulation hasn’t changed but the labelling has: Panamax boxes now list potassium sorbate on the label. For young children, ask for our recipe for additive-free children’s paracetamol. (We would like to hear any other reports of reactions to sorbates – email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.)

See also [1221] 202: Night terrors and sleep disturbance in a senior related to potassium sorbate preservative? (August 2013)

I too had a reaction to Panadol branded paracetamol, which occurred after taking it for multiple days. I know that I react to sorbates so made the presumption that this was what I was reacting to in the Panadol. - Ruth (June 2016)

On August 27 2008 we emailed you some information following concern about the ingredients of a certain brand of fluoride tablets 0.25mg. Our daughter, now 6 yrs, has been taking this particular brand of fluoride tablets for the past two years or more, following a recommendation by our dentist. Please note that our daughter has always had good healthy teeth and was only recommended them since we live in an area that has a non-fluoridated town water supply. The tablets by the way were sold by the same dental surgery.

We have been involved with your network for some time now, whilst trying to overcome our daughter’s intolerance to the numerous additives found in foods and other products. Although we have worked with a dietician and followed all the recommended advice in relation to elimination diets and food challenges, we never seemed to achieve the results we hoped for.

It was only a fortnight ago that it occurred to us to check the ingredients of the fluoride tablets. There was no information on the actual bottle and no information available on the manufacturer's website, so I called their Consumer Information Service. I requested they forward a list of ingredients to me, to which they promptly refused, stating such details were confidential for ‘proprietary reasons’. Only through sheer persistence was I able to get the ingredients list ... it was not sent to me, it was read out over the phone.

I was initially given the colouring agent as CI 15985. I complained that this number was used within the industry but not widely known by consumers. They reluctantly told me CI 15985 was also known as FD&C yellow. Further prompting was required to get the equivalent term Sunset yellow. Finally they told me Food additive 110 is also another name for it.

We can see we had been making a huge mistake and stopped the tablets immediately. Over the past two weeks we have seen our daughter’s behaviour and learning abilities progressively improve to the point where she is a different little girl; happier, more co-operative and less oppositional.

We are now very angry that we mistakenly trusted a recommended pharmaceutical product that effectively has contributed to diminishing our daughter’s general well being.

Since the launch of the Kids First Campaign calling for the phasing out of additives such as 110, I was curious to find out if I could get the same information from the manufacturer and called their Consumer Information Service once again.

This time I was not so successful. I asked the representative where I could find information about the tablets on their website. I was pointed to another website which listed the product (copy of page supplied) but still no declaration of ingredients. When questioned, she replied that the tablets do not contain sugar or alcohol. I told them I needed a full list of ingredients to be emailed to me. Only after much persistence and placing me on hold to check with her ‘colleague’, did she take my email address, agreeing to forward the information I had asked for.

She also asked me for a contact number should the need arise. Sure enough, about two hours later I received a call from the representative, informing me that she had since been advised by her ‘supervisor’ she was not allowed to send the information after all.

Next I asked to speak to her supervisor. I asked the supervisor why the representative was told not to send the information after saying that she would. The supervisor replied "oh she's just new here and didn't know." The supervisor went on to say that their product is listed with the Therapeutic Goods Administration and they are not required by legislation to reveal the ingredients. After pursuing that matter further with her I was informed the only way to get the information is to go to a GP or a registered health professional who can then request the information from the manufacturer direct. She informed me that our GP could request the information by writing to her (the supervisor).

Despite the fact that we were able to source the ingredients in the first instance and have since stopped using the tablets, there is an underlying major issue that clearly needs addressing. As parents we are continually battling to find out the necessary information about such additives and preservatives to ensure the health and well being of our children, only to find that manufacturers hide behind terms such as ‘proprietary information’ or ‘trade secret’. I hope you find this information equally disturbing. I would like to know what we can do to evoke change in the regulations around the labelling of food and medicines. – Darren, Vic

I work in an operating theatre. One day last week we had a few kids on the list and I asked what the awful smell was. The result after process of elimination was, it was the oxygen masks. It seems that the kid size oxygen masks now come scented. I'm referring to the masks they hold over the face as the patient is going to sleep. I asked why they are scented and apparently it's supposed to be less stressful for the kid if it can smell something nice.

SO, to the parents of kids that are sensitive to smells, make sure you ask the anaesthetist about the masks if your child needs an operation. I don't know if we've still got unscented ones, I couldn't find any (but that doesn't mean anything). I made a point of letting them know it could cause major issues for kids with problems and all I could get as a response was, "but it's non allergenic". AARRGGGHHHH!!  We've got cherry and strawberry, which don't really smell like they should. - Jane, by email (Like the fruit they represent, strong fruit flavoured perfumes will be high in salicylates).

I am a 43 mother and have done the RPA elim diet. I have Colitis that was triggered by a single episode of food poisoning ten years ago. It took a long time to get a diagnosis of microscopic colitis. For a long time I was told that it was irritable bowel. Finally a colonoscopy and biopsy showed it - a very under-diagnosed condition. My big 3 "no-no's" are: annatto 160b, synthetic antioxidants such as BHA 320, and sorbates.  All of those cause cramping and diarrhoea. – Kate, by email

I have a 6 year old son who I already knew was intolerant to some foods. He has periods of eczema (which we have been able to control with his diet) and we have avoided these things for years. Luckily, because he was basically born with eczema, I had been very careful about introducing foods. I started giving him crumpets for breakfast when he was 2. He would be fine after eating them, however when he woke from his sleep he would be screaming and hitting me, very violent and uncontrollable. I initially thought it was hunger, as I found that when I gave him something to eat he would calm down. Anyway, to cut a long story short. I found out about preservative 282 and cut it out completely. He was normal again!!

On and off over the years I discovered other things that affected him, so I added those to my list of things to avoid. A few months ago we went over to Europe. When we came back he went back to school and started getting very clingy, crying and not being able to read or write properly and was not able to concentrate. I have had trouble with these symptoms on and off over the 1½ years. I mentioned this to my friend, she gave me your book and I started an additive free diet.

After about 1 week everything had improved dramatically. I waited about 4 weeks before I introduced additives, one a time … He reacted to 202 (potassium sorbate) in a drink of juice by crying and becoming clingy. He had it at dinner time, then had trouble getting to sleep. The next day he was very sensitive and cried a lot and hid in his room when our visitors arrived and would not come out until they had been there for several hours. He got better after he had his lunch (which he ate by himself in his room). He then came out, but didn’t talk much and sat right next to me. He only had it the once, as I did not want to make the situation worse. He can drink fresh juice with no problem. - Michelle by email

"I thought I would let you know that one of the dietitians recommended on the list you kindly mailed me was extremely helpful and was exactly the help I needed with the elimination diet I had begun. I cannot recommend her highly enough. I think it is too difficult to complete an elimination diet with just an outline of the diet from the doctor (as it was in my case) as your only guide" - Donna, Qld

"Failsafe (in a nut shell) saved our daughter and family! Thank you for the change in our family and quality of life for our daughter!!!!  It means so much to have people like you out there!!!" – Angie, USA.

"We have been following failsafe since November last year and the changes have been wonderful. If there is an occasional slip-up then we know about it! My son doesn't have violent tantrums any more. He still gets upset over things, but we can reason with him and he calms down quickly. My daughter doesn't wet the bed unless she has salicylates so we can minimise that." - Alison, NSW.

"Your work is very admirable and I personally thank you for educating me about food and their effects on our health / behaviour. You both deserve an award for what you do!" - Kelly, QLD is this one too many Your work type comments?

“It's of comfort (and inspiring) for me to know there are others doing FS, GF, DF and low fructose” – by email - see our new fructose malabsorption factsheet

“Regarding chemicals not food: my son had an allergic reaction to the current Auskick brown and yellow striped socks. I forgot to wash the socks before he wore them (as recommended by the manufacturer). He got hives on his feet and ankles” – Lara, by email

“Your books and the Failsafe Network are huge lifelines for me with my 2 year old daughter who has IBS reactions to a wide range of foods and food chemicals” - Janelle by email

Thank you so very much for doing all you do. You have improved my family’s life immensely. My 5 yo son is now at school, and if I hadn’t found failsafe when I did last year, I’m sure that he would have been in the principal’s office on a regular basis for behavioural problems. He had spent three terms of kinder year not making a single friend at kinder, and having anxiety about going there, not to mention the tantrums he threw while he was there. After failsafe kicked in, he loved going and started to make a couple of friends.  He is at the end of his second term at school, and has done so well, made a number of good friends, has learned heaps and - has never been sent to the principal’s office!! There is still a way to go in educating the teachers in schools, but I am taking this one day at a time. - Joanne, Vic

Just a quick note to say thanks! I react very badly to any synthetic style fragrances and hubby refuses to use a roll on. My pharmacy ordered in the QV unscented spray deodorant you recommended and fussy hubby has used it no problems. I also bought the Schick sensitive shave gel (unscented) that was mentioned in the newsletter (Big W stocks it). No more headaches, watery eyes and sneezing for me in the morning now. WooHoo! – Danielle, by email

I do wonder if what mainstream media call the epidemic of depression is in fact an epidemic of food intolerances/sensitivities (or if I want to be more inflammatory, the poisoning of modern mankind!)  And ADHD?  I can only assume that a large proportion of children diagnosed with this in fact have the same kind of intolerances as our daughter.

When our 9 year old has consumed nitrates or other preservatives she becomes what I could only describe as deeply depressed, highly irritable, intolerant to noise and these days, self destructive. Any errors we have made in food the last months have led to her to:

- Attempt to jump off a balcony
- Scratch her nails deeply into her legs
- Bang her head on the refrigerator
- Threaten to kill her self.

No one who knows this child at school would believe that this is what we endure at home when she accidentally gets the wrong ingredients. Interestingly she will hold onto this behaviour at school and explode with it at home, if her diet has a hiccup earlier in the day.

Failsafers will know the rest of that story - tuck shop is off limits, birthday parties are a no no, all the other children in the family complain about the items (ice cream) that they can no longer have.  - Amanda, by email

We had our first run in with ribo rash last week.  My husband and I were both running late to get home and my mother in law had collected all the kids and was minding them until we got home. She was going out but needed dinner before she left so we decided to break our additive-free diet [for children's behaviour] that night and purchase takeaway chicken from a chain for dinner.  We knew there would be consequences because of flavourings in the chicken, antioxidants in the oil for the chips, not to mention the flavour enhancers that would surely be there. We woke the next morning to no behavioural reactions at all but later that day my eldest son, the most sensitive of all, broke out in a rash on the backs of his hands, backs of his knees, his face and up his arms. My 2 year old daughter broke out in large blisters like chickenpox and my other two sons both broke out in what looked like heat rash. It didn't even occur to me what could have caused that reaction until several days later, the day after I had spent a wasted appointment with our doctor who said the rashes didn't look like anything and not to worry.  My eldest son still has the rash a week later although my other kids' rashes have slowly resolved.  It makes sense as he is the most sensitive.

I rang the outlet to find out about 635 but they said they would have to research it for me and get back to me but I'm pretty sure that would have been the culprit. We will not eat there again, no matter how strapped for time we are! - by email, Qld

I have attached a photo of this rash that I developed over the period of a week. It started on my arms and legs first and gradually took over my whole body.  A friend had seen this rash on your website and asked me what different food had I eaten lately, and I realised I had been eating cheese flavoured rice crackers for 5-7 days previously.  I had been on phenergan and antibiotic injections as well as cortisone to try to reduce the rash, as I am a diabetic. However after stopping the rice crackers and anything else with possible flavour enhancers (my husband went through the pantry!!!!!! and removed all products with 635), the rash SLOWLY disappeared. - by email, NT

My six-year-old son Noah’s problems were moodiness, irritability, not really being there, and for years the white face and no energy that you described in your book. My husband and I did not know why Noah was going down the path of these mood swings and this year at school he just could not comply with what was expected of him. About two months ago I was handed a copy of your book Fed up and it was such a relief to think we may have found the answer.  It is plain to see that Noah must stick to a low salicylate diet cutting out all the naughty numbers.

Unfortunately over the last few weeks with Xmas, we let the diet slip, and we now see the effects. Back on to the good food now for the entire family, and hopefully a good year for Noah at school.

I just had to write a quick note to say thank you - the work you do is so good and so important. I tell anyone who will listen about this information, it must be spread around for people to be aware of, mums and dads and teachers.  – by email, NSW

My 7yo son suffered from asthma, and my 5yo daughter was borderline ODD, complete with sneaky poos, bedwetting - the whole rack of symptoms.  We removed preservatives and colours from their diet with fantastic results - mainly from the removal of propionates and sulphites. I noticed, though, that my daughter's behaviour seemed to deteriorate when she had certain foods such as vegemite, soy sauce etc.

We did not do the elimination diet correctly the first time. We made the usual mistakes - not enough commitment, cheating, coming off it too quickly – and were misdirected in our conclusions - thought salicylates were fine and amines were the baddies. We decided to put our daughter back on the elimination diet after she failed to improve when we removed amines.

This time we are 100% committed and the results are clear. Our daughter was fine the first day of the salicylate challenge, a bit iffy the second, and by day 3 she was back to pre-diet days, even resorting to deliberately (in front of me) urinating on the lounge room floor.  Add to this a constant headache, tummy pains and a small rash on both legs. I promptly cleaned out the fridge, and removed all salicylates from the house. Two days on and we are gradually improving, but what a shock!

An even bigger shock was my son's reaction. He was always 'the good one' and didn't seem to have any behavioural issues apart from asthma, which has improved greatly since we removed additives from their diet. By the end of the second day, he had stolen a can of coke from the fridge (dad's stock - banned for our kids) and drank it outside when he thought I couldn't see.  Screaming, shouting, fighting, defiance - completely unexpected from him.  Two days on and he is quite remorseful - and determined to stay away from 'those foods'.  He has also woken up today with big black rings under his eyes, and a wet bed.  No coincidence, I think.

I never imagined that food chemicals could have such a significant effect on health and behaviour. My daughter starts school next year, and we can now look forward to a future with more enthusiasm and positivity than we did 3 months ago.  – by email, NSW

I started the elimination diet with my daughter two weeks ago and for the first time in I can’t remember how long her eczema has finally settled down and she is so much calmer and happier.  My husband and I are just so thrilled with the results we have got in such a short space of time.

3 months later: my daughter is fantastic, the diet has been a huge success for us and I honestly can’t share it with enough people. I was just looking back at photos of her the other day and I couldn’t believe how bad her eczema was, in the recent photos there was none at all. We now know that salicylates are a real problem. Additives seem to have an impact as well but I am happy that they are no longer part of her diet and never will be.

Since our success a number of our friends and acquaintances that have tried it with the same results. As far as I am concerned the more people who know about this the better. Before reading your book I honestly had no idea of the real effect food had on us.- Abi, by email

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