I can't thank you enough for your website, for bringing this important information to public awareness. I am an Australian currently living overseas, mother of 2, expecting again. My 3-year-old has always been a 'difficult' child, with some days better or worse than other. In recent times her oppositional behaviour escalated so much that I was on the brink of a nervous breakdown. She was screaming non-stop, day and night, always looking to fight me on every little thing. I just didn't know what to do with her anymore. I have always been a firm believer that when something is wrong, look at diet first. But I didn't know what the problem was exactly. I searched high and low for info, until I found your website. What a Godsend! A simple thing like eliminating oranges from her diet has reduced her symptoms significantly. She is almost sleeping through the night. I am new to this, and still have a lot of reading and learning to do, but you give me hope. Thank you! – by email

About 5 years ago I started getting severe skin rash / hives and after a year of investigations (blood tests, strip tests and food diaries) by the Immunology Department at Kings College Hospital in London, it was suggested that I maybe allergic to white flour; though this couldn't be proved. The only medical evidence that the professionals could prove was that I was of an 'allergen type' and had proven allergies to grass/tree pollen, dust, and cat hair. They provided me with medication that is normally used to treat ulcers and reflux (ranitidine, Zantac), to use in emergencies, as it would help to switch off histamine receptors in the body that are working overtime to get rid of the allergy.

For the last 5 years I've avoided white flour, which resulted in a lot of weight loss and I never had the severe skin reactions again. Although I would always get the odd marking and often have irritable bowels very quickly after eating some food, I put this down to there being white flour in some ingredients from time to time and just put up with it.

Last night I had a return of the severe skin reaction that I've not had for years, which began to cover my arms, neck and groin - exactly as it had 5 years ago. Having being in the USA for three weeks I had not been eating any foods with additives, as my cousin who I was staying with, is allergic to MSG. I can only assume that on returning to the UK and suddenly eating foods with these additives, that my body reacted so quickly and that I had previously been reacting to the E635 in the foods and not the white flour.

I'm more shocked that every story and photo on your website relates to me, and to what I thought was a white flour allergy. If only I'd have been able to show this evidence to my doctor five years ago!

The product that I ate before the onset of the rash was Knorr Chicken Stock granules, which contained E635 and I have since discarded soy sauce and Oxo cubes, which were the only other things in my kitchen to contain those additives.

I'm now going to actively avoid the ribonucleotide flavour enhancers you list and see if I can eat white flour products, as long as they're not filled with additives. It's as if someone has just switched the lights back on and just wanted to say thankyou, as well as sharing my relief that I am not alone with my allergy, as I had long thought I was.

Six weeks later: The rash came back a couple of times, until I cut out every type of food that was manufactured, so anything with E numbers, flavourings etc. Since then I've not been ill at all and have introduced foods that have additives but avoided anything with any flavourings at all, so thus avoiding MSG and other E600 numbers. This seems to work well for me. I tried the white flour test [plain water crackers and pasta] and was fine, I even tried cakes, pastries and fresh white bread that didn't have any flavourings and was fine.

By the way for UK sufferers nearly all food in Marks & Spencer food halls is additive, colour and flavouring free and amazingly detailed labelling, so many things don't have to be cut out if you shop there.

Thanks for your interest and helping me solve a 5 year nightmare! – Mark, UK

Thank you so much for your factsheet on food additive 635! I have numerous food sensitivities and am very careful to avoid MSG in particular as it causes a more severe case of hives than most others. I live in the United States, and it's extremely difficult to find packaged foods that DON'T contain MSG here.

My parents live in Tasmania, and my mom went out of her way to find a French onion soup mix to send me that didn't contain MSG, since I couldn't find one here. I used it to make dip last week, and by the next morning I had dozens of patches of hives all over my body. Since it was the only thing I'd eaten the previous day that was different, I double checked the soup mix packet and saw "flavour enhancer 635". I'm out of touch with Australian food labelling after being gone for 11
years, so I wondered if this was actually MSG. When I pulled up your fact sheet, I was surprised to find that it wasn't MSG, but now I know that I need to be careful of ribonucleotides also!

For the last year and a half, I've been avoiding MSG almost entirely - I'll occasionally take a calculated risk and allow myself some flavoured chips or ranch salad dressing. My most recent bout of hives was the 635 reaction, which began about 8 days ago, within 12 hours of eating the soup mix. Today is the first day they've been completely gone since then. The hives appeared in all my usual places - fingers, hands, arms, chest, neck, back, stomach and face. The reaction was definitely more severe than my usual MSG reaction - more/bigger patches of hives, more intense itching, longer lasting, resistant to my triamcinolone ointment, and faster to appear. Normally, I could eat a single-serve bag of flavoured corn chips (such as Doritos) and it would take 24-36 hours for a reaction to occur, and most often only the backs of my hands, fingers, and face reacting. The hives would usually go away within 2-3 days unless I had an additional dose of MSG. Thank you for helping me to identify more items to add to my "do not eat" list! – Wendy, USA

My step-sister is 3 years old, and by god she is a ratty child! Her language skills are very under-developed for someone her age, and she very rarely does what she is told. She is extremely loud and boisterous, cannot sit still or quietly, is very destructive, swears, yells, screams, and cannot play nicely with other children as she is very rough. A clean room can quite easily become a disaster zone within minutes. We have given up cleaning her room, as she pulls clothes and toys out as soon as we have finished. She is also up to 10-11 o’clock at night.

She often dances and sings and often makes references to people's private parts as well as other embarrassing things, and we have cause to believe that these actions are done for attention (even though it is the wrong kind of attention).

I have cause to believe that food additives have a strong part to play in this due to her lax diet. She is spoilt and gets what she wants, from chips, lollies, chocolates, ice creams, and soft drinks. She has quite a lot of milos everyday, I once counted 4 in one morning! If she is not drinking milo, she is having soft drink, cordial or juice. She very rarely eats any un-processed foods or drinks any water.

Our dinner times are healthy, generally consisting of vegetables, a salad and some source of meat, or sometimes spaghetti bolognaise. She refuses to eat any of it, and shortly after dinner demands some kind of snack-type food.

My mother is finding her daughter’s behaviour extremely unbearable, even becoming embarrassed to take her out in public. My mum’s struggle to keep her sanity has increased since recently giving birth, making it extremely difficult to look after the baby and put up with my sister.

I need your advice to convince my parents that my sister’s diet is not ok, and drastic changes are needed. – by email from a teenager who wins a copy of our DVD Fed Up with Children’s Behaviour. Here’s hoping it will help with the family situation.

Your book and your website have saved us the agony of months (perhaps years) of trial and error. Our beautiful 8-year-old is back to normal after a year in the wilderness where we wondered if she was depressed, had an eating disorder or a mood disorder.  I am certain that you have heard this story a hundred times over. – by email, Qld

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

My partner is pregnant at the moment, and we worked out that what gives her morning sickness is foods high in amines. It’s amazing hey, how at important times (or when very little) our bodies are capable of sending us clear signals that say "This is poison. No more please"... it's even more amazing that people seem so unbelievably blind to these signals.- By email (we would like to hear from anyone else who has seen a link between food intolerance and morning sickness:
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.)

Our allergist said there are billions of dust mites living in the mattress and vacuuming it is like ‘taking a bucket of water out of the sea’. I highly recommend the Allergend all cotton anti-dust mite mattress, pillow and doona covers. Using these helped my four kids a lot.' - Heidi from the failsafe eczema group

I recently saw the dietitian who entered my son’s typical daily diet into a computer program - it turned out that he is getting very adequate nutrients in his diet except for calcium which was quite low. However, he is now enjoying rice milk and I add calcium powder to milkshakes so I am not concerned about his nutrition. – Louise, Qld

"I have been living with Sue's Failsafe Cookbook for the last 18 months and it has changed my two-and-half -year-old's happiness in his daily life. His eczema on his face, arms and legs went a few days after stopping salicylate and amine laden foods. I stumbled on the book by accident in my shopping centre as I was on the look out for anything that could help with my son's symptoms. Thanks to both of you for your work" - Jane by email.

Our children have been failsafe (with a few slip ups) since Jan 2008. To make it brief, remarkable change, still work to be done a few mistakes still being made by me however. An example of change, our pediatric neurologist doesn't feel the need to medicate our son as previously thought and doesn't need to see him anymore due to your diet. He congratulated us on our efforts and to my shock he said 'make sure I look at his amines and wheat!' - Leesha, Qld by email.

Some months ago I started eating Weight Watchers meals at lunchtime on week days as a change from sandwiches and thinking they were healthier than bread. My favourites were the lasagna and spaghetti and meatballs. During that time I saw my doctor and had an ECG done because I was getting chronic heart/chest pains.

After a couple of months the pains went away and I’ve not had them again until yesterday when I ate a WW Lasagne meal for the first time in months. The last time was when I was having chest pains. Yesterday the chest pains came back very badly. Today I’m better but still a bit sore. When I looked up the ingredients, I found 627 and 631 amongst other things can cause chest pains. It’s very scary that this is what it was – they must put a bucketload of the stuff in there because I had not had the chest pains before I had the WW Meals. I honestly did think I was having a heart attack, the pain was incredible. – Caroline, by email

My 14-year-old son has Aspergers syndrome. He experiences arrhythmia and severe heart palpitations every time he consumes any additives 211, 282, 220 etc. If he has been free from these additives for over two weeks then he will get away with the first exposure and then it accumulates and gets worse. We saw a heart specialist and he found no problems, just blaming it on anxiety. He also gets more aggressive and violent once it accumulates... like Jekyll and Hyde. Sadly it is so hard to convince and be believed by doctors and his psychiatrist that these additives affect him. – Therese, by email

•     My son is on the elimination diet and last week he had a MAJOR reaction to [a natural treatment] which I'd left on overnight.  I was really stupid and thought I'd done the right thing by avoiding a traditional chemical headlice treatment - instead opted for this natural treatment (1% lavender, >10% teatree oil, benzyl alcohol 0.5% ethanol 20%) - obviously he won't do well when I challenge salicylates! - failsafe mother by email 
•     I got a call from the principal at 10 o'clock saying he'd have to be taken home to have his hair debugged - my fault. I had suspected the bugs but I didn't want to put anything on his hair while we were doing the diet. I had no choice. I picked him up at 1pm and washed his hair with [a natural treatment not the same as above] - containing 10mg/g melaleuca alternifolia - or teatree - oil. I returned him to school at 2pm. When I picked him up at 3.30pm, he seemed fine, but certainly not calm. At storytime/bedtime he was acting really silly and I asked him twice to stop before I gave up and left the room. He then had a tantrum with tears. - failsafe father, NSW
•     I had to delay the challenge as they got nits a couple weeks back and had to be treated ... well ... didn't those chemicals send my kids haywire!  It took 4 days for the meltdowns to stop, extreme ODD for around 72 hours! - failsafe mother, by email

I first noticed something was not right when I was 18 years old. Mum had brought a Chinese meal home for the family to share.  Within 30 mins of finishing the meal my breathing began to get laboured and I started to sweat.  My nose blocked up and I felt like I was suffocating.  I thought I had a reaction to MSG and decided to leave it at that. I didn't tell mum as I decided I would just not eat from that shop again.

I would often get the same reaction if I went to a restaurant so for the next 16 years I always thought I got food poisoning easily and avoided restaurants and Chinese food.

About four years ago we ate a fish and anchovy meal at the home of some friends. Around 2am in the morning I started going incredibly hot, sweaty, fast heartbeat and felt like I was suffocating.  I couldn't breath but did not link it to asthma. I had diarrhoea but no vomiting. No nausea. I had no idea what was wrong with me. I thought it was bad food poisoning due to the fish. I thought I was going to die. It was that severe. I struggled until 4am when I thought I should call an ambulance. I got out of bed and almost collapsed. I was dizzy, seeing flying shapes and hallucinating. I took some antihistamine because my husband said it was more like an allergic reaction and 45 mins later I started to improve slightly so I did not call the ambulance.

I was 34 years old then. I didn't eat out for the next four years and told all my friends "I get food poisoning easily". Earlier this year I decided to see an allergist as I was convinced I was allergic to fish – as similar reactions have happened when I have eaten anchovies - and wanted to be able to eat out again.  Skin testing showed hayfever but no fish or food allergies.  The allergist mentioned sulphite intolerance to me and when he presented a list of the foods that commonly have sulphites in them, it all came together.  Suddenly, everything that I thought gave me irritable bowel had sulphites in them.

I knew that certain mueslis, all sausages and dried fruits made me very sick. I could never drink wine because it always left me with a heavy chest, flushing and I would feel every breath was an effort. Always diarrhoea and asthma and stomach cramps. I never linked the asthma to the sulphites. I always thought it was coincidental. Sometimes I'd get a rash. I know now the worst foods for me are sausages (instant stomach cramps, diarrhoea), wine, cold meats, certain mueslis with dried fruit. I have eliminated all sulphites from my diet since March 2008. I am now off my asthma preventer and feel great. I know now I can tolerate a small amount of sulphite, like in Vegemite but if I cross a threshold (particularly restaurant meals) I suffer terribly. I am too scared to eat out again. I have since taken my 10-year-old son off all sulphites and it's no surprise his asthma has improved considerably.- Yvette, NSW

I'm writing from the U.S. and have ventricular arrhythmia with sulfites. The point of this letter is to pass on another major source of sulfur poisoning. In the U.S. at least, the first major step in processing corn is to soak it in warm water for 48 hours to reconstitute it. To retard or eliminate bacteria growth in this process sulfur dioxide is added to the water. When the corn is processed into its hundreds of forms, this sulfur becomes concentrated and is a problem for sulfur intolerant folks like me. For twenty years I avoided commercial corn products totally, yet every year I would try my father-in-law’s organic sweet corn fresh from the farm and never had a reaction. Upon learning about the chemical contamination of processed corn, I began to experiment and it turned out that I can tolerate organically grown and processed corn but the commercial stuff is poison for me. – by email

Two years ago I became ill in the same manner as the ladies in story [641] 220: Two reports of sore throat and cold-like symptoms due to fruit cake May 2008. I had major headaches, sore throat, swollen glands, and then the side of my face began to swell. At first, I thought it was an insect bite and that I had a slight cold at the same time. But each day, my face was more swollen and my eye was barely opened. The doctor gave me antibiotics as he thought it was infected sinuses. It slowly got better, but at the time I was having dried fruit and white wine. My problems started again at Xmas time with a slice of plum pudding - home made from packaged dried fruit - and a glass of wine with lunch. I worked out myself that it was the sulphites and avoided them as best I could. Months later I had a problem with my teeth and X-rays showed I had two abscesses. The sulphites had been making such a reaction with the abcesses that my face had completely blown up.  I have had the teeth fixed but still have problems with my throat if I touch these chemicals. – Carol by email

I've always enjoyed the occasional glass of - maybe 1 or 2 a week on average. About two years ago we joined a mail order wine club and now I have up to six glasses per week, not a huge amount but it's three to six times what I used to have. The wine club has been really enjoyable for us but for well over 12 months I've had a mild mucous forming cough every morning sometimes lasting all day. I've been to the doctor and it's 'nothing'.

In the last failsafe newsletter there was a bit about sulphites and asthma which I basically skipped over because I don't get asthma. But a little later into the evening a light came on in my head. 220 in wine is sulphites, so I went to the best website in the world called the food intolerance network- yay for it - and looked up the sulphite connection with asthma. I now think my cough may be a mild asthma type response and I've noticed a slight wheeziness occasionally. I went off any food
containing sulphites for one week and guess what? No cough for that time. I still love my wine with dinner and cutting down has seemed to lessen the problem. – Leanne

Ever since I became pregnant with my first child 13 yrs ago, I have reacted to 220 sulphites.  Especially in red wine, well actually any wine and a range of alcoholic drinks.  Within half an hour I start sneezing heavily as if I am developing a cold.  My throat then feels sore and my face reddens and becomes puffy.  I have also linked 220 to eczema, which I have struggled with all my life. After refraining from 220, my incurable eczema vanished almost completely with in days. Beware though!  I have switched to preservative free wines. Happs is fine but some of the others which claim to be preservative-free still affect me. Reading the labels more closely, some only claim to have NO PRESERVATIVES ADDED. These wines still make me react. - Jenny, NSW

For years I have been trying to figure out what causes my rapid heart beats after eating sometimes. Three weeks ago I ended up being taken to hospital by ambulance with a heart rate of 150 bpm. I had eaten a cheese and tomato sandwich for lunch. I know for a fact the bread has no preservatives in it. I spent a few hours in ER but they were unable to tell me why this happened, heart rate went down and I went home. It has happened with various types of food, never the same thing. This has happened a lot over the years and answers I get from doctors is something like this - "If you eat a spicy meal it can increase your heart rate". That makes me feel like screaming 'Listen stupid I did not eat a spicy meal". The other symptom I get is increased ectopic beats. From now on I am going to keep a diary of food eaten and symptoms …

Three months later … I had two more trips to hospital with major irregular heartbeats, even the ambos were concerned. No joy from any of the docs as to what caused it all. I went to see my GP who I think has hit the nail on the head. He mentioned that coffee and chocolate could be responsible for causing both rapid and irregular beats. Chocolate seems to be my cause. He explained that it’s not just the caffeine in chocolate but the chemical that kills dogs if they eat chocolate. I told him that I had recently changed to dark chocolate because it was promoted as being heart healthy. He replied "that’s the worse of all". I did not think of chocolate because I would have no problems until 3 or 4 hours after eating it and I'm not talking about eating huge amounts, just 2 or 3 squares. I have since stayed away from anything chocolate and seem to be fine. My GP also told me that caffeine could raise blood pressure which in turn causes rapid heartbeats. If I do feel like a coffee I drink decaf. Not one person that I have told knew that chocolate could cause major irregular heartbeats. – Sally, by email

[Caffeine in coffee and theobromine in chocolate are natural food chemicals called methylxanthines. Dark chocolate contains about ten times more theobromine than milk chocolate. It is well known that chocolate can kill dogs but less well known that humans are also susceptible to chocolate poisoning if enough is consumed. The toxic dose for methylxanthines for dogs is about 150 mg per kilogram of body weight but as with other food chemicals, there is a wide variation in individual sensitivity. Symptoms of xanthine toxicity can include hyperactivity, irritability, nausea, vomiting, diarrhoea, and increased urination. These can progress to cardiac arrhythmias, epileptic seizures, internal bleeding, heart attacks, and eventually death. According to Wikipedia, the lethal dose for humans is approximately 10 kg. Food scientists warn that these food chemicals should be approached with caution by pregnant women: Eteng MU and others, Recent advances in caffeine and theobromine toxicities: a review. Plant Foods Hum Nutr. 1997;51(3):231-43. http://www.springerlink.com/content/r2j423713174l315/]

In response to your newsletter regarding 220 effects to the heart, I first had a reaction to wine a couple of years ago. I woke in the middle of the night with my heart absolutely racing - I paced the floor, drank plenty of water and tried to relax. Eventually I was able to go back to sleep. This has happened regularly since and loving wine I have found it difficult to control. Fortunately we have a cellar of aged wine and over the time I have found that I am able to tolerate aged red wine and better quality white wines without effect. A single glass of some white wines, however, will give me palpitations and wake me through the night with my heart racing.

Recently I have also been able to link my reaction to episodes of asthma. The first at the age of 30, and the second at 35. On the second occasion I had been drinking 2-3 glasses of white wine every day during a two week holiday. Whilst I was able to select wines that didn't affect my heart at that level, by the end of the second week I experienced my second ever bout of asthma. Recently I also ate some cheese and suffered palpitations. Checking the label showed that it had sulphites listed. – Amanda, by email

[cheese does not normally contain sulphites unless flavoured, e.g. – Mersey Valley sweet chili contains two sulphites: 223 listed as preservative and 221 listed as antioxidant.]

Although I knew I was allergic to medications containing sulphur, I never realised to avoid foods containing sulphites and other additives. During the 1990s I used to eat fruit mince pies and dried fruits (because I thought they were healthy) and many other things that are now out of bounds. I also started to experience sudden uncontrollable coughing fits at the most embarrassing times, so always carried a packet of Fisherman's Lozenges to pop in my mouth on these occasions. I noticed that I started having heart palpitations which would last a short time, but got scared at times when they became stronger or lasted longer (I likened the feeling to my heart being like a washing machine out of balance). The Doctor told me to go to hospital when it happened so I could be put on an ECG machine, but with no transport I knew it was impossible to get to hospital before the palpitations stopped. I got a taxi to the hospital one time, but of course it was over by the time they got the machine hooked up. Eventually I linked these palpitations to the Fisherman's Lozenges and I haven't had any more palpitations since ceasing to take them. Now I am a lot wiser about the foods I eat and I am certainly a lot better for it. – Gladys, by email
[Fisherman’s Friend lozenges are made from all natural ingredients and do not contain preservatives. However, they do contain licorice, menthol, eucalyptus oil and capsicum tincture all of which are high in natural salicylates – it seems that Gladys’ palpitations could have been associated with salicylates in the lozenges she took to overcome the coughing caused by sulphites.]

I suffer from mild arrythmia (I had a hole in my heart since birth and had an operation when I was 21) which is well controlled by medication. I am not a drinker, but do occasionally have one or two drinks and have noticed that the arrythmia is worse and now I know why. I know that MSG aggravates the condition and don’t touch the stuff. – Julie, South Africa

In reply to reader story [640] ventricular arrhythmia from sulphites, those are the exact same symptoms I get when having any sulphites. If I have too many I also get tongue swelling. This reaction happened out of the blue a few years ago at the age of 42. Wine and beer affect me the most and I avoid sulphites in any foods I eat – although I can have sips of wine and small bites of sausages etc with no ill effects, once I have the equivalent of about 3/4 glass of wine with sulphites, I suffer. I always wake up about two hours into sleep, with a temperature and my heart going crazy – then I get stomach cramps, nausea and a strong urge to use my bowels. The next day I feel lousy and my heart feels like it’s got an extra beat for a couple of weeks. I’m happy to have preservative free wine, beer and sausages in my life but 220 and 223 are in way too many products – and for no use at all – my preservative-free sausages last for 4 days beautifully in the fridge. MSG doesn’t affect me (I had a challenge of it in hospital) and I don’t know if the other flavour enhancers bother me, I avoid them and haven’t had them for three years. Although nothing is ever quoted in the medical literature, my immunologist is very familiar with these types of reactions. We have been conned by the manufacturers into believing food requires additives for our benefit but I agree with Michiko, ventricular arrhythmia is a terrible and frightening experience! – Corrine, by email

I found your book about 10 months ago after my four year old son Jacob was hospitalised for an asthma attack combined with the dreaded influenza A that children were dying of. Well, that was enough to scare me into action. We started the diet as soon as I had finished reading the book and soon the children all became well …I couldn't remember a time when Jacob hadn't had a snotty nose or cough.

Then three months ago, Jacob’s behaviour started to escalate. He also developed this phlegm that he couldn’t seem to get rid of. He wasn’t sick as such, no temperature just a very phlegmy cough. I asked my doctor about it and he said it was an irritation and would never go away.  Well I didn’t believe that for a second because it went away when we first started the diet.

Jacob’s behaviour was so awful I was at the end of my tether to the point where I didn't want my husband to leave the house and leave me with the kids. I went to your checklist of common mistakes (I thought I had the diet down pat by now). It said Annatto 160b - in the soy yoghurt I was giving the kids. So I started making my own and after a week I had a little angel again. Unbelievable. No more Annatto 160b for our family - never again.

But Jacob still had the cough. Then I stopped making soy yoghurt for a week. Jacob drinks ricemilk instead of soy milk anyway and I noticed a difference in his phlegm. After three weeks without soy, the phlegm, snotty nose and funny rings under his eyes had gone. He also stopped wetting the bed, and that returned when I made a slip up recently. – Carolyn, SA

I am trying to find out as much information as I can on the additive E635 but it appears that there is nothing on English sites.

My husband (62 years old) ate a packet of Cheese and Onion crisps which has E635 & MSG in them, within minutes his lips were swollen and he broke out in hives, this was over three months ago. I kept him off all foods with these in and when the rash kept appearing on a daily basis he went to the doctors. The doctor thought initially he was having a joke about the additive then realized that he was been very serious but said it would be rare to have such an allergy. He was given a month’s supply of tablets which helped but the moment he stopped taking them the rash appeared again. Back to the doctors who had said it would be rare and suggested that he took the tablets for another 5 days, stop them and then try to find out what he was allergic to!!! They class it as urticaria which has been triggered by an allergy.

He stopped the tablets and the rash appeared again. We are at a loss to what to do next apart from avoiding the foods that contain these additives and take tablets for what appears could be a very long time. – by email, from the UK

I have a son aged seven and a daughter aged five. Both were affected by 635 from birth - I breast fed them both for nearly 12 months while eating foods such as flavoured chips and pizza. They reacted quite differently to 635 and we were very surprised it turned out to be the same thing.

Our son had a rash over the thighs and sometimes the whole leg, bottom and trunk, worse at some times than others and very rarely on his face. He had nappy rash badly a few times.

Our daughter had the rash mainly behind the knees and elbow, sometimes on the bottom.

Because the rash was always there - although some times really bad and other times just there - we thought it had to be something they were exposed to all the time.  We were thinking wheat, dairy, dust mite, fruits, veg, etc - but something always didn't ring true because of the varying degrees of prevalence of the rash.

We went to a doctor who did a skin prick test on each of the children. Our son had a slight nut allergy and our daughter had a slight egg allergy. Some of the other things were also slightly elevated but not really what he thought would be causing their problems. So he suggested we go dairy-free, wheat-free and soy-free for three weeks. We started by re-introducing dairy first, but I didn't do it properly (I gave cheese, etc - thought we could do all dairy!!).  So, we went back to the DFWFSF diet again for a bit.  All was going well, and their skin was quite good (we were starting to think one of these must be the culprit).

When my son was five and my daughter was three, I was going out one night and decided to get ‘Honey Soy Chicken’ from the deli at the supermarket as an easy tea - they'd had it before many times (though obviously not since starting the diet.  Our son started eating it and was complaining about his mouth feeling funny. He had a few more mouthfuls but kept complaining heaps. ‘Stop eating the chicken’.  Was soy our culprit?  The next day his skin was an absolute mess and continued to get worse for a few days. I went down to Coles and asked to look at the ingredient list - Yuk!!!!!!!!!!!!

I saw the number 635 and something triggered (I had briefly looked at ‘Fed Up’ trying to find some information on triggers for eczema) and I went to your website.  Reading through some of the stories about others experiences with 635 - the puzzle pieces started coming together.

The fact that the symptoms last 2-3 weeks explained why sometimes the rashes were really bad and at other times they seemed to be not too bad.  We thought that we had our son’s skin culprit - we couldn't believe that it was also our daughter’s!!  We took 635, 631 and 627 out of their diet and within four weeks their skin was perfect and remained so.  We stopped the diet and began living.

By observation we believe our children do react to other things (behaviourally) - colours, salicylates and amines.

The foods with 635, 627, 631 that affected our children included barbecue shapes, two minute noodle sachets, party pies and sausage rolls, flavoured chips, rice crackers, pizza, tinned soup, cocktail saveloys and many others. They were all foods that were easy to take out of their diet - no sacrifice at all.

Their skin is fantastic now and has been ever since the honey soy chicken episode!! They are very aware of the numbers that affect them and always ask before they eat anything.  We have had a few ‘accidents’ and the skin break out that comes with it ... aaaarrrrgh!  These have generally come from things that are unlabelled - eg delivered pizza, restaurant meals, take-aways.  Still, because we understand what is happening we know how long it takes to go and ride it out. – Lisa, Tas

Three years ago, my son who is now 11 began getting rashes, headaches, always tired, mild asthma, allergic rhinitis, even his personality changed. He had a very bad allergic reaction once to a bought breakfast, but was not hospitalised. My doctor is great and referred him to a paediatrician who specialised in allergies.

I did elimination diets (wheat and dairy) and the rest of it as suggested by the doctor, however it wasn't until I started going through all of the labels that I found this 635 number in soup which he loved, and I and the doctor thought was relatively healthy. It wasn't on my list of additives, so I searched on the internet and found your website.

I then found flavour enhancers in many different foods and just eliminated them - all of the 6XX numbers. The worst was probably chicken noodle soup/ chicken & corn soup, which my son loved. It is an ongoing process as I find it pops up everywhere in foods which you may think are ‘healthy’, I must read the label even on brands I have bought before as they change, meat and chickens etc. It is also frustrating when things are labelled plain/natural/NO MSG as it makes it difficult for my son and anyone else. I must ask when buying take away as I find they add it to chips, without you asking for it or telling you.

When he had the soup his reaction was quite evident and within a few hours of having it - rashes, headache, rolling on the floor ... He once came home sick and with a massive headache - I later found he had had chips labelled ‘natural’ but with flavour enhancers.

My son was quite happy to stop eating these foods as he was much happier without them. I think children are much more rational about this than adults. I now cook my own chickens, soup, pies and go to a butcher who is happy to give me additive free meat.

I know it is difficult to cover everything but I think it important to eliminate flavour enhancers as a first step and for doctors to suggest this, as eliminating milk and wheat (which is what we did first) is much more difficult and has nutritional consequences, while flavour enhancers provide no nutrition. It is not something that is tested for in the blood test/scratch test. – Chris, by email

My daughter Bronte is 6½ years old and now in her first year at school. Aside from reflux until the age of 12 months, she was an absolutely delightful baby who was happy and content. She slept 12 hours through the night by 10 weeks old, hit all her milestones and was fairly average in our mothers group.

When Bronte was approximately 14 months old this deteriorated and we had a child who was frustrated, defiant, irritable and downright difficult. She was naughty on purpose and was impossible to discipline. She also developed eczema at this time but grew out of it after a couple of years. We felt that we were failing as parents. Our first son was born when Bronte was 17 months and he has been a delight. As our sons have grown up we realised that they were ‘normal’ kids and Bronte wasn’t.

When Bronte was three and her younger brother was speaking so much better than her, we had her hearing tested. She had the worst glue ear the ENT specialist had seen in years. She had grommets put in the next week and we were reassured that her behaviour and speech would return to normal reasonably quickly. We started speech therapy to help her catch up but things didn't improve. She didn't respond to the speech therapy as firstly she didn't have the concentration and secondly she simply seemed unable to attempt what was asked of her.

At three and a half she was assessed and we were told she had a global developmental delay of 19 months. That was almost half her life. At this point toilet training had become a huge issue. She was the first in mothers group to use the toilet but was always dribbling urine in her pants ven after recently going to the toilet. She resisted every trip to the toilet and it became a battle. She used to hide and poo in her undies every day and didn’t seem to care if we were out.

She was also very tactile and was into anything she could get her hands on that she could smear and finger paint in. This included dog poo. Many times she would emerge with her body covered on hers or the dogs poo. I hate to admit to how many times she ate dog poo and survived.

By the time she got to four she was still attending speech therapy and was about to commence early intervention. We were desperate patents and lucky to still be married at times due to the stress. We were ready to try anything. After many hours searching the internet, my next attempt to normalise our daughter was an elimination diet. A very daunting venture. With the support of my mother who stayed with us and a fairly skeptical husband we made it through the first three weeks. My husband then changed his tune quickly as a different child emerged into our lives. She virtually toilet trained overnight. The painting of poo ceased. Her language improved exceptionally. Everyone in her life commented about what a different kid she was. I will never forget bursting into tears at around the three week mark (in the diet) when she said ‘thank you mummy’ one day I was driving her to speech therapy. It was the first time she showed any emotion or acknowledgement of our feelings.

We continued the diet and commenced challenges. Two hours after eating chocolate and banana she went berserk. She stood on the carpet and wet her pants in front of us. She pooed her pants. She was defiant and oppositional again. And biggest of all, we couldn’t understand a word she said. We now know she is intolerant to amines in a huge way.

Bronte has since been diagnosed with dyspraxia, a language and motor disorder. She still requires speech therapy. Her private speech therapist has since done the diet with her child and encourages other parents to look into it also as she saw such a big change in Bronte’s speech and development.

We took Bronte to a paediatrician six weeks into the elimination diet to discuss her developmental delay. He bluntly told us that some kids were unlucky enough to be developmentally delayed and we shouldn’t expect too much from her. He said we would be lucky if she was able to catch a bus when she grew up. She would be able to do that now. When I told him that were currently on an elimination diet and had seen huge results he said he would never expect a parent to go to that much trouble and would therefore never suggest it. His last words were ‘When you are ready to put her on Ritalin come back and see me’. I walked out of there disgusted and feeling very sorry for the parents who are told this when they are searching for help.  I have to say that that elimination diet we did with our daughter Bronte, with help from you and our allergist, has absolutely changed my daughter's (and the rest of our family's) life. - Wendy, NSW

•     I love your site and have referred to it for years and years. I was given a low salicylate diet to reduce agitation in my Aspergers son when he was 2 years old, and now he is 15 and a half, he is a fantastic, responsible, loving teenager. - Teigan, by email

•     As mentioned in your book, mothers have to find treats that work for the kids so that they will stick to the diet - everyone liked the white choc chip muffins that I took to a sports carnival recently.  - by email NSW

•     I had a very bad reaction on moving into our new home (paint fumes, new flooring, new grouting/tiles etc etc). Little did I connect the two at the time, that wasn’t until much later. I had severe eczema head to toe and my salicylate threshold went to near zero.’ - email

•     I have finally finished all the food chemical challenges. I found that I am not intolerant to salicylates though I am extremely intolerant to amines. It was a huge relief to find out where all the aggression came from. – by email

•     As a former worker in a chilled dairy, I am writing about a chemical called aspartame added to their diet range that has warnings all over the bag it comes in: ‘do not inhale’ - yet it's OK to eat. This chemical has been tested on rats and apparently caused cancer. I think all these money hungry factories need to be pulled up. I worked at the factory 20 years ago making yogurt and back then none of these chemicals were used. We simply used milk, sugar and a starter culture. – by email 

•     I went through our pantry … oh my gosh … do you know how much food there was in there that we shouldn't be eating! – Deb, SA

•     I recently brought some ‘Pledge Grab it Orange Citrus scent’ use-once dusting cloths because I couldn't find the unscented ones, and I didn't think these would be too bad, but they were. Very strong smelling and gave me a headache. I should have just stuck with the wet dishcloth for dusting. – by email 

•     Thanks so much for all your wonderful information.  My family is now able to sleep and focus because of the information I found on your website and in the Failsafe Cookbook. – Angela, USA

•     I have just discovered you and borrowed your book from the library and have not been able to put it down. It all makes sense and we have to get some control over what we are feeding our children.

•     I became seriously ‘fed up’ when my 7 year old son woke up for school a month ago with croup - I have isolated it to the overdose of cordial (211) from the weekend with friends. - Sharyn, Vic

•     We have been on the elimination diet now for two weeks and I have been one extremely happy mum whilst shopping over the weekend - due to calm children.

My children have severe intolerances to preservatives and colours but not amines. I have been going very well, until the last couple of days when my children started yelling, hitting, slamming doors and just generally being violent with horrible mood swings.

I had purchased ham from my usual shop a few days before. I had asked if they had any of the nitrate-free ham, as I couldn’t see the one I normally buy from the deli. The assistant identified a particular one as nitrate-free, explaining that they had changed suppliers and the price had gone up. I pointed out that the deli label stuck into the leg of ham said organic (I know organic doesn’t always mean nitrate-free) and asked if she was sure it was nitrate-free. She said it definitely was. So I bought it. The kids had a bit that night, and a bit each day since. By yesterday they were both shocking, particularly my 3 year-old daughter, who had had more.

Today I went back to the shop to check. Someone else was on the deli counter. I asked if they had any nitrate-free ham. Before he could answer, I said is that it there, pointing to the one I had purchased. He said no, that the nitrate-free ham is not being stocked anymore. I told him what had happened and he apologized. I told him how severe the reaction has been and how that my children will be like this for a week now. I was told I could get a refund for the ham I purchased. - Michelle, Sydney [Note that ham is not failsafe due to amines. However, it is suitable for people who have passed their amine challenge. See Failsafe shopping List on the website for sources of preservative free ham. Remember you can use CTRL F to search for <nitrate-free ham>]

We have had a major breakthrough with my nine-year-old daughter. Over a year ago we did the elimination diet for her and worked out what her intolerances were - severe for dairy, moderate to severe for salicylates, mild for amines and reacted to all the additives.  I wrote to you some time back noting that my daughter who had finally started drinking soy milk (in fact she was guzzling it down), was bed wetting again and old behaviours were returning. You asked if she was OK with soy.

So we removed soy (or so we thought) and the bedwetting stopped, unless she consumed anything with soy flour in it. For the next year we lived with a much improved daughter but it niggled at me that she still didn't seem 100 per cent and I thought she could be better. When we eliminated gluten and wheat she always had good days but I couldn't bring myself to take these from her already restricted diet and she found this very hard to cope with. She also continued to suffer from eczema behind the knees and in creases, but nothing extreme. I saw the dietitian, thinking that maybe I had re-introduced salicylates too much too soon, but when she had her baddays, going back to failsafe did not always resolve the issue. The dietitian was great and gave me some RPAH booklets and some good advice about nutrition, but I knew I was missing something.

So I trawled the internet, did hours of research, contacted scientists and then went and saw my GP for a referral to an immunologist, hoping that maybe there was a detectable food allergy of some sort - how nice and straightforward that would have been!  Of course nothing showed up in a skin prick test, but the immunologist was a full bottle on the intolerance issue and at least didn't think I was a complete nutter. He said that I could wear myself out trying to look for more intolerances but that I should be grateful we had achieved this level of success for her - no-one was perfect after all and I should appreciate how she was now.

It has only been because we are now trying to figure out my three-year-old daughter's eczema that we have finally put together the last piece in my nine-year-old’s jigsaw.  She had had a particularly bad couple of days: instructions in one ear and out the other, deliberately annoying, disobedient, room like a tip etc and I was re-exploring the fed up website looking for clues about eczema when I came across the story "13 years of soy intolerance" (story 314 from April 2004), which I had read before. That writer mentioned that he avoided Soy Lecithin 322, emulsifiers 476, 471, 492 and vegetable gums from soy and other beans (410, 412, 415, 416, 461) as well as chick peas and tofu, because many soy intolerant people have cross reactivity issues with soy derivatives and other legumes. Of course!  I rushed to my cupboards and discovered that for the past year and a half I have been feeding her these things on a daily basis: 471 was in her Arnott's plain water crackers, the Canola puff pastry and the Baker's delight plain white iced finger buns and also in the brand of rice milk I was currently buying (Freedom Foods) because the Vitasoy rice milk was out of stock. In effect over the past week we had done an unintentional soy challenge because I had made chickpea dip from the Friendly Foods cook book, which she was practically drinking she loved it so much, my "Granny's Beef and Bean Soup", which contained chickpea and mung bean sprouts, lentils, kidney beans and butter beans, plus mince in pastry for dinner. Hallelujah!  Because her intolerance to soy is mild, it took doses on a daily basis to cause problems and they were low level, unlike the obvious ones when she drank bucketloads of soy milk.

I wonder if other people have similar issues with soy that they are not yet aware of?  The tricky thing is that even a mild intolerance will be an issue because these other things are in products typically consumed on a daily basis. Perhaps you could post something on the site in case they might want to explore this a bit more. For a long time I have felt, that I knew the diet was working but she wasn't as good as she could be. Could you find a way to thank the person who wrote story 314 who chose to share this information for the benefit of others?  My daughter has always seemed a little upset that even though she was sticking to food that was Ok for her she was still having occasional bad days and getting in trouble at school, though nowhere near the scale of how she used to be.  This information will be truly life altering for her (and us!) and I'd like him to know that his kindness in wanting to help others has made a difference in our lives, just as yours has Sue. – Cherie, WA [note that Nuttelex Original and Lite are free from soy – the 471 is derived from vegetable oil and the lecithin 322 is derived from sunflower oil]


My daughter ended up with croup and asthma from doing the sulphite challenge and that she also ended up with croup, asthma and a chest infection from doing the lemonade (sodium benzoate 211) challenge. Her behaviour changed so much with the lemonade challenge that her pre-school teacher asked me to stop the challenge on the second day. This still resulted in high behaviour and many other conflicts with anyone she was around, very short fuse amongst other things – reader, Qld

Like story [705] about the amine sensitive man who developed a rash while watching a suspenseful movie, my daughter broke out in a rash all over the other evening after a particularly intense tickling and chasing each other around the house squealing session with her father ...  My eczema also flares up when I'm under stress.  – Cherie, WA

My husband suffers from severe eczema controlled by diet. A couple of months ago he was watching an action movie with Harrison Ford in it. Lots of fighting, guns etc. He doesn't normally watch these sort of movies. By the end of the movie his skin had gone red, weepy and very itchy. Within a half hour of the movie finishing his skin had settled back down. – Robin, Vic

Our little boy was a perfect baby who turned into a terror overnight at about 18 months when we started giving him adult yogurt containing artificial colours. It took a little while for us to figure it out but two days after stopping the yogurt, he became an angel again! We'd managed to figure this out for ourselves but were perplexed when he'd have 'episodes' of difficult behaviour even though we thought we'd eliminated all artificial additives. Your book was a revelation. We are now aware of the not-so-obvious additives and think our little boy has a mild sensitivity to too many salicylates.

My husband and I are also happier, healthier and more relaxed now that we have eliminated additives etc from our lives. I now look back on times in my life when I suffered from insomnia, anxiety and stress and can see that this could have been attributed to my diet of commercial pasta sauce and cheap wine. We are all so much better off now... so thank you so much! – Nikki, NSW

My daughter (now 10) is extremely sensitive to cochineal 120. She develops a rash on her face that extends from under her eyes to around the jaw line. It is a raised, red rash that feels like "sand under the skin". There is noticeable facial swelling also. This occurs within a few minutes of ingestion and lasts for a couple of days. We had great difficulty pinpointing the cause until she had some Breaka strawberry milk. The only thing that could it could have been was the cochineal 120. We confirmed this ourselves by placing 1 drop of cochineal into a drink and she responded with a small amount immediately. An allergist has confirmed that she should avoid this colour. She had a few severe episodes as a young child that involved total head to toe rash and many family photos look like she has a fat face and is sunburned. We now recognize this as a reaction.

We are finding a huge increase in the number of foods that contain 120, many have wording stating no artificial colours. We read labels where at all possible and try to make safer choices otherwise. This is getting increasingly difficult. We try to make our daughter responsible for her diet otherwise she tends to resent the policing of it. Grandparents and friends are struggling with the different labeling also. For example in a particular brand of fruit cup cordial, colours are listed as beta carotene and carmine. I had concerns about the carmine, believing it to be a red colour and found it is another label for cochineal 120.

I have concerns about some colours being labelled by names other than their commonly known ones. It makes reading labels difficult. Friends, relatives and my child read everything before eating and had presumed this one ok. We were very lucky we checked before giving her some. – reader, Qld  (True allergies are reactions to the proteins in foods and intolerances are reactions to the chemicals in foods. Reactions to additives are usually intolerance. However, as the use of natural colours increases, there are increasing reports of true IgE-mediated allergic reactions to natural colours cochineal (120) which is extracted from crushed beetles and annatto(160b) which is extracted from the seedcoat of a tree, due to proteins in the beetles and seeds, see the Annatto factsheet)

I just wanted to say huge thank you for your work (a significant understatement). I saw you at a Canberra talk and our family has been failsafe for 12 months now.  We now have two family members - my husband and my seven-year-old - asthma free thanks to failsafe. My husband was previously a chronic asthmatic and now he has improved so much that he doesn't even need to use a preventer nor does my seven-year-old year old!  My eldest son aged eight is now excelling in school due to failsafe - he previously had all the symptoms of inattentive ADHD - head in the clouds, extremely forgetful, vague and much more. The school teachers have all remarked on his improvement and his school reports reflect the same. The biggest asthma culprits for my husband and seven-year-old year old are 621, 635, sulphites, amines and yellow and red colours.  The culprit for my 8 year old is salicylates.  When we did the RPAH diet and salicylate challenge he fell asleep in the classroom at school and had to be taken home. - Lindy, Canberra (very grateful Mum)

Even though my family is not fully doing the elimination diet I am in the process of reducing the amount of rubbish that my children are consuming, and your information and recipes are helping make a hard job a lot easier.

I was not overly concerned with my children’s health or behaviour, but since we have started reducing the amount of numbers in our diet I have been approached by the teachers to tell me my ten-year-old daughter’s concentration has improved in class and so has my seven-year-old son’s handwriting and ability to sit still in class. Coincidence??? I think not. I am also now more aware of the changes that are occurring after they do consume junk. The teacher in my son’s class was even referring parents to your website at the parent teacher interviews.- Marie, Vic

We started our 1-year-old on the elimination diet, and it has been absolute bliss. He has changed from being an irritable, screaming baby, to a contented playful little boy.  So far we have found that he is very sensitive to salicylates.

For the first ten days of Noah’s life, everything seemed to be all right, but when he was 11 days old I had a bout of mastitis, and that was when his crying - or rather screaming - started. He seemed to be in pain when feeding, pulling away from the breast, arching his back and screaming. He almost never slept, wanting to feed every two hours, sometimes even more frequently. His worst times were from 12am-4am, just screaming constantly. It was impossible to drive with him anywhere as he would cry and scream non-stop in his car seat. The doctors told me it's just colic and he will grow out of it sooner or later. He also had this rash mostly on his back which the doctors said was probably just a heat rash or something, nothing to worry about.

By the time Noah was five months old, I couldn't take his constant screaming anymore, and he still had all the above symptoms. He was reaching his milestones, but wasn't interested in playing on his own. I was carrying him around for most of the day, and even then he was still moaning away. I tried some baby rice cereal, but he would vomit after each feed, so I stopped that. I introduced some other baby food (oats and fruits) which he seemed to tolerate better, but he was still screaming most of the time. Reading a lot on the internet, I came to the conclusion that he might have a food allergy. (This seemed quite logical as I have a 9-year-old daughter who is allergic to numerous things and has anaphylaxis reaction with peanuts).  I eliminated all dairy, egg, wheat, and soy from my diet as well as Noah's. His rash went away in just a few days, and he seemed to be crying a little bit less, but other than that there was no real difference.

When he was six months old I convinced my GP that I needed to see the paediatrician. What a disappointment, the paediatrician told me that I was just imagining things as Noah was looking healthy and growing well. He told me to come back when he was a year old if I still thought there was a concern.  So the next few months we stayed on that ‘homemade elimination diet’ of mine, taking everyday as it came. Noah was not interested in playing with his brother (7) or sister, crying most of the days, and sleeping poorly at night. A few weeks before he turned one I decided to talk to my GP again, tell him I want to see an allergist, because I was more convinced than ever that Noah had some kind of allergy. That was the best thing I could have done. Noah was tested and we found out he is allergic to egg, and the doctor explained to me about food intolerance, which I knew nothing about.

We were put on the elimination diet and within three days we could see the amazing changes in Noah. He was actually playing with his siblings and on his own, not wanting to be picked up the whole time, and sleeping through the night. What a joy it was. We introduced the salicylates first, and by the morning of the second day he was back to his old self. That night he screamed the whole time and for the first time in a long while he pulled away from the breast again. We went back to the basic diet again. It went all right but after a few days he was again irritable. After searching for the problem I came to the conclusion that it was the vanilla in the vanilla soymilk he had been drinking. I cut that out of his diet and things went smoothly again. We seem to be on the right track now. Thanks for the great books, they’re a really big help. – Jeannette, by email

My stepson has suffered from black rings under the eyes, continually stuffed up and asthma attacks since he was a baby. After speaking to you in Brisbane we decided to try A2 milk.

On A2, the rings cleared up straight away, the snorting stopped and after a while we realised there had been no asthma attacks. Then he spent a few months living with us overseas where A2 is not available. However, there is also no fresh milk - all milk is UHT (mainly Pauls). There were no side effects.

On returning to Brisbane for a week's holiday, we were off guard and purchased plain milk. He had 3 small asthma attacks (required ventolin) in the week. He's now back on the UHT again no effects. We don't know why, whether it is the heat process or not, but it definitely is not a figment of our imagination. - by email

I had been giving Cottees Fruit Cup Crush to my 3-yr-old son and 2-yr-old daughter for the past week, knowing I had checked the ingredients and thought it was safe because there were no additive 'numbers' listed in the ingredients list!! I knew it contained a preservative called sodium benzoate, but it wasn't listed as a 'number' and therefore I thought it was harmless. I thought ‘finally something my kids could drink!’

To then realise this morning after reading your article in the Sunday Examiner that sodium benzoate is actually preservative 211. I was horrified! Not only do you have to look for additive numbers, BUT ALSO NAMES!!!!!!!  How can companies do this to us ... knowing WHAT they are doing??? !!!

I am now learning and understanding your outrage at this, and your consequent plea and cry for desperate measures to be taken to reach mums and dads. To reach everyone, everywhere for that matter, because everyday we are being lied to, tricked, conned, call it what you will! But this is impacting my kids and their future!! Even us adults! – Katherine, by email

Thomas was born a very healthy full term baby. A couple of days later he had little red pimples on his face that after two weeks became quite red and covered a quarter of his cheeks, Clinic nurses noted that it was a bad hormonal rash, but it never went away, it only got worse. Thomas was also an irritable baby needing feeding at least every two hours he didn't sleep for any more than 2 hours at a time.

With two other children and hubby to feed, time was precious, so I started whipping up quick casseroles to feed the family. In the casseroles I would put in meat and fresh veg I had in the fridge, and for the flavour we were used to I would throw in a packet of beef & veg cuppa soup and thicken it with Gravox. Things were going from bad to worse. Thomas was covered all over in a red rash. The doctor diagnosed eczema and gave creams for it but it only got worse and infected.

On one particular occasion I remember vividly, I made the casserole for dinner on Friday night, and while having a cuppa and chat next day noticed that Thomas became quite irritable and his little head came out in beads of sweat, which later became a crusty layer. It suddenly dawned on me that this happened every time I made the casserole, I would eat it about 6 pm and by 12-1 pm the next day (18 hours later) this little time bomb would go off in Thomas. The next day Thomas was a ratty all day, his whole body was red and his scalp crusty.

When Thomas was 4 months old we got into a Dermatologist who listened to our story and nearly laughed at us and explained about Cuppa soup (flavour enhancers) and Gravox (salicylates) his words were ‘it's like a time bomb’. We discovered from that trip that Thomas was allergic to dairy, eggs, peanuts, and probably intolerant to the nasty food colourings, preservatives and additives given his reaction to flavour enhancers and salicylates. Although he had never ingested these foods directly, he had got it all through my breast milk. Thomas was weaned onto Neocate Formula then to soy at 12 months of age. He has since developed allergies to soy, all nuts, potato, gluten, house dust, cats, dogs, horses, many grasses and weed pollen. He also suffers from asthma. He now drinks rice milk and is on a strict egg-free, dairy-free, nut-free, potato-free, gluten-free low salicylate diet. Now at six years of age Thomas is a healthy active boy despite all this.- by email.

I can't express how elated my entire family was to discover failsafe eating about five years ago. We have all benefited especially my granddaughter Zoe who was around three (and eating lots of bread with 282) at the time and out of control. She screamed most of the time, threw tantrums, tried to hurt her baby sister, threw anything within her reach, was so so angry with the world and wet the bed most nights. My daughter who was a single mum at the time would ring me up in despair and I would go and help her to give her a break. One day Zoe just sat on the floor and screamed and screamed. I asked her what was the matter, why was she so sad and she said she didn't know she just couldn't stop crying.

I was working as a Teacher's Aide Special and I happened to mention Zoe's behaviour to the teacher I was working with and she told me about your book Fed Up. She brought the book in for me to read and it was like a gift from heaven. Zoe's mum started her on the diet straight away and what a new child we had within days. The screaming stopped, the tantrums stopped, the bed wetting stopped and she started to smile and laugh again. A happy little girl at last. She is almost nine now and a most delightful intelligent child who puts all her energy into dancing and singing. However, on occasions when she does eat ‘Cranky food’ she goes off the deep end or ‘cuckoo’ as her sister says. Zoe is now aware of what she can and can't eat. When we went shopping she would carry the list of ‘Avoid these Food Additives’ but now she just remembers them.

I put myself on the diet as well as I was suffering severe hot flushes (see story [679] Menopausal symptoms, hot flushes and failsafe].  ... My entire family believes in Failsafe and we all avoid the nasties and live a healthier happier life. The funny thing is I am like a tester for Zoe: if I react then so does she.

I will just add that my daughter now has a 5-week-old baby boy - she stuck to failsafe while she was pregnant and she is still on it now while she is breast feeding and her little boy is the best baby, feeds and sleeps. - by email

The girls very rarely have marshmallows but tonight I bought a packet of mixed white and artificially coloured pink ones. Older daughter had 4, younger had 3 and they both went right off! My younger daughter started biting again, something she hasn't done for ages and they were both shouting and went stupid. They have settled now, a couple of hours later but I realised they are not ok and threw rest of pack out. I try so hard with everything and then make a silly mistake like that which is very frustrating! - Tania, by email

Regarding my dissatisfaction with Smarties. I've just discovered that the UK smarties are using natural colours rather than artificial colours. I'm just wondering (as a very concerned parent of two small children) why the hell the Australian division of Nestle haven't followed lead WITHOUT relying on complaints from concerned potential buyers. It is the same for quite a few products including jelly. We the consumers shouldn't need to complain before a product is changed.

Nestle, you are a world wide company making profit at the cost of your consumers health.  Isn't it YOUR best interests (including your shareholders pockets) to try to ensure your customers live a LONG and HEALTHY life (so they can buy more of your products of course!)  And the only way to accomplish this profitable long term bottom line is to ensure ALL your products meet the highest of standards to ensure they are as healthy and natural as possible.  Not to mention that it is a marketers dream to have their company turn ‘green’ during the current healthy, green and natural consumer push. – by email

For many years I have had tachycardias, a feeling of being ‘unplugged’ (as if my heart had stopped, blood pressure rapidly falling and I was going ‘out’) and inexplicable cold in my hands and feet like ice even in the summer. And the same thing on my nose. It turns bright red at times for no reason as if the capillaries dilated and it remains that way for a long time - it burns as if it has been held on the stove. Since changing my diet, my nose is normally coloured, I am nice and warm all over and no one has been ‘pulling my plug’.  It seems that food chemicals affect my vascular system and blood flow. – by email

My son started kindergarten this year and was at the principal’s office within weeks. He had stabbed his classmate with a pencil, he had run away on a school excursion, been incredibly rude and obnoxious to teachers and hit other children. He was defiant, easily frustrated, blamed others for everything under the sun, he was aggressive with his siblings and parents, socially he was not improving either.

After the disastrous start to school I picked up your book which I thought was going to just talk about colours and preservatives and could not put it down. It made so much sense and I just had that gut feeling we had found a possible solution. We started failsafe eating almost immediately and we made many errors but finally worked through those. Before the diet he would have avocado, banana and berries in his lunch and he would come home to spinach and tomato lasagne!!

During the diet my son slept and slept and slept. His behaviour improved very slowly but once we were in the third week we noticed a big turn around. One morning he surfaced at 8am, his bed had been made, he was dressed and he was calm, polite and happy.

When he returned to school for term two his teacher and school counsellor were in disbelief. During the whole of term two he did not even once have to go to the time-out beanbag in his classroom. WOW! He has started to make friends and has picked up some awards along the way.- by email

Recently my failsafe 6-year-old son went into hospital to have grommets in and his adenoids removed. Right up until he went into the operating theatre he amazed us with his great behaviour and how he dealt with the whole process. The minute he woke up he was so aggressive, rude, would not co-operate and was back to our little monster again.  We couldn't wait to slink out of the hospital with him and get home. The next day he was still agitated and demanding. Do you think the anaesthetic and medication he received for this procedure could cause these sort of reactions?  I know kids do react to going into hospital etc but the change in him from before and after was so dramatic I just have to wonder if it could affect him. – by email, NSW [General anaesthetics are usually OK but medications before and after the procedure can cause bad side effects. You can discuss this with your anaesthetist beforehand, see the free introduction to Friendly Food on www.cs.nsw.gov.au/rpa/Allergy/default]

On the second day of school, my 12-year-old cut his knee badly exposing the tendons. The doctor said he had to really pump him full of anaesthetic as it was so bad. The effects seemed to really throw him out. Instead of getting physical though as he would have a few years ago, he brought it into himself. He just sobbed his heart out and couldn't talk. He had very bad headaches and the shakes. He slept non-stop for about two days before we started getting him back on track. At school the teacher said that my son had been so happy before but after his accident he turned into into a sullen, seldom speaking young lad. - by email, Qld [Local including dental anaesthetic injections usually contain preservatives that can cause worse problems when injected than consumed by mouth. It is possible to get preservative-free local anaesthetics if you ask - S]

I stumbled upon your web page by accident. I have lived the last 30 years with profound migraine and trigeminal neuralgia. I am on some powerful meds and am trying to put off MVD (microvascular decompression) surgery. My headaches are chronic and have absolutely stolen the best years of my life. I have almost learned to expect and just deal with the incessant pain. But I think I just may have accidentally made an odd discovery. I wanted to lose a few pounds and I decided to do Dr. Atkins Fat Fast for a few days - which is simply cream cheese and nothing else. Within two days my head was pain free. So I am thinking this is very strange: is eating food giving me headaches???  I began to research and came upon histamines. I am amazed as I have never been ‘allergic’ to anything and never had sinus problems. I did note to the doctor that I was certain oranges had triggered migraine attacks - and wine or alcohol and dark chocolate. He told me to stay away from them but never mentioned histamines. I used to have friends … a life ... I have contemplated suicide many times. I have been told to put ice packs on my head. I fantasize about somehow being present at my own autopsy and taking a hammer and beating my own head and face to pieces. Now I think I am on to what might have caused this pain all these years.  – by email, USA [preservative-free cream cheese is one of many failsafe foods - S]

Our son has been progressively more moody and ADHD since 3 yrs-old and we couldn’t understand why. We know now! We were used to wheat, dairy and numbers sensitivities and have worked with them in our family for years. Plenty of healthy foods. We had no idea about salicylates or amines and have had to shift from a diet abundant previously in fruits and veggies.

We haven’t done well with elimination - most weekends since we started we have either been travelling or having birthday parties and have mucked up the diet - and even so we have seen great changes in our son. He has become quite the sleuth in reading labels and monitoring other children’s lunches. He has been very compliant. Better than my husband who we’ve seen great changes in too.

My husband is a naturopath and worked a lot with sensitivities and this has unfolded a whole new awareness and interest for him He has definitely seen proof in the salicylate/amine/number free pudding!!! My daughter’s eczema is much better too than on the previous wheat and dairy free approach. My husband would like to incorporate this awareness into his work with clients and we shall get the DVD to show clients and family and friends. – by email

I have been in practice as a naturopath for 22 years. Your failsafe information has completely revolutionised the way I look at food and how it affects children and adults. Gone are all my old elimination diets and theories, I work purely with chemicals, natural or otherwise, in the diet. Thanks for all the support and your great website and books, they give my patients an instant network to hook into when they are not with me. – by email

I just wanted to let you know that some people with salicylate sensitivity do not just react to NSAIDS. Cox2 inhibitors such as Celebrex can also be a concern in 5-10 per cent of people. I fall into this group and I am unable to take any prescription anti-inflammatories apart from prednisolone. Fish oil (if tolerated in high doses) is an excellent alternative for me and thought your readers may benefit from this. It was known that I had reactions to NSAIDS and aspirin yet when I was trialled on Cox 2 no mention was made that there could be a possible cross reaction (http://www.allergy.org.au/patients/about-allergy/65-aer/general/105-allergic-reactions-to-aspirin-and-other-pain-killers).  I was basically told that I was unusual without any explanation other than for me to try others would be life threatening. If it helps one other person to know that this is possible then what I went through is worth it. – by email, Vic

(For more about fish oil supplements - the writer of this email does not react to amines and is using Blackmores fish oil)

I noticed that I have a dramatic reaction to diet coke. If I drink it, I get depressed and mood swings within 24 hours. So what we thought was emotion due to having bubs, was really the diet coke I was drinking as a pick-me-up due to lack of sleep. The challenge was eye opening.  I did a benzoate challenge and was fine. I did another challenge with Diet Coke and the mood change is profound. The next day I was depressed, despondent and my husband said it was like turning off a light. – by email

I've recently noticed that I get really grumpy when taking a certain brand of super strength fish oil capsules. I started thinking I was suffering from post natal depression as I could feel the anger start inside me and build really fast and grow bigger. A bit hard to describe but I had never had this feeling before. I forgot to take them for a while which is what made me realise it was the capsules.  - Carole, by email

(see our Supplements factsheet for similar reports)

I put myself on the diet five years ago as I was suffering severe hot flushes, was continually tired, felt sick most times after I ate, felt fuzzy in the head, got cranky for no reason and did not sleep well at all. My life changed - I now sleep well, I am not tired all the time, the hot flushes stopped, my head is clear and I very rarely get sick. If I have a lousy day or night I can always trace it back to something I have eaten the day before or two or three days before. The worst offenders are additives and salicylates. I have always been a big fruit eater especially watermelon, and it has been one of the hardest things to give up, however if I do binge on fruits high in salicylates especially watermelon I pay for it with hot flushes and a sleepless night. I also get hot flushes if I eat chicken that is not organic which I avoid at all costs now.

I see a lot of women I work with suffering with menopausal symptoms and I think myself extremely lucky that I found and was prepared to give failsafe eating a try. Unfortunately you can take a horse to water but you can't make it drink. These women as many other people I talk to don't believe it could be that simple and are not prepared to give it a go, silly them. - by email

We have seen some huge improvements in my 6-year-old son’s nocturnal eneuresis. He had not had any dry nights since he was 3 years old.  After making the changes below he started to have some dry nights (3-4 a week). Now he has been dry for the last 9 nights.

•     we have started him on A2 milk

•     we used to have a jug of diluted orange juice in the fridge, now the kids drink mainly water with the occasional magic cordial.

•     he was eating broccoli almost every night and we have not had any for 4 weeks now

•     I have been more diligent in not buying any products with preservative 282 in it

•     generally more aware of products full of additives, colours and preservatives since hearing you speak and reading your books

•     our son did love to eat salami and ham (deli), so he has not had this for 4 weeks.

His bladder capacity is so much bigger and he can hold on for longer in the day. His mood swings are virtually resolved and you can reason with him if he is wanting something that is not appropriate, food or otherwise. My husband and I can both see that he is more confident in himself and sociable, making him a lovely child to be around. He usually has redipred once or twice in winter for exacerbation of asthma symptoms, but so far has not required any this winter, despite having a cold last week, so that is looking positive. Thank you for motivating me to review what I was putting in my family’s mouths. We don't have access to fast foods living in the country, so that was never an issue. With a few simple changes to my son's diet, the improvements have been remarkable. The whole family is now reaping the benefit of these changes and so will continue to be more aware of what is in the food that we are eating. Thanks again for your passion and drive. – Paula, NSW

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