Fedup Newsletters




Newsletter of the Food Intolerance Network

February - March 2003


FAILSAFE supports people using the low-chemical elimination diet recommended by the Australian Royal Prince Alfred Hospital - free of additives, low in salicylates, amines and flavour enhancers - for health, behaviour and learning problems.


The FAILSAFE Newsletter is now available free by email. Just send your email address to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.




Research Boosting nutrition cuts prisoner offences by more than a quarter - the Aylesbury study, MSG linked to eye damage, Coeliac Disease more common that thought, Toxic Factor in Gluten Identified, The cocktail effect: one ingredient makes the body more sensitive to another ingredient


In brief: Prozac, Wine without hangover, Unlabelled sulphites linked to cat's death


Readers' stories: [243] - [230]


Product updates: Sulphites in gluten free flours, Sausage casings, Sanitarium So Good soymilk (fresh), Toothpaste


Cooks Corner: Chicken and leek frittata, Potato crackers, Pear Clafoutis

Hello everyone, I hope you're enjoying a failsafe new year. I've already heard from many of you who broke the diet over Christmas - thus demonstrating to family, friends and yourselves just why you are doing this. In the newsletter this month there is some more interesting diet-related research and, as always, some fascinating reader's stories.

My new book, Fed Up with Asthma, will be in the bookstores on March 3rd and I'll be on tour from 17th-20th March. Failsafers are very welcome to come up and say hello before and after the talks, see schedule below.

Don't forget to bookmark our new web address: www.fedup.com.au


- cheers, Sue Dengate (This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.)



Boosting nutrition cuts prisoner offences by more than a quarter - the Aylesbury study


Adding vitamins, minerals and other nutritional elements to the diets of young offenders held in custody can cut the offences they commit by more than 25%, say researchers in Britain. The findings, published in the British Journal of Psychiatry in June 2002, have major implications for the prison population ­ and potentially for antisocial behaviour across the general community where poor diets are consumed.

Some 230 young offenders at a young offenders institution in Aylesbury, Buckinghamshire, volunteered to take part in the study. They were assessed over an eighteen-month period, with half receiving pills containing vitamins, minerals and essential fatty acids and the other half placebo capsules. While prison staff distributed the coded capsules, the study organisers recorded the number and type of offences each of the young prisoners committed, nine months before the trial and for nine months while getting the capsules.

The supplement group committed a quarter fewer offences compared to those on placebo. The greatest reduction was for serious offences, including violence, where there was a drop of nearly 40%. In each case there was no reduction in offending for those taking placebo capsules. The researchers conclude: "Ensuring the prisoners got adequate vitamins, minerals and essential fatty acids each day caused a reduction in antisocial behaviour to a remarkable degree."

The prisoners were given a daily multivitamin and mineral tablet providing nutrients at approximately the recommended daily allowance and similar to the Macro Multi M recommended on the failsafe diet (see factsheet on supplements), for example, 75 mg of Vitamin C. As well, they were given fatty acid supplements: 1260 mg of Linoleic acid (omega 6) - found in safflower, sunflower and soybean oils; 160 mg of Gamma linoleic acid (omega 6) - found in evening primrose oil; 80 mg of Eicosapentaenoic acid (omega 3) - found in fish especially tuna and salmon oil and canned sardines, lesser amounts in other fish; 44 mg of Docosahexaenoic acid (omega 3) - in fish as above, also produced less efficiently from Alpha-linoleic acid found in linseed and canola oils. Note that fish oil supplements are not failsafe but may be tested as a challenge, see the Supplements factsheet on our website.

More information about the Ayslesbury study: www.physiol.ox.ac.uk/natural.justice/ Resources/PressPack.pdf

See also article on thiamine deficiency and sulphites, below.



MSG linked to eye damage


Controversy surrounding flavour enhancer MSG (621) was re-ignited when a Japanese researcher suggested last year that consuming too much of the additive could make you go blind.

Researchers at Hirosaki University in Japan have found that rats fed diets high in MSG suffer vision loss and have thinner retinas than those in the control group. Glutamate, a group of chemicals that includes MSG, is an amino acid that acts as a neurotransmitter. It has already been shown to cause nerve damage in experiments where it is injected directly into the eye.

In the Japanese study, rats were fed three different diets for six months, containing either high or moderate amounts of MSG, or none. In rats on the high-MSG diet, some retinal nerve layers thinned by as much as 75 percent, and tests that measured retinal response to light showed they could not see as well. Rats on the moderate MSG diet also had damage, to a lesser extent.

While the amount of glutamate in the rats' diets was extremely high, it is possible that lower dietary intakes could produce the same effects over several decades.

Ohguro and others. A high dietary intake of sodium glutamate as flavoring (Ajinomoto) causes gross changes in retinal morphology and function. Experimental Eye Research 2002; 75(3):307-15.



Coeliac Disease more common that thought


New research shows that some people with no obvious symptoms of the digestive disorder coeliac disease can, in fact, have the condition.

In a survey of more than13, 000 people living in the US, the authors found that, among people with a close relative-such as sibling, child or parent--with coeliac disease, one out of 22 also had the condition. One in every 39 people with a second-degree relative--such as a grandparent, aunt, uncle or cousin-with the condition had coeliac disease. One in 56 people with classical gastrointestinal symptoms had the disorder; and one in 133 of people with no genetic risk factors for or symptoms of coeliac disease, did, in fact, have the condition.

Over time, coeliac disease can damage the small intestine and interfere with the normal absorption of nutrients from food. The only treatment for the illness is a diet that strictly avoids foods that contain gluten, a protein found in wheat, rye and barley.

However, it may take years for the typical patient with coeliac disease to be properly diagnosed. When patients are unaware of their condition, coeliac disease may go unchecked, and lead to other conditions, such as osteoporosis, due to inadequate intake of calcium or other nutrients.

A simple blood test can diagnose whether someone without the 'classical' symptoms of coeliac disease - chronic diarrhoea, bloating and weight loss - does, in fact, have the illness. The study authors recommended that anyone with one risk factor for coeliac disease be tested. Those with certain conditions, such as type I diabetes, Down syndrome, anaemia, osteoporosis, infertility and short stature may be at higher risk for the disease.

Early diagnosis of coeliac disease can help reverse such conditions. For instance, if a 20-year-old with coeliac disease has developed osteoporosis as a result of an inability to absorb calcium from his diet, simply eliminating gluten will help him get the calcium he needs and recoup some of his lost bone.

Fasano and others, Prevalence of celiac disease in at-risk and not-at-risk groups in the United States, Archives of Internal Medicine 2003;163:286-292.



Toxic Factor in Gluten Identified


Researchers at Stanford University in California have identified a 33-amino acid peptide, a breakdown product of gluten, which apparently triggers the autoimmune response in the small intestine of coeliacs.

The researchers believe their findings may result in a simple, oral supplement that would alleviate the harmful effects of gluten. This treatment approach would be similar to enzyme supplements taken orally by those unable to digest lactose. - Science, September 27, 2002.



The cocktail effect: one ingredient makes the body more sensitive to another ingredient


The cocktail effect is the effect of two toxic, or potentially toxic, chemicals when taken together rather than separately. Such effects are known to occur with some mixtures of chemicals, with one ingredient making the body more sensitive to another ingredient. This sometimes occurs because both chemicals require the same enzyme to break them down. Chemicals such as pesticides and food additives are only ever tested singly, not in combination with other chemicals that may be consumed at the same time, so no allowance is made for cocktail effects. - Definition from the Hutchinson Dictionary of Science, 1996, Oxford.


In brief


From the medical journals


Prozac: As of January 2003, Prozac has been officially approved for children aged 7-17 in the US. Previously prescriptions of Prozac for children have been 'off-list' . The potential market is huge, with doctors estimating that 25 per cent of children and 8 per cent of adolescents in the US have depression. - New Scientist, 11/1/03 p7.

Wine without hangover? 'Most wine hangovers are not only due to alcohol' says South African wine researcher Florian Bauer. A big culprit is neurotoxic amines produced by spoilage bacteria. Another is sulphur dioxide, 'a ubiquitous additive that kills bacteria but can make you feel rough as a badger's backside in the morning'. Bauer and others are using GM techniques to produce wine-making yeast which would do away with undesirable compounds. But they say they have no plans to make GM wine - their ultimate aim is to produce the same wine yeasts without genetic engineering. New Scientist, 21/12/02, p32-35.


Unlabelled sulphites linked to cat's death


The health of an 11 year old cat with dermatitis worsened when it was put on a diet of fresh kangaroo meat. Despite hospitalisation, the cat died after a month. An autopsy suggested thiamine deficiency as the cause of death. The remaining kangaroo meat was analysed and found to contain up to 325 mg/kg of unlabelled sulphur dioxide.

Sulphite preservatives are known to destroy Vitamin B1 (or thiamine) in foods, so sulphites should not be added to foods which contain significant amounts of thiamine such as meat. Although sulphites are prohibited in mince for humans, they are used by unscrupulous butchers and permitted in sausages at 500 mg/kg. Signs of thiamine deficiency include: fatigue, insomnia, irritability, loss of appetite, irregularity, heart and circulatory disturbances, digestive disturbances, muscle tenderness, weight loss, forgetfulness, lassitude and mental inadequacy. Gross deficiency results in beriberi, a fatal heart disease.

The cat's veterinarian concluded: 'this case study confirms that the problem of unsafe, uncontrolled and undeclared use of sulphites in the fresh, frozen and packaged pet meat industry in Australia, identified earlier [in a 1991 study of thiamine deficiency in cats and dogs], has not been addressed'. Steel RJS, Thiamine deficiency in a cat associated with the preservation of 'pet meat' with sulphur dioxide'. Australian Veterinary Journal, 1997;75(10):719-721.


A book about Aspergers Sydrome


Lise Pyles gave the school system five years - including two years of preschool - to figure out how to make things work for her Aspergers son John. Then it was her turn. She gave up her highly paid career, threw away the Ritalin, switched to diet and homeschooled him for three years. Her story shepherds readers through the confusion, tears, anguish and laughs. From answers to quirky questions : 'If I'm not having a good time at my birthday party, why can't I go watch TV?', to school issues in 3 countries (USA, UK, Australia), this book is packed with helpful tips. Frustratingly for failsafers, although John reacted to oranges, grapes, raisins, apples and cherries, the family never tried a full elimination of salicylates - but they found a diet which worked for them anyway. Lise's persistence resulted in a happy ending for her son. If your child is having trouble with school - Aspergers or not - read this book.


Hitchhiking through Asperger Syndrome by Lise Pyles, Jessica Kingsley Publishers, 2002, www.jkp.com


Diet not working as well as you'd hoped?


One tiny mistake can make a huge difference. For fine-tuning, see the list on the website Checklist of common mistakes. With new guidelines for extra sensitive salicylate responders, thanks to Robin from the email discussion group. Readers tell us this list is very useful.


Readers' stories


[243] Body rash, dizzy, shortness of breath (February 2003)


Thank you for spreading the word about poisons in our food. I'm a single mum from North Queensland. I have eaten calamari all my life with no problems whatsoever. But about two years ago I woke up one night to find myself very itchy with a body rash that covered me from the tips of my toes to the top of my scalp. The intensity of the rash and itchiness was so great that even a shower wouldn't ease the pain. I couldn't believe the reaction as I have never experienced anything even a quarter of this intensity before.

I was alone in the house with two children under the age of 4 and as I collapsed on the bed dizzy and short of breath, I blacked out. I remember waking perhaps twice and gasping for breath but I was so weak that I couldn't orientate myself to get to a phone to call an ambulance. I blacked out again and when I woke up several hours later the itching was still there but my breathing was a little better. I managed to drag myself to the shower and stayed in there for about an hour and a half. The hot water ran out and I just stayed in the shower with the cold water running because to get out would mean I would start itching again. The rash took about 4 days to go away.

I have since tested this food on two separate occasions with a single calamari ring and had a similar reaction but with a milder effect probably due to the lesser amount eaten. I now avoid this food altogether although I really love it. It angers me to think that there could be additives in our food that cause such life threatening reactions and not only endangered my life but the life of my two very young children who would have been left in the house alone if I hadn't been able to wake up. It is just disgraceful!


- by email [What's in prepackaged, frozen calamari rings? This sounds like another reaction to flavour enhancer 635.]


[242] Just your average kiddies with no diagnosed problems (February 2003)


Thank you for your insightful and inspiring books! We have 3 children (2, 4, 6 yrs) and I have always been interested in their nutrition, and this is what made me pick up your book in the bookshop. Boy, I was blown away! I had no idea that additives could have the effects you described (I had always known about the obvious ones, like red or green cordials...) and I was very inspired to see what affect the elimination diet would have on our kids.

Well, the effect was instant! We haven't had any problems with ADHD or anything like that, but still, our kids just calmed right down! A few days after being on the diet, I had to take them all to the doctor (you know what that's like, waiting for an hour, three kids...) and they all just sat on the seats - didn't move! So I thought that was a fluke. The next day we all went food shopping ... they all just walked along nicely, the 2 yr old sitting quite patiently in the trolley. No bribes required, no food and drinks and toys (or lollipops) etc needed. Wonderful! Everything seems to be like that now - we recently had a 14hr plane flight where I looked after the kids alone, and they literally just sat on the seats or slept! They were amazing and I was so proud of them.

This whole diet has brought out the wonderful child in our first born (who I've been aiming this at..), all her sibling rivalry and anger has literally disappeared! She comes home from school happy to see me (not the enemy) and talks eagerly about her day and spontaneously hugs and kisses etc (had been quite reserved and standoffish).

Your book has changed our whole family dynamics, and I can honestly say that I really love and enjoy our children so much now, when you take away the constant battles, discipline dramas, rivalry, moodiness, and tiptoeing around the eldest to try and keep the peace.

We have been on this diet for over 3 months and have started the challenges, and gee, when the anger and moodiness comes back, it changes everything to where we used to be! It's just not worth it!!! A peaceful and happy home, with happy children (and parents) is wonderful.

I just wanted to pass this on, that the diet makes a huge difference on just your average kiddies, with no diagnosed problems. Thank you! - by email



[241] 8 year old suspended twice in two weeks (February 2003)


At the beginning of last year I was really desperate as my 8 year old was suspended twice in two weeks. I have to admit the school had good reasons for it. After a desperate search on the internet I found your site and that was the start of a whole new beginning. I just want to quote his teacher's comments in his school report that he received last term:

' What a different boy! ... He is now a happy and most cooperative class member who is beginning to make friends with others in the class. It has been a wonderful experience for me to see such an improvement'

There is nothing left to say than one more THANK YOU!!!! - by email



[240] Handwriting was a huge problem (February 2003)


I have 2 sons one of whom, was diagnosed with borderline ADD in December 2002. After reading your book "Fed Up" we changed a whole lot of things in terms of eating and as a result this family has had a real turnaround. My son is getting into his school work with pleasure and already had a few astonishing results in terms of concentration, memory and especially handwriting which was a huge problem- by email



[239] Failsafe not so unfamiliar (February 2003)


My failsafe daughter has just been to stay for a week. When she said she would bring her own food and do the shopping and cooking, my husband said 'so what on earth will we be eating?' Well, by the end of the week he had not eaten anything unfamiliar. And in fact enjoyed more sweet things than I ever allow in the house. I'm off to buy your cookbook today. - by email



[238] Argues at the drop of a hat about trivial matters (February 2003)


I saw you on Today Tonight and realised that my daughter's mood swings could be triggered by bread preservative. As soon as she was off it, her moods stabilised. Ordinarily she is a very good student. Others have described her as an angel. It is when she eats considerable amounts of white bread she becomes snappy, and argues at the drop of a hat about some very trivial matters. - reader, Qld



[237] " better than on full medication with NO side effects" (February 2003)


I'd like to tell you what your diet has done for my son. He used to be on Ritalin. I talked with our doctor about you and how I was going to do the diet (our whole family is doing it). We felt the claims may have been a bit exaggerated but have some benefit possibly. So I thought 'I have tried everything else with Sam, I may as well give this a go. I have nothing to lose'.

WELL, within 2 days !!!!!!! my feral son DID in fact become an angel!!! just like - no, better - than on full medication with NO side effects and it has lasted. It has been two weeks now. I don't know yet what he is intolerant to until we start the challenges.

It's not as though we had an unhealthy diet. We used to check the labels for artificial food colours, preservatives and other additives because we already found out that made him ten times worse.

I'm excited about it. I never dreamed it would work SO well! We did put him on the medication for Sunday morning at church but that was the only bad time on the diet. He cried the whole morning till it wore off, so we won't be giving it to him anymore. He is so much better. I can't wait till his next appointment with our doctor - he wants to know the results. I will sing your praises. I have stuck to the diet like the Bible. None of us have compromised in anything, although I desperately crave pizza, Diet Coke and tomatoes and hope I'll get over that soon.

I have attached a photo of Sam before. The picture says it all. Thanks so much.- Lisa Falkstrom.

Footnote: So far, Sam has reacted to both salicylate and amine challenges.


[236] Bubble bath tantrums (February 2003)


We have been following your Failsafe diet for 8 days now mainly for the benefit of son aged 7. He has difficulty managing his behaviour (and so, therefore, do we!). He has temper tantrums and can be extremely defiant. He is a lovely boy while things are going his way but if not, he turns into a monster. The Christmas holidays had been steadily getting worse and his poor behaviour reached a peak about 12 days ago. We spotted an article about preservative 282 in Wellbeing magazine and then went on to look at your website. We bought Fed-up and read it from front to back. We decided to begin the elimination diet and have had enormous success. His initial score on the test in the fed up book was 91 and a week later it was down to 26! We couldn't believe how polite and calm he was and he has been able to control himself really well. His teacher noticed a huge difference. However, last night we had one of the old tantrums return (the 'This place is horrible, I want to live somewhere else' sort of tantrum) and he again became very unreasonable and irrational and wouldn't listen to anything we had to say. This has happened again twice today. He really was 'freaking' out.

Could it be bubble bath? About an hour before the old behaviour returned, he had a bubble bath, ingredients : Water, Sodium Lauryl Ether Sulphate, cocamide DEA, Coco Dimethyl Amine Oxide, Sodium Chloride, Propylene Glycol, Citric Acid, Fragrance, Preservative, colours Red 22, Blue 1. Could this possibly affect him this way?

We have had such success and for one week we felt as though we were in family heaven and now it's gone straight back to how it was. We are truly terrified that we won't get this wonderful behaviour back again. He is so difficult to cope with and of course we always think 'Where did we go wrong?' This diet has worked miracles and I would be relieved to hear that the bubble bath is the likely culprit. - reader, Qld [Your son's reaction was most likely to the artificial colours in the bubble bath - Blue 1 is brilliant blue 133 S.]


[235] Another bubble bath (February 2003)


We have just had a month long 'hiccup' following a very fruity, fragrant bubblebath, given to our daughter for Christmas. - reader, WA



[234] 2 yo sleeping better (February 2003)


Having read your book and spent several months working through the challenges, we find our 2 year old (Zoe) is sleeping better and as an unexpected bonus is concentrating and managing her emotions better. - Bruce and Trina, WA



[233] He was a very angry child (February 2003)


I discovered your book at the end of November 2002 and when I read the first page about Rebecca as a baby I thought 'OMG, change the name to Rhys and this is MY son'.

I read the book from front to back in 2 days and then we started the elimination diet with our 9 year old son.

He was a very angry child and was getting into trouble at school due to his behaviour and I was at my wit's end.

School has been back for 5 days now and Rhys's teacher from last year said to me yesterday 'Rhys is a different child, the change in him is absolutely amazing and I am seriously thinking about doing this elimination diet myself.'

I was on top of the world!!! I was happy for the rest of the day. When I picked Rhys up from school yesterday afternoon, the assistant principal said to Rhys 'I have been hearing very good reports about your wonderful behaviour, young man. I am very proud of you and very pleased with what I have been hearing.'

Rhys was stoked and so was I. We had seen the improvements at home but it meant so much to me and made me feel so good to know that the teachers at school see it too.

One teacher commented this morning 'If only we could get all parents to TRY this elimination diet then I think we would have a lot less troublesome kids'

THANK YOU SO VERY MUCH SUE. I will forever be grateful to you and your books. And if you feel your ears burning occasionally it is probably because I am singing your praises to people. You really have helped us through a very difficult time when I didn't think I would cope. - reader, NSW



[232] Fully failsafe and doesn't need extra supplements (February 2003)


My son aged 4 has been fully failsafe, dairy free and gluten free for six months. Last week we had a nutrition check with our dietitian. She entered all the foods he eats into a nutrition analyser on her computer. I was very pleased to find out that he is getting all the nutrition he needs from his food, and has no need to take extra vitamin/mineral supplements. - reader, WA



[231] Homeschooling and chemicals (February 2003)


My 8 yr old has been failsafe for two years but still had learning problems at school because of chemicals - paint fumes, carpets, cleaners etc. We started homeschooling in 3rd term last year but it took us a while to get used to it. I'm feeling much better about it this year. I have read enough now not to feel so stressed about my ability and to have faith that the children will learn given the right opportunities.

I have noticed a big improvement in my son in the last 6 months. His confidence and self esteem are much better and he is a much more relaxed person than when attending school. He has also made some developmental leaps so reading is starting to emerge and I'm hoping this year he will realise he is quite good at Maths.

I realise now that I spent a lot of time trying to teach him things he was not ready to learn. He seems ready this year to tackle the things that were being taught at school. We are now using unit studies which are a big hit and keep us busy doing lots of hands on learning. The only text book we use is for Maths.


- reader NT [See also new factsheet - Fumes & Perfumes on the website]



[230] I felt I had a potential psychopath on my hands (February 2003)


I am 42 and live in Sydney with my husband and 2 children. My story centres around my son, Alex who is now 6 years old. Alex is a little toughy, one of those kids who is highspeed, enthusiastic, in your face, adventuresome etc (and that's with a positive spin on his life).

He was born 2 weeks early, but a big boofy boy at 4kg. For the first 6 months he was a wonderfully placid calm child. Feed well, slept well, grew well, didn't seem to cry - dream baby. (Apart from having chicken pox, bronchiolitis and 2 fits in this period he was healthy and strong - though perhaps these illness should have given me a clue).

At six months he suddenly became incredibly restless - people would comment on him being active and a real 'tiger' - Looking back 3 things changed at this time - he started solids, started formula and he started daycare. I also remember noticing his face change. He had had a beautiful round baby face with bright blue eyes, and when he started on solids he got dark circles and creases under the eyes, and his eyes turned green - I remember crying at the loss of my beautiful baby boy.

His first year in day care was diabolical. In a class of 15 babies, with 4 carers they could not cope with Alex. He walked at 9 months and spent his time running around the other babies (that were still immobile) snatching toys, jumping on the babies, shrieking, and escaping - he seemed incredibly bright and had the mobility of a child at least 6 months older. Every evening I was met with the litany of what he had done that day to terrorise the class. The carers always looked frazzled and worn out. Their only solution was to give continuous time out as a punishment - he spent hours every day in a cot that he eventually broke - at the time I lived through it thinking it must get better - in hindsight I see their approach as completely inappropriate - he was too young to be punished - it didn't help to modify his behavior, rather it set it in stone. (see the rest of this great story )

MORE READERS' STORIES on the website


Product updates


Sulphites in gluten free flours


*Tapioca and arrowroot flours may be preserved with sulphites, even if not listed on the label. You will have to phone the manufacturer to check. We have received numerous complaints from failsafers for whom the diet was not working properly. Sulphites are not only a problem for asthmatics. They can cause the full range of FI reactions, including headaches, irritable bowel symptoms, and behaviour problems.


* FG Roberts Gluten free flour contains tapioca flour preserved with sulphites and is no longer failsafe.


Sausage casings


* Sausage casings are permitted to contain sulphite preservatives at the same level as sausages. Since sausage casings are such a small component of a sausage, and being on the outside of the sausage are subjected to the highest heat which will drive off sulphites, it is likely that, these pose little risk to failsafers. However, some of the most sensitive failsafers may react to them.


* Sanitarium So Good soymilk (fresh) is NOT failsafe because it contains linseed. Note that the UHT product is now failsafe as in last newsletter.




Sadly, Soul Pattinson's have discontinued their Plain unflavoured toothpaste. There is now no failsafe toothpaste. Alternatives include cleaning your teeth with:

* a wet toothbrush

* a wet toothbrush dipped in salt, soda bicarb or calcium carbonate powder

* Colgate's white regular toothpaste - use as little as possible (electric toothbrushes are good for reducing the amount); rinse well with water after cleaning teeth; and keep out of the reach of young children when not in use. This is not failsafe and not recommended for the first three weeks of the elimination diet

Dentists recommend eating sugar less frequently, for example, one sugary dessert followed by a glass of water is better than frequent sweet snacks and drinks throughout the day.

Many failsafers report that their children's teeth unexpectedly improve on the diet. Although failsafe appears to be high in sugar, it is probably much lower than average because of the hidden sugars in processed foods - such as 10 tsp sugar in a can of soft drink. Failsafe kids drink water instead of fruit juice which can be just as bad for teeth as sugary drinks.

Finally, if you can tolerate dairy products, Lactobacillus GG in Vaalia yoghurt has been shown to prevent tooth decay. You might like to finish your meal or snack with yoghurt, or try this refreshing drink: stir 1 tsp of natural Vaalia into a glass of water.


Your questions:


Q. The front page of your website lists frequent nose bleeds as an FI symptom. Under what conditions do these nose bleeds occur and what foods seem to be implicated? My wife gets unexplained nosebleeds fairly often. Her doctor can find nothing as a cause.

A. In my experience, dairy foods are a big contributor, but everyone is different so you would have to consider the usual suspects (additives, salicylates etc).

Q. How can I eat well and stay sane at the same time? I would like to lose a bit of the weight that I have put on in the last 12 months and altogether I need to lose about 8 kgs.


A. See the new factsheet on the website, Failsafe Weight Loss, I've tried it and it works.


Q. Our pediatrician recommended Fergon elixir iron supplement. I was wondering if my daughter can take this while on the elimination diet? This supplement contains Glucose liquid, Ethanol and Saccharin Sodium.

A. You can't trust labels on pharmaceutical products, because they don't have to declare all additives. Here are the actual contents of Fergon, as listed on the CMI (Consumer Medication Information sheet), available in the packet or at www.myDr.com.au :

Active Ingredient: Ferrous Gluconate 300mg in 5mL

Other Ingredients: Glucose Liquid, Glycerol, Ethanol (alcohol), Saccharin Sodium, Gluconolactone, Apricot Superarome, Water - Purified

The strong apricot flavour ('super-aroma') is not failsafe. All strong fruit flavours are very high in salicylates.

For more details, see the new Supplements factsheet on the website.


Q. In the last 2 or 3 months, my stomach has been almost continuously bloated. On occasions the amount of gas in my stomach is so extreme that I have to force myself to burp to relieve the pressure in my stomach. I doubt that my diet is a problem as my wife and I eat low fat and very healthy. I am an otherwise healthy 31 year old non smoker and very mild drinker. However, I have recently begun chewing 'x.cite' chewing gum several times a day, ingredients: maltitol, gum base, flavour, thickener 414, emulsifier (322, from soy), colour 171, sweeteners (951, 950), glazing agent 903, antioxidant 320. Do you think that the gum may be the reason for my problem?

A. Maltitol can cause the problems you mention. Sugar alcohols including maltitol, sorbitol (420), mannitol (421), xylitol (967), glycerin (422) and hydrogenated glucose syrup (965) are used in 'sugar-free' chewing gum and candies and in low joule or carbohydrate modified food including icecreams and jams. Although sugar alcohols are chemically related to sugars, they are not as sweet, don't cause tooth decay and are poorly absorbed into the blood stream. This poor absorption means they can work their way through the digestive tract, causing bloating, abdominal pain and severe diarrhoea. The FDA requires a warning about 'laxative effects' on foods containing more than 50 grams. The trouble is, consumers are affected by a lot less than that. In 1999, the Centre for Science in the Public Interest (www.cspinet.org) petitioned the FDA to require foods containing more than one gram or more to bear a label stating: 'This product contains sorbitol (or whatever) which may cause diarrhoea, bloating and abdominal pain…'. No response from the FDA so far.


Q. Thanks for your website. I was excited to see your section on "Additives around the world" listed but sorry not to see a section about France.

A. I didn't write much about France because the food is so good there! French people seem very aware that fresh food is best, most seem to be against American-style food, and very few additives are used as far as I could see. French bread is excellent. Of course, if you buy American-style foods then you will have problems with the same additives as everyone else. You do need to be aware of additives in medication. There are many articles in French medical journals about this - and again, French doctors seem to be more aware of the problems than most - see article about asthma and benzoates in Failsafe #34.


Q. I notice that you don't include Helga's in your list of preservative free breads, however according to the label it contains only emulsifiers - is there something else in there?

A. Helga's bread usually contains either vinegar (which is not failsafe) or extras such as linseed and corn which are not failsafe. If you only have to avoid propionates it is OK.


Q. My 5 yr old son has Williams Syndrome. What I have read on your web page sounds like my son since birth. He has a learning disability but we have also experienced behavioral, sleeping and feeding problems and he never relaxes even while watching TV. Does the diet work for this syndrome?

A. It is possible to have food intolerance by itself or in association with a number of conditions. If your child's behaviour is related to food intolerance, then the failsafe diet will help. There are failsafe families using the diet successfully for children with Fragile X Syndrome, Prader-Willi syndrome, Porphyria and Down Syndrome as well as ADHD, PDD (pervasive developmental disorder), learning disabilities, autism, ODD (oppositional defiant disorder) and CD (both conduct disorder and coeliac disease). The diet will take care of the food-related symptoms but you may need other inventions such as behaviour management, special education, speech or motor-sensory programs. Parents usually find that other interventions are much more effective once the diet has kicked in.

Check out the Questions and Answers section in the website for many more details.

Around the groups: getting in touch


Thank you to everyone who has emailed me. Some of my replies get bounced - especially bigpond addresses. So if you haven't received an answer, please write again - and give me an alternative email address or phone number, just in case.


Support contacts


There are now over 40 support contacts in Australia, New Zealand and overseas - see website.

Are there any failsafers in Canada who would like to help a new failsafer? Contact me at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.




Sue Dengate will be giving talks as follows:

Wednesday 12th March, 7.30 pm Darwin, Casuarina Public Library (main area, not function room), phone 8927 5040

Monday 17th March, 7.30 pm, Sydney: Hurstville, phone Karyn, 02 9546 8257

Tuesday 18th March, 7.30 pm, Melbourne: Melton, phone Janice, 03 5367 2608

Wednesday 19th March, 7.30 pm, Melbourne: Warragul: phone Jenny 03 5627 8696

Thursday 20th March, 7.30 pm, Brisbane, phone Jan 07 3264 4265 or Carmel 07 3298 5873 email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..


Last week in March, Alice Springs - phone Andra 8952 8057 if you are interested in either a meeting of the food intolerance network, or attending a talk.


Tuesday 29th July 2003 - Bordertown, SA - conference, details TBA


Sun-Tues 28-30 September, 2003 - Darwin, Australian Association of Special Education national conference, details TBA




Printable trifold brochures on food intolerance and oppositional defiance are now available.

Collect from the Yahoo website if you are a member (which is free). Access http://groups.yahoo.com/group/failsafe_newsletter then click on "File" on the left. Select blueleafletfinal.pdf or oddleaflet.pdf and doubleclick. Your Acrobat Reader should open it in a form you can save and/or print.

Or, you can email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. requesting the brochure and we'll email you a pdf file that you can print in colour or black and white and which you are free to copy.

Or, you can email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. for mailed copies of our new glossy paper, two colour versions. We'll send you one of each for free (and you are welcome to photocopy them), or $5.00 for 20 or $10 for 45 including postage. This is only to cover costs. Cheques payable to Darwin ADD Support Group.

We loved this comment from one satisfied failsafer:

"Ah, the answer to my prayers. I had no idea the brochure even existed, but thanks so much for directing me to it. I am not very Internet savvy, however I found it easy enough. Regarding possible opposition to failsafing within the child care setting ... now all I have to do is hand over a copy of this and let them ask questions! Thanks again. I highly recommend everyone print this out if you don't already have a copy, it sure cuts out the "but WHY can't your kid have (insert food here)?" questions. Great for grandparents too."

Cooks' corner


Chicken and leek frittata


3 leeks, cleaned and chopped

2 cups diced, cooked cold potatoes

2 cups other diced, failsafe cooked vegetables

3 tbs failsafe oil

4 eggs

[optional: 1/2 cup grated mild or mozzarella cheese if you can manage dairy and amines]

2-3 tbs fresh cream, milk or soymilk

2-3 cups chopped leftover cooked chicken

Use a large ovenproof nonstick pan or a frypan with a high domed lid. Cook leeks in oil over medium heat until transparent. Add potatoes, vegetables and chicken. Beat eggs in a bowl, add cream and cheese. Pour over potato and vegetable mixture. Allow to cook over a gentle heat until the sides and the bottom set then bake in a preheated moderate oven ( or cover with lid and continue cooking) for 12-15 minutes. Leave the frittata to set in the pan for 5-10 minutes after cooking.


Potato crackers


Use left-over mashed potato in these quick and delicious crackers.

1/2 cup mashed potato

1 egg yolk

2 tbsp chopped chives or shallots

sea salt to taste

Preheat oven to 180°C (moderate). Combine potato with other ingredients and mix well. Spread as thinly as possible into square shapes on a greased baking tray and bake until golden brown, about 15-20 minutes, depending on desired crispness.


Pear Clafoutis


Pears are covered with a light, not-quite-cake topping in this remarkable dessert which is easy to make and looks stunning.

1 large can (800 gm) pears in syrup

1 cup self raising flour

3 eggs

½ cup caster sugar

½ cup milk, soymilk, or ricemilk

1 tbsp sifted icing sugar

Preheat oven to 180°C. Drain pears and reserve syrup. Arrange pears, cut side down, in a lightly greased 25cm flan dish. Sift flour into a bowl and make a well in the centre. Break eggs into the well, add sugar and milk and mix to form a smooth batter. Pour batter over pears. Bake for 45 minutes or until firm and golden. Serve hot or cold with pear syrup and yoghurt or icecream. - Emma Pilcher from Floradiction



The FAILSAFE Discussion Groups : On-going support is the key to success with FAILSAFE eating. Access the wealth of experience and information in this free email group and share recipes and stories with people from around the world, particularly from Australia, New Zealand, South-East Asia and USA. You will receive a daily digest of all emails, or choose individual emails if you want, and can respond to individuals or the group by email or over the web. There is also an on-line chat facility.

We recommend that you have the diet booklets from the hospital or have read one of the following books: Fed Up, the Failsafe Cookbook, or Friendly Food before joining the group.

Groups are closed when they have 100 members to maintain a community of support. There are now several groups:

If you are just starting out, we suggest that you join the FAILSAFE2 Discussion Group by sending an email with subscribe in the subject line to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. (Frontpage: http://groups.yahoo.com/group/failsafe2). Some experienced failsafers are there to help.

The FAILSAFE USA Discussion Group has just started for USA members. This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. (Frontpage: http://groups.yahoo.com/group/failsafeUSA)

The FAILSAFE Adult Discussion Group has just started for adults seeking support. This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. (Frontpage: http://health.groups.yahoo.com/group/failsafe )

The FAILSAFE BASIC Discussion Group is currently closed. Frontpage: http://health.groups.yahoo.com/group/failsafebasic

The original FAILSAFE Discussion Group is now limited to existing members or those with extra needs such as severe food intolerance or gluten intolerance This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. (Frontpage: http://groups.yahoo.com/group/failsafe).


The FAILSAFE Newsletter: You can have this Newsletter emailed to you for free about every two months. Subscribe: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. Frontpage: http://health.groups.yahoo.com/group/failsafe_newsletter


© Sue Dengate (text) PO Box 85 Parap NT 0804, Australia. This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. Thanks to Robin Fisher, Sheryl Sibley, Deb Marinello, Ingrid Boyle and members of the failsafe discussion groups. Further reading: The Simplified Elimination Diet from dietitians, Fed Up, the Failsafe Cookbook and Different Kids by Sue Dengate Random House, and Friendly Food, by Swain and others, Murdoch Books.