My husband was one of the first children to go on the Feingold diet in Australia in 1973. His parents still talk about the amazing improvements they saw although on that diet he was allowed pineapple, dates, cauliflower and mushrooms. I think some of the improvement was that they had a local butcher, they made their own bread, and they never ate out because there was no eating out then. They had a wonderful local chemist who made them toothpaste.

Because of that you would have thought we would twig much earlier to our son but we didn't. We avoided tomato and orange a lot because from when he first went on solids he broke out in a rash and did again a few times so we just didn't eat them. But he got worse over time. At 15 months he would run up our very steep street and then do 4 blocks of the neighbourhood, with us trying to keep up. I'm now pretty sure that was the kick he was getting from the salicylates. His absolute favourite was apricot teddies. We used to only let him have 1 or 2 every fortnight but that, along with all the other high foods kept him like a little tornado.

My husband's mum told us about salicylates when we went away on a holiday. His eczema got really bad and we thought it must be from the chlorine when we went swimming. She suggested fish oil tablets so we got some for kids but they also had high salicylates. He just went hyper in no time. He kept asking for more of them and that night he screamed and screamed all night and kept scratching worse than he ever had. He had welts all over him in the morning.

We tried cutting out just salicylates and saw some improvement but it just got bad again. Then I went hunting on the internet, found your book and we talked with our doctor about doing the RPA elimination diet. The change was noticeable, the biggest being less extreme mood swings and going to sleep at night. Bedtime used to be a 2 hour stint every night and then he would collapse in exhaustion.

We have seen head banging on two occasions, well after we started the diet. My sister gave him some yoghurt by mistake with Annatto 160b in it and he was a very loud very angry little boy. He didn't really have tantrums as such but did quite a bit of banging his head, wouldn't let us near him. He didn't want to be touched at all and kept threatening his little brother with all kinds of nasty things. A lot of yelling. He did not sleep at all well that night needless to say. It was the same the second time. – Susan, by email (Please report similar annatto 160b reactions to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.)

I wrote you 4 years back (story [524]), and I just thought I should write in with an update. If you'll recall I had suffered from additive-induced asthma from the age of 10 (I'm now 37). It took a couple of decades to finally realise that artificial food additives were THE cause of my condition.

As a heads-up for those still "lost" and wondering if there is a cure, I strongly urge you to give up what I call the "trifecta" (i.e. artificial colours, flavours and preservatives). This covers most of the main culprits which cause most peoples' asthmatic conditions (in my opinion).

After this, I also discovered I was highly sensitive to "vegetable gums" (that friendly sounding additive in many bread products: This includes Gum Arabic and the so-called 'safe' one, Xanthan Gum). The symptoms these two nasty additives create in sensitive people is a tight chest, light-headedness and a general feeling of not being able to breathe. (I literally almost died one night a while back, when I woke up gasping for air at 3am, after having consumed bread with Xanthan Gum in it over a period of four days straight...)

Well, there it is guys. Thanks mainly to your wonderful website I have gone from 20 puffs a day to not touching Ventolin or any medication for over a year now. Not a single time! I honestly never thought I would reach this stage. It's so sad to think that if we - as a society - just stuck to "whole" foods, leaving out ALL artificial additives, many, MANY health issues would be non-existent. Things are getting better, thanks to websites like yours, Sue, but it's still too slow. Thank you so much for all the valuable things you do and God Bless you all! - Mark, by email

The main problem that I have had to deal with for over 30 years is the use of sulfite preservatives. I have had at least 5 instances of anaphylaxis, with three events that landed me in the emergency room. I do not have asthma, nor am I particularly abnormally allergy-prone (other than seasonal hay fever, and the few foods and medications of which I am intolerant), but sulfites in wines give me excruciating 2-3 day migraines, and the amount used on non-fresh shrimp has given me several life-threatening encounters that required 6+ hours under the care of a number of very, VERY uneasy emergency room doctors. – Geoffrey by email, USA

I had already been failsafe for about ten years when my menopausal symptoms started - fluctuating breast tenderness followed by symptoms such as restless legs and then hot flushes. As a result of doing the elimination diet with challenges I already knew that I was sensitive to salicylates, amines, additives and A1 dairy foods, so tightening up on failsafe eating dealt with irritability and restless legs, just as it had previously with premenstrual symptoms. But for hot flushes, I found that wasn't enough. I had already noticed that low fat eating (VLF very Low Fat) dealt with period pain and it turned out the be the answer for hot flushes as well - they stopped within days of ditching the fat.

See how unsuspected food intolerances affected one family in Australia and what answers they found  http://youtu.be/D0c9ZG64UwQ

Links to story [1066]

We have an escalation of my daughter's behaviour since an increase in Maccas and Hungry Jacks (thanks to hubby which I am not happy about). She is pulling out her hair and eye lashes also but I am not convinced it is strictly OCD.

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

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

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

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

I have been on anti-depressants and a mood stabiliser in the past. However, if I stick to failsafe eating, there is no problem with any of that stuff - see story [963].

If I cheat, boy do I pay the price!! The first sign of reaction is hair pulling, followed very rapidly with other reactions. By the next day, I feel absolutely horrid. I don't want to live, I don't even want to see anyone, including family. I feel like I have the worst hangover ever. I actually feel sick enough to be in hospital. My husband and adult daughter know straight away if I've cheated.

It still blows my mind to think that food can have such an impact on sensitive individuals. It has happened every time I've cheated, so I definitely know it's a food reaction. It's also like an addiction. If I get a taste of prohibited foods, I can't stop myself. All I can think about is the wrong foods, even though I know how rotten I will feel. My system is so sensitive, I will know if a food smells strong and I feel sick from the aroma, I can't eat it. I have tried soda bi-carb in water as an antidote. It works sometimes and I will have bi-carb baths. The last resort is to water fast. By the next day I feel myself again. Liz, NSW

See more at the Fedup Roadshow 2011 report

‘I had severe migraines all my life. Then I came to a talk eight years ago – as a stall worker, not to learn anything. During the evening, I realised that my migraines were due to amines in my favourite foods - chocolate, cheese, avocado and cheesecake. Now I avoid those and I don’t have migraines any more’.

'The reason I came is that my neighbour has a Down syndrome kid and the diet has made a huge difference, he is much easier to manage'

The mother of a 6 year old who reacts to salicylates said, 'when he eats salicylates, he can't control his emotions and cries all the time'.

Audiences laugh when I tell them ADHD medication makes children better able to focus on being oppositional, but that’s what one family was there for: 'Ritalin makes him focus, he annoys the hell out of other people and doesn't give a s..t', they said, requesting a diet for oppositional defiance.

 'We're here about our 9 yo son with oppositional defiance, we've already realised tomato sauce is probably bad, he lives on it. Also wraps, he eats those all the time. We'll be checking the labels when we get home.'

'I failed Tresillian', said one mother, and we heard the same about other baby management centres. Typically, there were extreme sleeping patterns – e.g. sleeping for 30 minutes at a time - with reflux, breastfeeding difficulty or other problems. Yet none of the mothers who spoke to us were warned about salicylate intolerance. This breastfeeding mother was eating a diet exceptionally high in salicylates through foods and supplements.

‘We’ve been on the GFCF diet since October – it has helped a bit but over the last 2 weeks he has been really terrible again – angry and throwing his train set around the room’, said the mother of a 4 yo autistic.  We worked out that Soylife vanilla yoghurt was introduced 2 weeks ago. This yoghurt (but not Soygurt brand) contain annatto 160b. (A US study earlier this year showed that the GFCF diet alone does not work for autism and this is just one example why, you have to avoid a lot more than just gluten and casein).

‘I thought sultanas were okay as long as they are sulphite free’, said the ADHD mother of an ADHD son. Wrong! Sultanas are one of the worst foods for a child with behavioural issues, and diet won’t work if you make daily mistakes. I sometimes wonder if the best use of Ritalin could be for parents with ADHD so they are better able to be focus on doing the diet.

‘I’m too embarrassed to tell parents that their children have eaten instant mashed potato’ said one child care worker at another talk. ‘If they ask, I just say they’ve eaten potatoes.’ Yet 'instant mashed potatoes'  may contain sulphite preservatives and MSG type flavours – this is important information for parents trying to work out why their children have problems, for example, from story [395] about stuttering and speech difficulties.

‘My daughter reacted to annatto in fish fingers with head banging, rocking and making whoop whoop silly noises - this lasted for about three days, every time she tried to concentrate, the headbanging, rocking and noises would start up again' said  the mother of a 6 year old

‘We haven't switched toothpaste, but most of it goes in the sink, would it affect him?’ asked the mother of a 6 yo for whom ‘the diet is working but not fully’.  YES. Especially as they were using a children's toothpaste with artificial colour (it can be listed as a CI number or the American system, e.g. red 40). See alternatives http://fedup.com.au/information/shopping-list/personal-medications-and-supplements

‘My son has severe eczema’, said a mother, showing me a phone photo of her 3 year old’s terrible rash. What does he eat? High salicylate products such as honey flavoured cereal, strawberry jam and strawberry yoghurts … we hear over and over again that salicylates are a major contributor to eczema, yet many mothers do not know about this.

‘Salicylates and preservatives including sulphites - in dried apricots - turned out to be the major problems for our son’s severe eczema’, said one mother.

‘Even though tests showed my daughter had grown out of her egg allergy, her eczema improved when we took egg out of her diet again, as well as salicylates and additives,’ another said.


‘My son has been on the FODMAPs diet for 4 months without any improvement. The dietitian put him on it’, said the mother of a child with behaviour and irritable bowel symptoms. The FODMAPs diet is only intended for IB symptoms, not for behaviour or other symptoms of food intolerance and doesn’t work for everyone. For a dietitian who will supervise the RPA diet, ask for our list (This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.)

‘I came to your talk a few years ago and switched to preservative free bread – we saw an enormous improvement in our son’s behaviour. Then we went ahead and removed more additives and natural food chemicals, and saw even more changes,’ said one mother.

 'My asthma has gone since we started the diet' said one mother. 'It started when I finished my nursing degree, moved out of home and started buying processed foods. That was 13 years ago, and I've spent the last five years on preventers. I was able to give up preventers one week into failsafe.'

'We've been following your books for 3 years and it saved our lives' said one couple. 'I know others say that, but it did'.

'We have been on our diet now for six weeks' said a mother in the front row. 'It took my 2.5 yo daughter a full 3 weeks to improve. (I was glad you said in your book that some parents get despondent in the second week). It had got to the stage where I loved her but I didn't like her and neither of us were enjoying our day. Now she is more compassionate, sympathetic, helpful, cooperative, listens to instructions and follows them, and stops when asked.'

'We read your website and only made 3 changes – took out Vegemite, margarine, and switched to A2 milk. And all our son's problems went away. We are going to pursue it further - but I still find it hard to believe food can have such a huge effect.' This father had been referred to our website by his young son's paediatrician for possible autistic symptoms, and told his story with utter amazement

'Thank you, I am blown away by your information. My son just loves his fruit' - mother of an 11 yo with encopresis who had been avoiding additives but didn't realise about salicylates.

'When we read Sue's book we thought she must have had a hidden camera in our house because she was describing our family so well' – comment from a mother.

‘My 6 yo son has dental enamel problems. The dentist said it was very rare’, one mother said. Dental enamel issues in a young child can be due to gluten intolerance. We have received 3 reports of this problem in children with coeliac relatives. Research shows that relatives of coeliacs often do better on a gluten free diet. http://www.everydayhealth.com/celiac-disease/understanding/dental-enamel-defects.aspx .  It is now thought that gluten intolerance may affect one person in 100.

‘I remember our son about 18mths to 2yrs thumping his head on the ground or wall to the extent that he would end up with bruising. At the time his favourite food was Shapes flavoured crackers. It wasn’t until the first time we saw your talk in which you showed us what had the head banging additive in it that we realised what was happening, and they have never been seen in our house again. – from a failsafe father

‘I’m a food nazi. My kids aren’t allowed any sugar but when I look at the screen, that’s what I feed them – flavoured Rice Wheels’, said one mother whose son has suspected ADHD. Many mothers think rice based snacks are healthy because they are in the health food aisle. We recommend plain, unflavoured rice cakes and rice based snacks.

‘When my son was 18 months old he did headbutting for 6 months – he would do it on any surface, walls, floor, glass – and it was obvious he was really hurting himself. A friend told me to cut out ice cream - yes, it was Streets Blue Ribbon ice cream with annatto in it - and the head banging stopped,’ said one mother whose son still has behaviour problems. No one reacts to only one additive. If you have ever seen a food reaction, even once, it means there are many others you haven’t noticed.

‘In the 1960s, all pharmacists were compounding pharmacists’ said a retired pharmacist, ‘then the pharmaceutical companies took over’.  Medication free of nasty additives can be made by compounding pharmacists.  Of over 7000 pharmacists listed in the yellow pages, only 177 are compounding – they will usually take orders by phone and mail.

‘Could pesticides sprayed on a farm cause asthma in a salicylate-sensitive asthmatic?’ asked another  mother. Yes - pesticides can be yet another of the inhaled salicylates or other inhalants that can affect food sensitive children and adults.

‘Before going dairy free, my son had 30 ear infections including 4 in the last two months.  This has dropped to NONE in the four months since going dairy free.’ – mother of a 3 yo. Throughout the roadshow, we met many parents who were extremely reluctant to give up dairy foods.

‘When we lived on a farm, we ate our own fresh meat, grew our own vegies and didn’t eat a lot of fruit. After we moved to town, we soon realised it was easier to drive down to the shops and buy something for dinner. A lot of junk (and behavioural problems) have crept in. I’m going to pretend we are back on the farm and start cooking like that again,’ said one mother.

‘Your seminar was great.  I have had my 5 year old ADHD son on the diet now for 2.5 weeks. His tantrums that had been occurring nearly every day at school - kicking the teacher and often spitting and having to be carried to the office - have stopped, and  I believe that 160b in yoghurt has largely been the issue. He is now sitting and reading his reader in one go which for us is a MAJOR change. We have eliminated all additives, colours, and only have low salicylate and no amines or nitrates, we still have dairy and wheat. We had positive results by the end of week one with continuing improvement so plan to stick with the diet. We are attending the group you recommended.’

 

[1073] Some feedback from the Fedup Roadshow 2011 (September 2011)

It was great to have the opportunity to meet you at the Brisbane roadshow. It felt like I was meeting my all time favourite rock star. I was quite awe struck. Listening to you speak motivated me to keep my son going on the food plan.
 
After the presentation, I made an appointment to see the dietitian you recommended. It was a lengthy trip but well worth it. For the next month we are transitioning my son to a gluten and dairy free diet, increasing his protein and calcium intake (protein has been difficult as we are vegetarians) and stopping the soy products as well. I agreed to allow him to try some chicken (your suggestion) and white fish. As our dietitian pointed out, it's a trial. Some children improve, some remain the same but at the moment it's a question mark regarding my son's behaviour. We started the transition last Thursday and the Vitasoy Rice milk, added with a teaspoon of icing sugar (dietitan’s suggestion) has been a huge hit. Calcium intake no longer a problem.
 
To be completely honest I was hoping she would tell me the Amine/Salicylate dilemma was all rubbish so I could go back to living on Easy Street and feed my son all his favourite behaviour changing foods. When I asked her opinion she merely looked at me and asked what were my results from the challenges we had done. Aggressive, out of control behaviour with Amines and restless, silly behaviour from Salicylates. Not just my observations but also that of his Kindergarten (he is there for his second year). No more said really.
 
Thank you once again for all the effort you have put in regarding food intolerances. – Liz, Qld

My daughter cried a lot as a baby and suffered with severe asthma from a few months old.  When I sought a doctor's advice there was not much support with the excessive crying but she was prescribed medication to treat the asthma. The medication did relieve the breathing but it hyped her up and caused agitation.  At about the age of two I took her to a different doctor, she was really sick and he even considered that she may have Cystic Fibrosis due to the severity of the condition.
 
I breastfed and I now believe that breastfeeding may not have been the best option because our diet often consisted of tomato based pasta dishes, and also fruit and vegetables that I now know have a high salicylate content, which of course would have filtered to the baby.
 
As the years passed we were dealing with agitation, temper outbursts and ADHD-type behaviours although I never considered that she suffered from this condition and as a mother I always felt compassion and concern, and was desperate to find out what was causing this behaviour and severe agitation in this beautiful little girl. On the rare occasions that I would address the problem with a doctor in many ways I was relieved that a diagnosis was not offered because I did not want her on medications that are usually prescribed.
 
When she was 10 years of age I decided I needed to address this once again. Here is what turned out to be the answer:
 
I had made a doctor’s appointment to have one last go at getting to the bottom of this. I once again hoped the doctor did not suggest medication because even though I wanted help I really did not feel comfortable going down this road.

I was finishing my preparation to leave for the appointment. I had the radio and SUE DENGATE came on at that moment to speak about food allergies and intolerances. I could not believe it, I hadn't heard of Sue before but I thought "I have to listen to this", so I quickly turned the volume. Sue mentioned various additives and preservatives which affect many people but I still did not totally think that was what it was for my daughter. Then Sue mentioned SALICYLATES, immediately I found a pen and wrote it down (I had never heard of it before). I listened to the remainder of the radio presentation and then walked out the door.
 
The doctor still really did not have much to offer. So I asked him "have you ever heard of Salicylates?" He said he had, so I further asked he had any lists of the foods that contain salicylates which fortunately he did and gave it to me.
 
Reading about salicylates and learning where they are helped me to eliminate the foods from her diet and this was the answer. Life soon improved for everyone especially our daughter, including no more asthma. This is my story and I wish to express my gratitude and thanks to Sue for her wonderful work. – Lisa, SA

I came to your talk last year for my 8 year old son who was a little rascal and full on at school. We started the diet as a family for him-  and his problem turned out to be artificial colours and some other additives.

But the real surprise was my 12 year old son who was suffering from severe depression and had just started with a psychologist. He started slowly getting better and at first we thought the psychologist was helping but it was because we had changed our diet. His severe depression turned out to be due to amines and is gone completely on the diet. He is now a beautiful, happy boy. It wasn’t until we ate the old foods again that I realised what life had been like, and saw the difference. I would tell others to stick with it and persist because improvements can be subtle and gradual. My boys are achieving so much more at school.  Your work has changed their future, their lives and ours forever and we are profoundly grateful.

  • Congratulations on the Aldi win. And thanks for all your good work.- Margaret
  • Well done and thank you for your hard work. It has been great to see the changes over the years! After over 5 years we still reap benefits in our family of being failsafe. Unfortunately Aldi is not preservative and additive free. We got caught out recently, presuming that they would automatically cut out preservatives as well! So we still need to read labels even at Aldi! - Joy
  • Thank you to you for all you have done Sue!!!!!.- Camille
  • As a heads-up for those still "lost" and wondering if there is a cure, I strongly urge you to give up what I call the "trifecta" (i.e. artificial colours, flavours and preservatives). This covers most of the main culprits which cause most peoples' asthmatic conditions (in my opinion). - Mark
  • We've all been hit by the dreaded flu and only our 8 yo son who is fully failsafe has escaped it's grasp, healthy and happy - Kate
  • We are finding quite a significant difference with the a2 milk (as well as failsafe) - even in my husband who is asthmatic, his 'wheeze' is almost gone (until he decides to get take away food for lunch - you can't help some!!!!) I stumbled onto your site one night while I was researching a2 milk, and I love it - Cindy

My daughter bought the Fed Up book to help her son, my one year old grandson who was cranky, unable to sleep, hyperactive and constantly cleared his throat. After reading the book, I saw myself in the symptoms of night terrors, anxiety, depression and brain fogginess. So I joined him on the diet (we all live together) and I haven't had one night terror since. (Prior to this I was having at least 5 night terrors a week and hated going to bed.) I have had the occasional bad dream when eating off the diet, but nothing like they were. My anxiety lifted, the depression went away and for the first semester since returning to university I understood what they were saying, I participated in class and starting talking and laughing like a 'normal' person.

Before that I was constantly anxious, paranoid, stressed and felt 'stupid.' I thought people didn't like me, I wasn't good enough, and I was unmotivated to reach my goals.

My husband didn't believe in food affecting people, and was critical of our changes, however has seen remarkable changes in the baby and in me. He said to me recently 'what's the matter with you?' as I was sullen and quiet. I admitted I ate something off the diet (but I used to be like that most of the time). Now he cooks me failsafe meals at night and reads labels before buying foods.

I stay away from additives, salicylates, amines, glutamates and dairy. It can be difficult to eat a limited diet, but the world is so much more fun, it's worth it!

Thank you for writing the books and creating the DVD. It's given me back the opportunity to experience the wonderful life I have. - Monica

We are currently doing the elimination diet and are about to reintroduce foods. My son is 2 and has been a handful being constantly irritable, huge tantrums that are inconsolable lasting 30 mins or more 4-5 times a day, speech delay, no concentration, runny poos. He has been an angel since starting the elimination diet however took a backwards step at about 2.5 weeks. We discovered we had been giving him soy yoghurt with 160b in it. We took him off it and his symptoms cleared again. It was mostly behavioural issues such as tantrums. His poos weren't noticeably worse. – by email

Sleepless nights... what an understatement! We were averaging 2/3 hrs sleep a night when the kids' problems hit a peak. This went on for months.

We were at a loss as to what had taken over our family and was slowly breaking us all down to a point of no return. As parents, feeling helpless, exhausted, and desperate was quickly becoming our normal. For our children it was far worse, they were struggling constantly with scratching, bleeding and screaming in pain, day and night. Finding our 4 month old son bleeding in his cot was a regular occurrence. Then there were the times holding our 6 year old daughter while she screamed, thrashed, and clawed at her flesh causing it to bleed. All too often they were in unison and my husband held our baby trying to comfort him as he suffered the same way while I held our daughter.

A vicious cycle of skin infections, constant discomfort, and numerous trips to doctors who assured us it was just eczema only added to our desperation.

We knew the kids had allergies and avoided all the allergens as directed by specialists but unknowingly we were contributing daily to their severe discomfort by what we were feeding them - and it wasn't even a bad diet ... or so we thought!

Our life line came the day we saw Sue on the local news, she mentioned itchy skin rashes and I took notice! Life changed that day. Slowly but surely we eliminated the foods and personal care products that were causing this chaos.

It is our anniversary this month ...12 months failsafe and our gift is 2 beautiful children with silky smooth skin (we regularly run our hands over it amazed at the difference), no more rashes, itching or screaming through the night & guess what?... they are both calmer & more engaged ... behaviour was not our original motivation to become failsafe but we have noticed the changes in them in this area as well and what an absolute bonus that is.

Thanks Sue and Howard for your many years of research and hard work and also for giving us a place to turn when there seemed no where else to go, we are forever grateful – Deb (Deb is organising the Fedup Roadshow talk in Taree 2011)

Feb 2011: I live in the UK. Since childhood I have suffered from sporadic, mild eczema, but for the past 8 months I have had a severe rash, starting on my arms and legs and then spreading to my scalp and stomach. It has been unbearably itchy. In this time I have been prescribed Betnovate ointment and anti-histamines and been treated twice for scabies! The rash has eased several times and then come back again.

After reading about "ribo rash" I realised that I had been using instant gravy granules regularly during the past year and that these contain E635. I am also allergic to (British) chocolate and have to be careful not to eat too much, too often. I can, for some reason, tolerate Belgian chocolate though.

Thank you for the information on your site, it could be a turning point for me.

May 2011: I've cut additives out of my diet altogether but wine seems to be the culprit. Since I stopped drinking it the rash is very slowly clearing. I'm also mainly dairy free at the moment. When I'm clear I'll start to introduce these things back slowly and see what happens. Now that I've narrowed it down I need to pinpoint exactly what the cause is. It has made me realise though that a lot of the time we really don't know what we're eating!

June 2011: I'm able to let you know that sulphites would seem to be the problem. I'm managing to cut them out of my diet, although it's difficult as they masquerade under different names and are in most manufactured foods.

Unfortunately they're in most wines too in fairly large amounts and so I've also had to give up my favourite tipple. My rash has virtually disappeared, with just a few stubborn patches remaining, and it has left red marks which I'm sure will fade in time. A year of hell, really.

I hope my story might encourage other sufferers to 'turn detective'. It certainly hasn't been easy because my symptoms don't show straight away but it pays to be persistent – Lynn, UK

(There's no need to give up your favourite drink, SO2GO removes sulphites from wine - Sue)

I just wanted to say thank you so much for the website and books! My son has been on failsafe for 8 weeks now and it's like a cloud has been lifted from our family. We have our little boy back!!

Riley's physical problems started at about 2. His face was constantly covered in a horrible red rash. This rash moved to his bottom and his nappy area was full of blisters and skin so raw it would bleed. Sometimes it got so bad he couldn't walk properly because he was in so much pain.

At 3 the behavior problems started. Riley had little energy. He didn't play with toys much and preferred to be in front of the TV. He had a lot of fears and anxiety and most of all he was angry. Most of his anger was directed at me and he would hit, pick and slap me often. I would spend days in tears not knowing how to help him. At preschool it was pretty much the same, Riley had a very short fuse and the kids were all scared of him because of his outbursts.

Eventually they asked me to get him assessed because they believed something was wrong with him. I was told they couldn't handle him anymore and said he couldn't come back unless I did something about his behaviour. I tried lots of different things but nothing worked until I was told about failsafe.

The change in these short 8 weeks had astounded everyone. His teachers at preschool asked me who was this boy? he now is friends with everyone, hardly had outburst and often says I love you to his teachers followed with lots of cuddles and kisses. He has energy now. He doesn't want to watch tv, he wants to dance and run in the backyard and play games with me. He no longer hits me and our relationships is closer than ever. No more rashes either or anxiety!

He is affected by salicylates and we are soon going to test amines but I suspect he won't pass that challenge as he seems really grumpy the day after I have given him a banana or cheese.

I have been telling everyone about this diet and I will continue to share my story. Thanks so much. I can't even imagine how you have changed so many families. –Jodie, by email

My son is eight and daughter six years old respectively. We have been failsafe for approximately 7 years of that time. I thought I had it pretty much down what they could and couldn't have.

Last week however I stopped buying soy milk as my son was using so much of it, it wasn't funny. I have always tried to steer them to rice milk, which my daughter loves! thank goodness. The soy milk was for others in the home but our son loves it and stopped having the rice milk when soy was around.

I cut this out last week. I seem to have a different boy. We have always just thought that removing what we did know was causing problems was as good as it got. That he would always be a LOUD ACTIVE HYPER BOY. It was much worse if he ate things he shouldn't. He reacts quite badly to amines, salicylates, colours are atrocious for him etc.

Can it really be the soy? Can it really be this simple? My son is now receptive, loving, easy to talk to, to explain things to, has stopped whinging, being aggressive, doing annoying things to his sister and to us. Even stopped all the repetitive things as well.

As I write this he is sitting watching some tv, his room is clean, he is dressed for school, his jobs are done ie take the dog for a walk, feed the chickens etc. He is not 'in my face', he is not running around annoying his sister (she doesn't know what to do with this as she is so used to it, she is even trying to get his attention to be how he always is with her).

Wow, wow, wow. If it is not the soy milk then I am at a loss as to what it could have been. I now have a son that is sooooo easy to love and cuddle AND it has been a quiet house too, not just from him, but I don't feel the urge to yell to get my point across for the 15th time. The lesson here is - never give up trying to find what may be happening with your child. It probably is not normal, and you may be missing something. - Cathryn (see more about soy intolerance in [702], [605] and [314])

We've been the through the elimination process quite some years ago now. Best thing we ever did for our daughter (previously a tantrum throwing, oppositional monster) and our family as a whole. We are lucky in that we can get away with a lot. We actively avoid artificial additives but do let our children indulge at other people's birthday parties. We allow all of the natural foods but keep an eye on just how much salicylates are going in so as not to hit the threshold. Many thanks to you and Sue for all the work that you do. Without your books, website and forums - well, it makes me teary just thinking about what life would've been like. I am constantly referring other people to the website and the books, and regularly loan my copies out. I think I've helped a few people in doing so. – Tammy by email

I moved to Australia from India ten years ago. With a change in diet following different food produce/products/ cleaning products/fragrances/toiletries - everything - I started showing all sorts of allergic type reactions. After three years I had to visit a GP who sent me to allergy specialist, who diagnosed the problem as salicylate intolerance. Since then I went on the elimination diet and reintroduced foods gradually from low to higher levels of salicylates/amines. Though a long painstaking process, it was definitely beneficial. I understand now the symptoms had started in India, but were not too frequent, and guess what, took aspirin in those days not realising it made me worse!

Bread was causing me major headaches. Now I always buy the white bap from Bakers delight, and avoid bread altogether on weekends. Am more a rice eater for dinner, so that's helped me in some ways. Itchiness and other minor things I can handle, (and believe me I think I have shown all symptoms from eye tics to not sleeping well and having nightmares). Migraines cause the most problems, and more so as I will definitely have nausea and vomit and will have to lie down in a quiet dark room till I feel better. I cannot take ibuprofen at all, makes it worse.

Eating out is a major problem, though we do tend to eat home most of the time. Family and friends have been most supportive, and cook what I can eat. At work I am always asked what I can have when we have the morning teas or lunches out, so feel quite special. - Mita, by email

I have two girls aged 4 and 2 years and recently my two-year-old daughter Isabella had very bad tummy pain, bleeding gums, bad breath, a fissure on her bottom and blood in her stools. The first sign was the bleeding gums. They just kept getting worse and worse as we brushed and it hurt her to eat anything.

Then there was her tummy pain which was also getting worse. She was not gaining any weight (actually losing weight the year before but thought she was a fussy eater!) and is still very little for her age. I saw various doctors about her fissure and tummy pain and also mentioned her gums and no-one would help me. One doctor did say it was a fissure but didn't address the other issues.

She also had bad breath and was very whingy and clingy most of the time.

Anyway I decided to take her to our local University dentist as it is free and they are fantastic with kids. They ended up referring us to the Dentistry section at Westmead Childrens' Hospital. To cut a long story short they kept bringing people into the room until they reached the highest person in the place and he said he thought it was either Crohn's Disease or Leukaemia. After months of testing including a gum biopsy and an endoscopy and colonoscopy the Gastroenterologist confirmed it was Crohn's. They then got us back and said they want to trial her on a preservative free/additive free/antioxidant free diet. So off we went on the challenge to stop all these nasty foods.

They gave me a list of foods I could give her and a list to avoid. They said she could have milk, all fruit, vegetables, pasta etc as long as there are no additives. Anyway while researching one day I stumbled across something on your website. I knew of your website and it was helping me greatly but this day I was reading about Salicylates and Amines. I had NO IDEA what they were before that moment.

It suddenly occurred to me that I had been giving Isabella her favourite juice every morning, sometimes two cups. It was V8 Tropical juice which says it has no preservatives etc but I didn't realise about the salicylates. I stopped it that day and told her I had run out and had to go to the shop to buy more! (Saying that helps to avoid an argument!!) To my amazement her bad tummy pain stopped that day! I haven't given her the juice since and it's been about 3 months. Her gums got better, her fissure got better and her bad breath went away. She has had tummy pain now and then but I am fine-tuning her diet and think she could be totally sensitive to salicylates. I make my own washing detergent and wash her with Alpha Keri fragrance free but haven't gone as far as stopping my perfumed products like hairspray etc.

The purpose of this email is to send you a HUUUUUUGGGGGGEEE thank you for putting out the website and your books! I haven't come across anything on your site (maybe I've missed it) about the diet helping people with Crohn's Disease so maybe Isabella 's experience will help someone else.

If we had not have found your article about Salicylates then Isabella would have been put onto steroids at two years of age. The diet itself has changed our family greatly as well. My 4 year-old daughter is concentrating better, doesn't argue with me like she used to and isn't as emotional. Her learning ability has increased as well. I don't have restless leg syndrome anymore and I feel much better in myself.

The months before Isabella was diagnosed with Crohn's were unbearable and it was just horrible seeing my little girl go through all of that pain and not be able to fix it. Now, thanks to you, she is bouncing out of her skin and is a happy little two-year-old (with the occasional tummy pain).

It still brings tears to my eyes thinking about the past 6 months and what we've all been through. Everyone I run into I tell about it as there's probably someone else out there suffering but thinking they are eating healthy with all that fruit.

Update: Isabella has been getting through the capsule challenges very slowly. She didn't react to 'A' (I have no idea what they are) and 'B' she had a MAJOR reaction to so I'm looking forward to finding out what that was! She had all the symptoms of Crohn's back (except bleeding gums (although I think if we had of kept giving her whatever it was for a period of time that her gums would soon start to bleed again). Her behaviour was also just terrible. Words can't explain how defiant, grumpy, emotional etc she was. She also started to wet the bed! I felt really sorry for her that I gave her that on purpose. With all the ones she has reacted to (every one of them except 'A') it has taken a good week or so for all symptoms to disappear. I have noticed with everything she has like additives she develops a sore on the outside corner of her mouth. It gets really bad and then when she is back on the plain diet it heals. Very strange but I'll be able to tell when she's lying when she's older if she's had something she shouldn't! - Shelley, NSW

I am new to failsafe and have discovered that we didn't have a lot to change but what we have has made an enormous difference!

The biggest shock to me was the fruit and vege as the girls ate quite a lot of these, mainly grapes, strawberries, blueberries, apples and bananas with oranges and mandarins more recently (they are 5, 4 and 2 years old), and carrots, broccoli and zucchini with pumpkin and potato. I will be switching the 'bad' ones to the ones you have listed (not sure how I am going to go with this as only one girl likes pears and I can hear the protest to the cabbage now!).

We have never eaten a lot of takeaway as I have horribly sensitive skin (eczema and acne) and tend to avoid bread as it wreaks havoc with my tummy. I always believed fast foods made me (and since the children, them) feel awful the next day, not to mention the appalling behavior. There are lots of reasons for us trying failsafe, those I mentioned, then my husband has recently been diagnosed with irritable bowel syndrome and is asthmatic (worse I have learnt on sulphites). Our 4 year old is our test in life I am sure and she is the one in particular that reacts to artificial colours and preservatives.

We have long been eating mountain flat rye wraps in place of bread, especially on weekends for lunches and now they are more frequent during the week in lunchboxes. I usually bake all our smoko stuff and am more convinced than ever to continue doing that (just this morning we made the shortbread and cupcakes from your cookbook). I am much more aware now of Lily's reaction in particular to preservatives and salicylates and am starting to notice some reactions in our 2 year old. Funnily, the reaction does not seem as bad in the 5 year old, but I can see some things that she is sensitive too, especially since she seems to get rather nasty to her sisters after she eats those things, mostly the high salicylates.

Terrible thing when you start to look - just what I have been feeding my children and why they have been the way they have in terms of behaviour. I thought I was doing well too as we never had cordial or potato crisps and VERY rarely had lollies or other 'junk food'. I bought the organic fruit and vege and cooked most of our food myself.

Just a little story for you, we went out to dinner on Friday night for a celebration. Of course the children's menu was awful (chicken, fish or sausages, all with chips) and I thought to myself 'this will be interesting' as I had had Lily 'safe' for almost 2 weeks. The girls chose chicken and chips (the chicken was crumbed strips) and after they had finished eating the waitress bought them a bowl of ice cream with strawberry topping each. Before we left the restaurant Lily started yelling and screaming, crying, being really rude, obnoxious and just horrible. I left with her while my husband finished up and paid for the meal because she was unbearable. The next day was quite a treat too! All this within 15-20 minutes of eating the meal. As they say, the proof is in the pudding (or in this case, the whole meal)! – Cindy, Qld

I have had Chronic fatigue symptoms for 6 years and seen heaps of Doctors. I have tried an elimination diet and a vega allergy test diet through a doctor and not found much relief but am willing to try failsafe if it is different ... one year later ... I started the diet as soon as I read your book last year and found it made me feel much better, but I still felt very lethargic and felt something was wrong. I had been on the merry-go-round of Doctors for almost 7 years and finally they found late last year that I had a severe case of endometriosis. Immediately after the surgery I felt so much better! It was like a miracle. I was very angry because my symptoms had actually started 18 years prior and no one had picked it up!

I think my body had been struggling with it for so long, it was just packing it in. I really believe the diet gave my immune system the break it needed and probably kept me alive and going last year. I at least had the energy to keep annoying the Doctors, who had told me it was all in my head for years. While sick, on the diet, I basically could only stay on the lowest food chemicals. After surgery I gradually tested amines, salicylates and MSG and found I suddenly had no reaction to them like before. I believe this indicates that a stressed immune system doesn't cope with food chemical and additive overload. I have still to test additives/colours, but have just found it easier and healthier to avoid them. – by email, Qld

In 1995 I gradually developed CFS and was invalided out of work a year later. In late 1999 I began the RPAH elimination diet. Ten days later my brain fog and fatigue were greatly diminished. Challenges confirmed intolerance to dairy and gluten – which I had eliminated years previously – and indicated intolerances to salicylates, amines and glutamates.

In the following years I had a few relapses, usually lasting for no longer than a couple of weeks. The exception was a six months relapse, which ceased five days after I decreased my intake of vegetable oil and changed from canola to sunflower. (Both oils had no additives listed on the label).

In January 2007 I was feeling quite well and had no significant CFS relapse for a couple of years. At the beginning of February my energy plummeted. I needed to spend at least twelve hours a day lying down, instead of eight hours. Physical fatigue and brain fog returned in force. Six weeks later I bounced back, and was quite well for a few weeks, then I plummeted again. These irregular fluctuations continued throughout the year, but the highs got lower and the lows got lower. I became much more sensitive to amines.

In early February 2008 I went to Woolworths for grocery shopping. I picked up a bottle of sunflower oil and glanced automatically at the contents. In a way, I was not really looking because I 'knew' that nobody put additives into sunflower oil in Australia. But there it was: 'Sunflower Oil, Antioxidants E319, E320'. I squeezed my eyes tight, reopened them, and read the same thing. Then I grinned and imagined myself leaping into the air and clicking my heels. Yes!


I phoned Woolworths and was told that their sunflower oil had E319 and E320 since the beginning of 2007. But sometimes my wife bought sunflower oil from Coles. No, Coles had never put antioxidants into their sunflower oil. We take about six weeks to consume a one litre bottle of sunflower oil. I looked back in my diary and found that the length of my ups and downs were in multiples of six weeks. We swapped to Coles sunflower oil. Eighteen days later I was fully well again. – Ian, by email

In my opinion the worst food additives are those in the range of antioxidants 310-312 and 319-321 "The Nasty Antioxidants". As antioxidants are not considered to be preservatives (by regulators), and the suppliers/manufactures are not required to list these on the label, they are the most frustrating additives by far. At least with colours, you can readily see them and hence avoid them. Same with most other additives, they are usually on the labels in some sort of description. But the good old nasty antioxidants are secret unless you go to extreme lengths to ask the supplier of the food and then the manufacturer of the contents eg. vegetable oil what exactly are in their oils.

There are alternatives to the nasty antioxidants which are failsafe and haven't been associated with cancer in rats and possible genetic changes and also nausea, vomiting, ringing in the ears, delirium and collapse, children's behaviour just to name a few.

Even 'safe' foods like 'natural' ice cream cones can't be trusted. They change their oils on a regular basis and also the use of antioxidants from friendly ones (300-309) to nasty ones (310-321). I only found this out after my son experienced an ADVERSE REACTION to these cones and I telephoned the supplier and was told that they had changed their oil and it included BHA (320) & tBHQ (319).

What hope have we got for our children and ourselves if such nasty things are HIDDEN in our foods? I would just love for my son to be able to tolerate eating the occasional fish 'n chips on a Friday night just like I used to when I was a child. Is that so much to ask for? – mother from Victoria.

The labelling issue for antioxidants in oil ... is one that ticks me right off I have to say. I know the labelling laws have improved things a lot but to have to call the company before you eat a product is crazy. – dietitian from Australia.

Six months ago our daughter developed severe behavioural problems, including depression, lack of motivation, poor sleeping habits, lethargy and loss of enthusiasm. These were very uncharacteristic of a hard-working fulltime student and a complete puzzle to her concerned teachers. As a consequence, her exam results declined, as did her study performance.

Her problems were eventually traced to her consumption of home-baked products containing Dairysoft, a butter-oil blend manufactured by one of Australia's largest companies, the Murray Goulburn Co-Operative Ltd.

Our daughter is known to be affected by antioxidants 310-312 and 319-321 and several other food additives. Before she started using Dairysoft, verbal advice was obtained from Murray Goulburn that there were no antioxidants in the oil which comprised 22% of the product.

After months of increasing problems, we contacted Murray Goulburn again and were now that informed that the canola oil in the product did in fact contain 320, Butylated Hydroxyanisole.

Our daughter removed Dairysoft from her diet and she has since made a complete recovery, although there can be no compensation for the six months of pain and uncertainty which she suffered. Following complaints, Murray Goulburn have now correctly labeled this product, although without any food recall, product safety or public apology notice. – parents from Darwin.

About a month after being home from the hospital [for severe salicylate-sensitive asthma], I was wanting something to snack on and thought that I could eat the rice krispies type cereal, dry, as a crunchy snack. Interestingly, the first salicylate list they gave me had BHT/BHA and tartrazine listed on it. But I never looked at the label on the cereal. I just assumed that cereals were ok. Within 30 minutes of eating the rice krispies, I was wheezing, had hives, was itching and eyes swelled. Wasn't a super bad reaction, but bad enough to have to use medicines for it. We thought, this certainly couldn't be the cereal but it was the only thing that I had consumed different that day. When we looked at the label on the box, it said that the packaging had BHT in it. I couldn't figure out why they would put it in the packaging when it was the cereal they were trying to preserve!! But I did react and being that it wasn't quite as bad as most of my reactions are, I figured that the BHT from the packaging was enough to get into the cereal and give me that reaction. But just to be certain that it wasn't the malt I was reacting to that was in the cereal, we went to the health food store and bought some plain, rice krispies with just the rice and sugar, no preservatives, no fruit juices, etc...and I didn't react. From that moment on, I tried to make sure that I didn't ingest BHT or BHA. – reader from USA.

When my daughter was about four, she required Ventolin whenever she ate bread and so she ended up wheat free. The only time she has had asthma since last year was during the antioxidant (BHA, 320) challenge. You were right about the wheat - it is no trouble whatsoever. We realise now that our daughter was wheat free unnecessarily for years. – reader from NZ

My 3 year old's behaviour improved on the elimination diet at first but then he started getting worse and went back to what he was like before the diet - screaming fits, teary, really temperamental, waking at night. He was eating frozen oven fries every night but when I phoned the manufacturer (ingredients: potatoes, canola oil, salt) they told me there were no antioxidants in the oil. Two weeks later the company admitted that their product did contain unlisted BHA under the 5% loophole. – reader from WA

A Food Intolerance Network member phoned Goodman Fielder about Gold n Canola oil when she noticed that previously listed tocopherols had disappeared from the label. The consumer hotline officer advised her firmly that tocopherols had been replaced by TBHQ. Another member separately received the same advice. When we pointed out that TBHQ was not listed on the label, the company changed its tune and explained equally firmly that there were no antioxidants in the oil, eventually explaining they had been confused by TBHQ in the New Zealand product. Can we believe them? The wellbeing of our kids depends on word of mouth from people like this. – by Sue Dengate and thanks to readers from NSW and VIC.

In my study on the effect of the bread preservative on children's behaviour, we asked 27 children to follow a strict elimination diet (additive free, low in salicylates, amines and flavour enhancers) before starting double blind challenges. Only two of the children failed to improve on the diet within the first ten days. When I looked closely at their diet diaries, I noticed that both were eating large quantities of a particular Arnott's biscuit so I called the manufacturer. It turned out that the biscuits contained vegetable oil with unlabelled BHA under the 5% labelling loophole. As soon as the children stopped eating these biscuits, their behaviour improved as much as the others. – Sue Dengate (Arnotts started using oil free of nasty antioxidants throughout their entire range soon after this)

Just discovered - too late! - that Patak's plain pappadums (ingredients: lentil flour, rice flour, salt, vegetable oil, raising agent: sodium bicarbonate) contain unlisted BHA 320 in the oil. Very itchy and grumpy! – reader from SA

Our six year old son is intolerant to many preservatives, colours, flavours, gluten, dairy and food chemicals. Unless we control what we feed him on his very restricted diet, he reacts behaviourally and cannot learn at school or go forward in his treatment by his paediatrician.

Earlier this year, we were giving our son a gluten free bread mix which states on the packet, "preservative free". We had reason to trust this product because it was listed on the 'safe shopping guide' issued by the Australian Royal Prince Alfred Hospital, supplied by our dietitian.

This product was wonderful with it being so versatile in producing pancakes, bread, crumpets, wraps and pizza bases all from this one mix. Our son was able to enjoy more variety without feeling deprived. Once I increased the dose of this product for our son, i.e. pancakes for breakfast, French toast for lunch and a wrap for after school, within a day he displayed explosive behaviour and was unreasonable.

We did not suspect foods as it was listed as safe and the company was a reputable company.

We rang our paediatrician who advised us to cut down on his supplement. After a week there was no change, even at school our son's teacher was noticing a big difference in behaviour and learning. The paediatrician advised a blood test, another week passed for the results which in turn came back within normal range. Only then did we suspect foods. The Food Intolerance Network always advises their members to check products containing fats or oils for hidden synthetic antioxidants. I rang our supermarket to double check if there were any changes in their sunflower oil that we use, and they advised there were none. I then rang the bread company and spoke to their Quality Operations Officer. I asked if there were any synthetic antioxidants in their product in question, he said he was pretty sure there wasn't. We insisted that he double check because we were at wits' end and we were ready to have our son's head scanned because he was so aggressive and erratic in his behaviour. The man rang back in shock and was very apologetic, because the oil which was supposed to be 'pure canola oil' as stated on the ingredients list, in fact had synthetic antioxidant 319 in it.

We were relieved but angry, our son was put through four weeks of hell, not to mention us as well, because he could not control what he was doing, and it took well over a week for the affects to wear off. We had our good boy back and he even said, "Mummy please don't give me bad food any more"!

When our son has had foods with hidden synthetic antioxidants in them, we consider the reaction our son displayed as life threatening, for example, when our son becomes enraged with fury, usually over something trivial, he has run out onto the road. Another time when I was driving down the mountain on hair pin bend roads, enraged, our son got hold of my hood on my jacket and was pulling on it while I was doing my best to manoeuvre the car down the road without hitting the guard rails and going over the cliff. We believe that these antioxidants should at all times appear on the label. – L....., NSW (Thanks to this mother, Laucke's gluten free bread is now free of nasty antioxidants)

When my son started on the elimination diet at first he wouldn't eat much and was drinking a lot of soymilk. After he had been drinking So Good soymilk for two years, he got very sick and suffered severe constipation for over 6 months. I couldn't get a straight answer from the manufacturer, at first they denied their product contained antioxidants. I was given the wrong information for two years until they agreed they were using an oil containing 319 (TBHQ). After I complained to the council they changed their labelling or was it just a coincidence? I don't think it's good enough. I switched my son to another brand of soymilk and he did much better but I'm just so angry about manufacturers getting away with making our children sick with what they put in their foods. – M....., NSW (Thanks to the dedication of this mother, Sanitarium So Good is now free of nasty antioxidants)

I have two young boys with autism and severe food intolerances. They become exceedingly ill when consuming any gluten, dairy or soy product, and I have kept these products from their diet successfully for the past 5 years. My children are also severely intolerant of various food additives, including BHA. Two days ago I purchased a carton of Rice Milk, and after one glass both of my children suffered stomach pains and diarrhoea; and the elder son suffered shaking, sweating, and fever. Both boys behaviour became extremely hyperactive and suffered erratic mood swings. (Thanks to this mother and the one below for contacting the manufacturer, the Vitasoy range is now free of nasty antioxidants) – N..., WA

My 11 year old asthmatic daughter is extremely sensitive to additives. After she reacted to some ricemilk recently, I emailed Vitasoy and expressed my disappointment with their company for not listing the BHA. Today I received a phone call from the manager to apologise for the unlisted BHA. What a turn around, the company were genuinely distressed that their health food had caused an asthmatic reaction and were willing to modify the product in due course. (Thanks to this mother and the one above for contacting the manufacturer, the Vitasoy range is now free of nasty antioxidants) – S...., NSW

We know that our 5 year old daughter is intolerant of all the nasty additives, colours, preservatives etc. I was very surprised in the 'Food Tables for People Sensitive to Ingredients or Allergens' (http://www.mcdonalds.com.au/PDFs/AllergenList.pdf) at what they are claiming - no additives in their nuggets or fries!! Certainly not what my daughter's additive radar indicates because last time she ate there, we had her up in the night screaming with "night terrors" and three days of ODD attitude. – K...., Vic

(Antioxidants are not regarded as preservatives so are not listed in the Ingredient and Allergen table. In the full ingredients list you can see that the fries are cooked in canola oil blend with BHA 320 http://www.mcdonalds.com.au/PDFs/IngredientListing.pdf)

I have always been sensitive to perfumes and cleaning products. Until I was 27, the worst allergy that I had suffered was to hair dye which resulted in an all over body rash and swollen lymph glands.

Then about two years ago I had an allergic reaction to some potato chips. This reaction caused my tongue to swell and slight breathing difficulties. However the swelling went down and my breathing went back to normal with antihistamines. Originally I suspected that flavour enhancers were responsible for my reactions. However I have since eaten food with these additives and have not had any reactions. I began avoiding dairy products believing that I had had an allergic reaction to some milk powder in flavouring on the chips. Following this incident, maybe a few weeks later, I went out to lunch with a work colleague to a fast food restaurant and ordered the chilli. As I was still under the impression it was dairy at this point, I felt it was a safe choice.However about 15 minutes after I had finished eating, I started to have difficulty breathing. This was a feeling of a tightening throat and heavy chest. I took antihistamines and could tell that it was not working. So I was driven to a doctor straight away. The doctor almost immediately gave me adrenaline. With this my breathing returned to normal and I was taken to hospital for observation overnight.

As a result of this reaction I was sent to see an immunologist. After discussing my reactions and having skin prick tests done for "standard" allergens (which were all negative), I was instructed to keep a food diary and cross reference the food ingredients that were in my "bad' foods to see if a process of elimination could determine the allergen that had given me my reactions. My immunologist contacted the fast food restaurant to obtain the recipe for me, so that I could begin to eliminate ingredients that had not caused my reaction.

The result was two food additives: 319 (in the oil the potato chips were cooked in) and 385 a preservative used in the beans of the chilli. My immunologist had never come across anyone with this type of reaction to 319 or 385, but agreed with my food diary analysis. Since I discovered this I read the label of everything that I eat. Unfortunately I have had one more serious reaction to food additive 319, due to a misunderstanding between myself and a relative who used oil with additive 319 to cook otherwise additive-free fresh meat. So I now avoid foods (mainly oils and foods cooked in oils) with these additives and have not had a reaction since. My sensitivity to perfumes and cleaning products has become worse since the development of my allergy. My sensitivity to perfumes and cleaning products has become worse since the development of my allergy and I was warned that since my allergy developed as an adult that there may be other additives that I can become sensitive/allergic too. – Caroline, by email (Presumably the original allergy to a hair dye was to 319 TBHQ, see LaCoz reference in 320 Synthetic Antioxidants Factsheet)

I am writing to thank you for all the help your book 'Fed up with Asthma' has given my family. My daughter is two and a half years old, and was diagnosed with asthma when she was 10 months old. She was hospitalized with croup and later we were told she has asthma. She was put on a steroid puffer and I was told she would need this for most of her childhood.

I knew that food additives were not safe and I tried not to buy anything with 'numbers' on the back of the packs, which proved to be difficult. Still this didn't seem to help, I also put her on goats milk and took her off all other dairy products.

I took her to an asthma pediatrician, three months ago. He gave her an allergy prick test which came back totally negative. She was allergic to nothing! The doctor assumed that food was not a cause of her asthma. I was told that the cold winter nights were triggering her asthma, to go home and put her back on her steroid puffer. This winter she seemed to get worse. As the cold nights set in, her coughing increased to the point that I was up every 20 minutes comforting her. I was desperately trying to keep her off the steroid puffer and I was about to give in, when I saw your book.

My daughter has now been on the elimination diet for three weeks with amazing results. By the end of the first day she coughed only once, same the second day and the next two days nothing. At the end of the second week I made a mistake. I bought a packet of plain rice crackers, the ingredients: rice, canola oil and salt. I thought they would be okay (I realised later they probably contain antioxidants in the oil), so my daughter had quite a lot as a snack. That night she was back to coughing every two minutes and using her ventolin puffer. After 24 hours she was okay again and back on the failsafe diet. I realise that we still need to discover her sensitivities but for now she can breath easy with no barking cough and we can both have a good nights sleep. If it hadn't been for your dedication to this cause I don't where we would be today. Thank you. - reader from WA

The food that I react to the worst is oil because of the 321 BHT manmade antioxidant and 320 BHA, and then I also react to all the foods that the oil is in. For example: most frozen pastries - like sausage rolls, party pies, family pies, pastry sheets, even some gelati/sorbet as well. Homebrand mint slice biscuits - they are shocking, having both 320 and 321! All margarines, and spreadable butters - if you can spread it, it's in there. Also as you know, because there is a limit on how much they can put in before they have to mention the additive - I get caught out easily with a lot of foods because I don't know if the 321 is in there and I might take the risk. Most foods just frustratingly say 'oil' but they never say what is in the flipping oil! Where I used to live, there were two different fish and chips shops, one I would get very sick from, the other I would be fine. I can only cook with a few brands of oil and pure butter, because even a teaspoon of a spreadable butter mixed into a huge pasta bake makes me very ill.

First thing that happens is I start to get an uncomfortable feeling in my gut, right across the middle. Sometimes, it's only gas, but it's chronic gas - the kind that gives you extreme abdominal discomfort until it's released and then it's foul smelling. And it's never just one, they go for hours. If I don't get extreme gas, I'll get the uncomfortable feeling in my stomach that feels like pain soaking into my gut trickling through like spidery fingers and within 20 minutes if I'm not on a toilet quick smart, I am in extreme pain. Pain that stabs through my guts and makes me intensely sensitive to the cold, so if the toilet is cold, which most usually are and I don't have a big jacket on I am in serious pain/trouble. While all that is happening on the toilet, I am experiencing extreme diarrhoea. - B....., Vic

At Christmas we went for a month's holiday to New Zealand. I got slack on avoiding preservatives so he was eating lots of peanut butter with BHA (320). The worst thing is that we didn't really think about what was causing his deteriorating behaviour, but just battled through our holiday trying to cope with it. We returned home but it wasn't until he returned to school and went from an average maths student at the end of 2003 to bottom of the class in a remedial group at the start of 2004, and looking back at the horrendous hour-long tantrums we were experiencing at home, that I seriously started questioning what was going on. Living with him was like treading on eggshells. At the end of one particularly distressing tantrum he said he hated himself and hated the way he felt. His teachers said he has NO concentration. I had noticed this myself at home during the holidays but STILL didn't think of diet! He had also totally lost interest in playing the piano which he was mad keen on before we went on holidays. He said it was too hard.

I phoned Woolworths to double check on the ingredients in their gluten free Kerry Formula bread. They told me they don't put preservatives in their bread. Then when I asked specifically about E320 she said, oh yes, it has that.

Anyway, apart from 320 being in the bread he was eating 2-3 times a day, I'm not sure of what other preservatives he's had, but for nearly 2 weeks now he's been off them all and his behaviour has become quite reasonable. He has again become excited about playing the piano, and I have my lovely little boy back. Even my husband who is a bit of a 'disbeliever' until he is thoroughly convinced has noticed a big difference.

I can't believe I let all of this happen. And when it was happening I can't believe I didn't see it earlier. It's scary that chemicals permitted in our foods can have such an extreme effect. My son avoids gluten because he hates being sick. There is no problem there. But preservatives are more difficult. I can keep him off them now, but when he's a teenager will he have to become antisocial and drop to the bottom of the class again and reach rock bottom before he is determined to avoid them, because at the moment he can't, or doesn't want to, understand the connection. It's very hard, but when I feel sorry for myself or him I just remind myself that at least we know what the problem is. Wouldn't it be awful having that sort of behaviour and not knowing why? – reader from NSW.

Our very aggressive five year old improved dramatically on the elimination diet. We were quite surprised and relieved that he passed most of his challenges except for a few additives such as artificial colours. However, after several weeks of excellent behaviour, he gradually deteriorated to the stage where he was uncontrollable, breaking windows and punching others. We were at a loss to explain the downturn. Eventually, we found the culprit - unlabelled BHA 320 in vegetable oil used in a gourmet garlic paste that we had started to use more frequently. There was no effect when it was eaten occasionally, but it caused catastrophic results when used every day. – reader from the NT

Over the years, I have had some quite serious reactions to foods containing the antioxidants BHA and BHT. I have been advised that the reason for my particular sensitivity is genetic deficiency of an important protease inhibitor protein. I have a 70 percent deficiency of Alpha1-protease inhibitor (aka alpha1-antitrypsin, alpha1-serpin).

PI deficiency is the most common genetic disorder, affecting about 15 percent of Australians (The pi gene is co-dominant, with about 1 in 400 Australians carrying the severe deficiency). The protease inhibitor is a down-regulator of inflammatory processes associated with a number of metabolic pathways, particularly the myeloperoxidase (MPO) pathway. Consequently, I have adverse reactions with exposure to a number of substances at levels that are generally considered to be safe for persons with the normal pi genotype.

I am very concerned about the wider use of these substances as food additives, particularly where the use of additive is not described on the product packaging. – reader from NSW.

Your website is a real life saver for all us FED UP with Doctors & Medical Industry & Food Manufacturers - Cher by email

I have a mast cell activation disorder that seems to result in amine and salicylate sensitivity, but I have felt much, much better since discovering failsafe eating – Monica by email.

I just want to say a huge thank you to yourself, Sue and your team of volunteers. We have managed to keep both our children off all medication for hyperactivity and ADHD diagnosis through your diet and recommendations. Whilst it is hard and we slip up - it is worth it. - Leonie, Sydney

The information and support I had from your food intolerance network changed my life incredibly at a time when I really couldn't see an end to the challenges I was experiencing ... and for this I will be forever indebted to you both ... I continually forward people onto your website and books for help – Tina by email

Thank you Sue, we are so blessed that you willingly share your knowledge ... and truly care about people. – Joy, by email

I knew I react to glutamates and I believed intolerance to gluten but I recently went on holiday and ate bread daily - I normally eat bread about once a week – and had very few fruit and vegetables and felt like a different person, looks like a lot more reading and strict elimination may have to be carried out now - Sharon, by email

From your fantastic website I have just found a local butcher who makes failsafe sausages! - by email

I am currently seeing a dietitian for my salicylate problem, which is helping me heaps. I am not on the full strict diet any more as we have worked out I can tolerate Low and a couple of Moderate level foods but if I have too many then the problems start up. I didn't know about medication and perfumes, so I am going to go through my cabinet and start to replace. The funny thing was I didn't link my problems with my daughter’s problems with behaviour until I was reading your website and now I see how it is all linked. - Fiona, Qld


Beaconsfield: P&F actively aims to have low additive foods: The parents and friends association at Beaconsfield Primary school in Victoria actively aims to have low additive foods in our canteen ... One of the products has artificial colour - flavoured milk  and this product was chosen because it had less additives than other flavours. Most of the other products are “nasty” free, and they even have 2 failsafe products! - Miriam, Vic

Our school seems intent on using "red light" days to the extreme with the selling of "spider drinks" – artificially coloured soft drinks and ice cream.

Sydney Metro school: My eldest has the biggest reactions to non-failsafe food, however my youngest son just started school this year. I have also increased my days at work and taken up tertiary study. With less spare time, I figured using the full canteen facilities at our school would help me out and save me some time. I can order and pay online, up to 1 week in advance, so this suited me. Unfortunately when I look at the menu, apart from sandwiches (cheese, salad, ham, chicken roll, vegemite, jam and honey!!) the other hot or substantial food and snacks are all foods they can't eat.

flavoured milk
fruit juices
dips with crackers
raisin toast
potato with cheese
Mrs Mac pies
Hokkien noodles
lasagne, Mac & Cheese & Spag Bol
flavoured chips

They go to a great school that does a wonderful job of looking after the children. The canteen is also very proud of the fact that they have rated very highly in the accreditation for Healthy Canteen program (mostly green lights, and only some orange, No red lights), however I too feel they have overlooked the fundamentals when it comes to ingredients.

The school is large with over 800 students, the canteen is very busy and has 1 full time paid staff member and on average of 3-6 parent helpers every day. With this number of student customers, I would like to think they would be very interested in settling them all down by introducing food that has a more beneficial impact on their classroom behaviour.

The school canteen at the Glen Huon Primary School is only open once a week and is run by volunteers. As part of the policy the canteen avoids the additives as listed on your website. There are products available on the shelf at the local supermarket, it is just a matter of reading the labels. Sometimes the products we purchase do cost more and do not last on the shelf as long but it is worth the little bit of extra effort. The changes at Glen Huon came about from the parents requesting 'no artificial flavours, colours and nasty preservatives'. So get other parents to let their school canteens know what they want. – by email


Our canteen at Warnervale Public School used to be "a healthy canteen" that met all the government requirements. It was stocked with every food known to man that was loaded with additives. With a push from a couple of parents and the full support of the Principal and Assistant Principal, the canteen has been slowly changed as foods were sourced to replace current ones, and finally we just deleted every food that didn't meet the no chemical additive requirement. The one exception being the bread, but we're working on that. This included not only colours, but preservatives and flavours as well. The weekly menu was completely overhauled and although it has been difficult at times with a couple of upset parents, we have had far more support for the changes than opposition. It's an ongoing education for parents, as there is so little true understanding of what 'healthy' actually is. What many parents consider healthy actually isn't. We have sourced sausages and meat patties which are additive free and contain 40% vegetables. We sell juice by the cup that is 100% additive free. The only milk for sale is plain milk. We have worked up a slushie recipe (as they are so popular) that is additive free. Anyway, you get the picture. – by email


I would like to mention that I recently purchased all of Sue's books so I could expand on our recipes. When I bought these my husband decided that we (as the parents) should go through the elimination diet. We are both diagnosed adult ADHD. We are on week 2. By the end of week 1, I was overjoyed with a diet response. I have suffered with a "mysterious unexplainable" skin disease since I was about 10. I have seen Chinese doctors, acupuncture, naturopaths, had biopsies taken of the sores, etc. Nobody could give me a diagnosis so we put it down to a stress trigger.   I would get a pussy looking pimple that got itchy. I would scratch it and it would blow open into an ulcer. Within 3 days I would have an ulcer the size of the top of my little finger. I had to keep cool bathing and in severe cases wash in Pinetarsol to heal the wound up. Right through primary school, high school - my whole life. First week on the diet and for the first time in my life (I am now 41), I don't have a sore on me. No pimple looking things, nothing. My skin has never been like this. My husband made a joke last night and said he looked forward to having a Christmas party this year where I could wear a sleeveless dress. During teenager years (when I was obviously eating most of the nasty foods) I could have up to 40 ulcers on my legs and arms at a time – Leona, ACT

I have suffered from severe asthma since I was 18 months (current age = 29). I have been completing the elimination diet with the supervision of my GP because there are no supportive dietitians here.

So far I have passed the following challenges: salicylates, amines, propionates, sorbates, benzoates, colours, nitrates and sulphites. I have failed: dairy, lactose free dairy, and MSG/natural glutamates. When I was little I use to react to milk with asthma after half a glass but always thought it was only milk that set me off, not all of the other dairy products too. I reacted to the milk challenge by day 2. With the lactose free milk, I actually woke up in the middle of the night with quite bad asthma. I have also found that my skin has improved, my post nasal drip has pretty much gone and my sinus pains have been almost nonexistent since beginning elimination.

I completed the MSG/natural glutamate challenge and failed on the 3rd day. Asthma became quite bad and I needed ventolin for next 3 days after. I had to use Buteyko breathing a lot to feel ok. Also found that I fell into a blubbering heap for 2 days after the challenge, not much fun!

I am doing it by myself and have found it extremely challenging socially but I am coping. I was so unwell last year that I just had to do something else. This was suggested by my homeopath. Thank you so much for spending the time on Fed Up.

My asthma has improved significantly, from 1600 mg pulmicort and an average of 8 puffs of ventolin a day (in the week before beginning elimination) to 800mg pulmicort a day and I haven't had any ventolin since failing the MSG/natural glutamate challenge so the last puff would have been a month ago. My doctor is hesitant to reduce this dosage of pulmicort as my asthma is also impacted through environmental factors such as weather changes. I have even been attending fitness classes again, which is so exciting and haven't needed ventolin so far. I have been able to just use my Buteyko breathing if feeling a bit of tightness. Feels like I'm getting control back on my life! - :) Jade, South Australia


We started the strict elimination diet a year ago and have been following it since then for my 6 year old son because he was diagnosed with encopresis, given drugs that didn't work and was soiling his pants every day at school. Horrible. When we started the diet we had amazing success. He started pooing in the toilet every day and the pants soiling stopped almost immediately. The only time that this happened again for all of last year was when he was reacting to something through challenges or by something that snuck into his diet.  – Toni


I am about to embark on the strict elimination diet for the 3rd time, but I am trying to pinpoint what went wrong the 2nd time round – I was consistently bloating but not as severely as normal - versus the 1st time round when I felt fantastic. Using your salicylate and amine mistakes information sheets and the product updates on the fed up site, I have so far picked up the following errors: Coles Pears in Syrup snackpacks (contained pear juice), Simply Wize Crusty Bread (maize flour), Dovedale Rice & Chia Bread (Chia seeds), and the wrong Cenovis multivitamin (Once Daily Women's Multi, contains evening primrose oil). Thanks for all of your help and detailed knowledge, I think I would have been doing many more things wrong in the diet without having the fed up site to look at. - Belinda, by email


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