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RPAH Elimination Diet / FAILSAFE Diet

Around the time Dr. Benjamin Feingold was developing the Feingold Diet, doctors at Sydney's Royal Prince Alfred Hospital (RPAH) were working on the FAILSAFE Diet in response to food allergies and intolerances to artificial compounds, amines, and salicylates. FAILSAFE is an acronym for "Free of Additives, Low in Salicylates, Amines, and Flavor Enhancers," and the diet focuses on reducing or eliminating the consumption of these compounds.  Like the Feingold Diet, the FAILSAFE Diet has been shown to improve the behavior of children suffering from attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. However, researchers recommend that the diet be followed along with other natural treatments in order to eliminate most ADHD symptoms.

The FAILSAFE Diet is very similar to the Feingold Diet in that all foods containing artificial additives are eliminated.  Compared to the Feingold Diet, however, the FAILSAFE Diet is more restrictive and reflects a more extensive knowledge of food salicylate content.  It is also approached more like a scientific experiment than a diet, so all the variables are controlled by removing every single possible reactive food chemical at one time.  It should be strictly followed, as any deviations from the diet can cause relapses in symptoms.

A child undergoing the FAILSAFE Diet must avoid the following food additives:


All artificial food dyes
Natural color 160b


Nitrates and nitrites

Synthetic antioxidants

TBHQ (tertiary butylhydroquinone)
BHA (butylated hydroxyanisole)
BHT (butylated hydroxytoluene)

Artificial Flavorings

Hydrolyzed vegetable protein
Glutamates and MSG

Besides foods containing the above additives, the FAILSAFE Diet also eliminates the following:

Foods from fast food chains, pizza, fish and chips shops, hot dogs, and Chinese food
Frozen foods and ice cream
Processed cheese and meat
Bakery products

Most fruits and vegetables are eliminated from the FAILSAFE Diet, because they contain salicylates, a group of chemicals that act as natural pesticides.  Although salicylates are highest in unripe fruit and gradually decrease as the fruit ripens, all fruits except peeled pears contain moderate to high amounts of salicylates and are normally not allowed.   If fruits must be eaten, they should be ripe and peeled, because salicylates are concentrated underneath the skin of fruits.  The outer leaves of vegetables must also be removed, as these contain the highest levels of salicylate content.

So what foods can your child eat under the FAILSAFE Diet?

All fresh, unprocessed foods are unrestricted [do you mean restricted?] by the diet.  It takes about two weeks for the symptoms of food allergies and intolerances to decrease; once this happens, foods may be slowly reintroduced to see if they cause the symptoms.  Until then, this is the basic diet that should be followed for the first two weeks or until symptoms diminish:

Staple foods: Rice, rice noodles, semolina, white flour, and whole meal
Meat: Chicken, beef, and lamb
Fruits: Peeled pears
Vegetables: Lettuce, parsley, and carrots
Fats: Olive oil and sunflower oil
Flavor enhancers: Salt and pepper

Before putting your child on the FAILSAFE Diet, consult a nutritionist or your health care professional and ask if this diet is the right treatment strategy for your child.  Some of the factors that need to be considered are the child's symptoms, the child's capacity to adhere to the strict nutritional requirements of the diet, the parents' ability to support the diet, and food supplements that will replenish any nutrients that may be lost from avoiding most fruits and vegetables.