Today we’re discussing a trial eating plan that was originally designed to treat children with ADHD, but over recent years it has proven useful for a wide range of conditions, such as eczema, asthma, allergy-type symptoms, and severe food allergies. FAILSAFE stands for Free of Additives, Low in Salicylates, Amines, and Flavor Enhancers (glutamates).


This elimination plan originated by immunologists at Sydney’s Royal Prince Alfred Hospital in the late 70’s after curiosity sparked with the contributing role of dietary substances in the cause or worsening of skin irritations and allergies. Clinical trials were done and improvements were seen in those patients with skin conditions after removing certain chemicals from their eating patterns. Further clinical observation made it evident that certain food additives and naturally occurring compounds could aggravate other symptoms besides skin issues such as migraine, irritable bowel and neuropsychiatric symptoms.

FAILSAFE is likely one the most restrictive eating plans known, so before getting rid of everything in your kitchen (literally!), it is important to keep a few things in mind. While eliminating anything processed with artificial colors, flavors, additives, and preservatives is ideal to promote optimal well-being, the other suggested exclusions are a little more challenging to live with, especially long term. Substances like salicylates, glutamates, and amines are natural components also found in wholesome foods like apples, broccoli, whole grains, and meats. A full list of foods that are included on a FAILSAFE plan can be found here.

The FAILSAFE plan suggests beginning with an elimination (that lasts from 4-12 weeks) and then adding foods back in gradually to “rechallenge” them. This is so individuals can determine which chemicals in particular may be causing symptoms and what quantity of chemicals can be managed without experiencing these symptoms.

The process of determining what makes one feel unwell is often a demanding and drawn out journey; and although eliminating certain foods from your eating pattern can definitely help, strict food elimination plans, like FAILSAFE, are only meant to be a short-term trial for diagnosing the issue.

If you feel you may benefit from the FAILSAFE plan it is always best to consult with a nutrition professional, like our experts at PreviMedica, to ensure nutrient intake is adequate. If you’d like to set up an appointment with one of our PreviMedica nutrition experts, contact us at or by calling 855-773-8463.

Basilia Theofilou is a contributor on our blog as well as one of the nutrition advisors here at PreviMedica. You can read more about her here.

Watkins, Tim. “History of our elimination diet – Allergy Unit – Royal Prince Alfred Hospital.” History of our elimination diet – Allergy Unit – Royal Prince Alfred Hospital. N.p., Web. 11 Apr. 2017.
Swain, Ann R. THE ROLE OF NATURAL SALICYLATES IN FOOD INTOLERANCE . Thesis. University of Sydney, 1988. N.p.: n.p., n.d. Print.
Clarke, Lesley, Jenny McQueen, Ann Samild, and Ann Swain. “The dietary management of food allergy and food intolerance in children and adults.” Australian Journal of Nutrition and Dietetics 53.3 (1996): 1-10. Web. 2 Mar. 2017.


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