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  • Writer's picturefranceswalker@thefoodinto

6 easy peasy SWAPS for the FAILSAFE Elimination Diet

Updated: Apr 8

Swapping out high food chemical foods for low can help reduce the salicylates, amine, glutamate and food additive content of your diet without a lot of effort.

As a quick recap: the RPAH elimination diet eliminates salicylates, amines, glutamates and certain food additives from the diet, and challenges to identify if these are causing food symptoms. FAILSAFE is the strict level of the RPAH elimination diet.

JOIN THE COMMUNITY: BRAND NEW Dietitian led Facebook group: Amines, Salicylates and Glutamates: The Food Intolerance Dietitian for great information and community support.

Try these for size:


All onions are VERY HIGH in salicylates be they white, brown, or Spanish onions.

Luckily leeks are low in salicylates so swap onion out and leek in!

If you are sensitive to FODMAPs avoid the leek bulb as it has been shown to be high in oligosaccharides for 1 serve (1 leek), and moderate for 1/2 serve (1/2 leek) according to the Monash University low FODMAP app.

Leek leaves do contain more salicylates than the white bulb but are still considered low. The leaves have also been shown to be low in FODMAPs. Still avoid large servings (greater than 2/3 cup) as the amount of the FODMAP polyol (mannitol) will be high.

Spring onions are also a useful low salicylate alternative to onion, to make low in FODMAPs use green tips only. No limit here!


Olive oil is made from olives and olives are very high in salicylates and amines. So it follows that olive oil is not a good choice for the low chemical/failsafe elimination diet.

Other high salicylate and amine oils include coconut oil, peanut oil, and other nut oils such as almond and sesame oil.

Rice bran oil is low in food chemicals as well as canola, safflower and sunflower oils.

Soy oil is also low, but many prefer to avoid if also avoiding soy, although there is unlikely any soy protein in the soil oil as it is extracted as part of the purifying processes.

When buying oils as recommended for the low chemical diet, always check the ingredient list for any artificial antioxidants that may have been added to preserve the oil, especially 310, 311, 312, 319, 320, 321. Although supermarket oils tend not to have these antioxidants added (in Australia), commercial oils usually do.


Honey is super high in salicylates but is easily swapped for pure maple syrup. Make sure it is the pure maple syrup and not the flavoured maple syrup which is very high in salicylates and amines.

This is a handy swap if you are also FODMAP sensitive as honey is very high in excess fructose.

If you are looking for a more honey-like consistency then rice malt syrup is the go. It is a fantastic alternative to honey without the salicylates. Swap using a 1:1 ratio. Also low in FODMAPs.

Other low chemical sweeteners include sugar, whether it is white or brown, castor sugar or icing sugar.


Many fat spreads or regular margarines contain food additives such as the natural colour annatto which is also called 160(b).

Nuttelex original is a terrific choice because it is additive free as well as dairy and soy free. There are a few acceptable varieties of Nuttelex, just make sure not to buy the olive oil Nuttelex, the coconut oil Nuttelex or the buttery Nuttelex which contain salicylates. The light Nuttelex is low a good choice but does not perform well in baking.

Pure butter is acceptable as long as dairy is not also being eliminated. Check it is not a butter blend with added problem ingredients such as food additives.


Most fruits are high or super high in salicylates and maybe amines, and jams are no exception. Jams such as raspberry jam are best avoided when on the food chemical or failsafe elimination diet.

Pear is the only fruit low in salicylates so is a great choice to make jam. Commercial pear jams are limited but there is a great one made by The Gutsy Food Company and available online at AllergyTrain.

As pretty much all sauces are high in food chemicals and/or food additives, pears can be used not only for a jam but also to make chutney. Goes a long way to making foods tasty.

For the FODMAP sensitive people, pear jam may not be so well tolerated as pears are high in the FODMAPs sorbitol and excess fructose. Maybe just trial very small amounts and see how you go.


All nuts on the chemical elimination diet are excluded except for cashews.

Cashews are very low in salicylates as long as they are raw or lightly roasted.

There is a catch- try and limit to a handful a day around 10 cashews if following a strict or moderate approach.

If using cashew paste (pure cashew paste, watch out for additives), then limit to 2 teaspoons per day.

Halve this limit for children.

10 raw cashews are high in FODMAPs (oligosaccharides) but activated cashews are low in FODMAPs. Unfortunately activated cashews are high in amines so not very useful here! Although the FODMAP FRIENDLY app classifies 3-4 cashews as low in FODMAPs so small amounts could be tolerated.

EASY SWAPS- making the elimination diet easier!



1. Anne Swain, Valencia Soutter, Robert Loblay. RPAH elimination diet handbook: with food & shopping guide, 2011. Camperdown, N.S.W. : Allergy Unit, Royal Prince Alfred Hospital, 2011.

2. The Monash University Low FODMAP Diet App. 2017: Version 2.0.4(327). Date retrieved: 2018-20-03. Retrieved from:


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