BBQ Sauce


A mother asked the following question:

My 9yo has been struggling with anger issues. I am trying to work out the cause but it seems to be worse after he eats bbq sauce. I can't work out which other foods are triggering him. Could it be the caramel 150 colouring? It is the only common additive I can see between bbq sauce and other foods he has eaten prior to meltdown.

According to the RPA elimination diet and our readers’ experience, caramel colouring 150 is unlikely to cause problems.

The problems with barbecue sauce are the natural food chemicals known to affect children’s behaviour:

  • salicylates – in most fruit, some veg, herbs and spices
  • amines – in protein foods and some veg
  • glutamates – like MSG

I looked at the ingredients in Australia’s favourite barbecue sauce and the RPAH food chemical chart ratings according to the most recent version of Friendly Food:


RPAH Rating

tomato paste   

Very high (sals, amines, glutamates)

tamarind paste

Very high (sals, amines)

yeast extract

Very high (sals, amines, glutamates)


Very high (sals)


Very high (sals)


Very high (sals)


Very high (sals)

So BBQ sauce – like tomato sauce - is listed as VERY HIGH in salicylates, amines and glutamates.  

Reader reports about the effects of barbecue or tomato sauce

We're here about our 9 yo son with oppositional defiance, we've already realised tomato sauce is probably bad, he lives on it – from story [1073] feedback from our 2011 roadshow

This is my 9 year old … angry, impulsive, unable to control his emotions or his temper. I was having flashes of his future being a jail cell!! Then I noticed yellow and orange set him off the most and so the painful, looooooong, mistake-ridden, blind trial began! At first it was tomato sauce ...For years we did this until one lady said... "He's not allergic to Salicylates is he???? …We are 3 weeks in to the failsafe diet and OMG!!!!! I have my patient, beautiful, well mannered, no trucker talk, caring son back!!! – from story [1419]
We have finished all challenges on the elimination diet and have discovered glutamates - MSG and all 600 numbers to be extremely bad for our 12 year old daughter … We now totally avoid MSG, all 600 numbers and unspecified 'flavour' listed on any product! Foods previously eaten which we avoid completely now include … tomato and BBQ sauce … - from story [877]

… we have a happy and well child (she cannot tolerate preservatives and is extremely salicylate sensitive). I must admit five years ago when we started all of this if anybody had ever said that strawberries, broccoli and bottled tomato sauce could send my three children into crazed animals I would have not believed them” – from story [574]

Last week I started by taking my 7 year old son off fruit juice and fruits except pears ... the school called me and asked why my son was different. Now we are into the diet full swing … He is missing his tomato sauce but there are no other complaints … - from story [015]

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