Permitted ingredients on a cinnamon and benzoate-free diet for OFG sufferers

This list is based both on the October 2012 sheet from Guy’s Hospital, from my own personal experience, and from the experience of friends on a facebook support group.

One of the major drawbacks of OFG is that some foods are safe for one person but make others react badly.  I have highlighted as many of these as I’m aware of in bold italics.  The foods that need to be avoided completely are given in CAPITAL LETTERS.

This list does NOT include any ready-made products, ready meals, sauces or foodstuffs that have more than one or two ingredients on the label – it’s a list of the ingredients that are generally considered safe, and nothing more.

Unless otherwise stated, each food item is plain, pure, unadulterated, without any additives, preservatives, flavourings, other ingredients and free from cross-contamination.

I have specifically avoided including additives & E-numbers in this list.  A full compendium of food additives and their E-numbers is available at: . This website should be consulted to determine your ‘safe’ E-numbers and additives, especially if you struggle with additives in addition to benzoates.

This list should be used in conjunction with a comprehensive avoid-list so as to remove confusion.

Please note if you are, or suspect you are, intolerant of other chemicals, for example citric acid, histamine, or gluten, then this list will not be completely accurate and will need to be used with caution.


  • Any


  • Any EXCEPT COD (some people find very fresh or frozen fish safer than refrigerated stuff)
  • Any seafood EXCEPT PRAWNS


  • Cow’s Milk – some people find goats milk easier
  • Cream & sour cream
  • Yoghurt – some people cannot tolerate live  yoghurt
  • Butter
  • Plain Hard Cheeses. AVOID BLUE CHEESE & GORGONZOLA. Some people react to mature cheeses
  • Cream cheeses
  • Fromage frais, quark & similar
  • Hen’s Eggs – some people find goose or duck eggs easier to tolerate 


  • Apples
  • Pears
  • Bananas
  • Pineapple
  • Oranges (some people react to  navel oranges)
  • Satsumas/tangerines/clementines
  • Lemons
  • Limes
  • Grapefruit
  • Melon
  • Mango
  • Rhubarb
  • Pomegranate
  • Grapes 
  • Kiwi
  • Coconut
  • fresh blackcurrants (a lot of people react to these, but not everyone)

Please check out my post, for specific advice about fruit


  • Potatoes
  • Sweet potatoes
  • Broccoli
  • Cauliflower
  • All types of cabbage
  • Carrots
  • Parsnips
  • beetroot
  • Most types of beans (AVOID SOYA & KIDNEY.  Some people react to aduki beans)
  • Olives
  • Lettuces and salads – pale green hearted lettuces and red varieties are normally safe for everyone, as are beetroot leaves.  AVOID SPINACH, ROCKET AND SIMILAR DARK GREEN LOOSE-LEAF SALADS AND SALAD HERBS
  • Cucumber
  • All types of onion
  • Garlic
  • Beansprouts
  • All types of peas
  • All types of lentils
  • Sweet peppers
  • chilli peppers
  • Okra
  • Courgette AKA zucchini
  • Aubergine AKA eggplant
  • Marrow
  • Butternut squash & other squashes AVOID PUMPKIN
  • Tomato (Be very careful with tomato products added to processed foods – even if you believe that you will be safe with fresh tomato you may find you have to AVOID TOMATO PUREE, TOMATO POWDER, SUNDRIED TOMATO etc.
  • White or button mushrooms (AVOID WILD/SPECIALITY MUSHROOMS) 
  • Oca & Jerusalem Artichoke (see for more information)

Grains, nuts & seeds

  • Gluten-free grains e.g. rice, maize/corn, quinoa
  • Gluten-containing grains (wheat, oats, barley, rye) – a few people DO react to these, especially in larger quantities
  • Any nuts
  • Sunflower seeds
  • Poppy seeds
  • Linseeds AKA flax seeds
  • Sesame seeds
  • Pumpkin seeds 

Herbs & Spices

  • Salt
  • black & white pepper
  • Oregano
  • Marjoram
  • Thyme
  • Basil
  • Rosemary
  • Parsley
  • Chives
  • Mint
  • Fennel
  • Coriander
  • Tumeric
  • Cumin
  • Ginger
  • Chilli
  • Cayenne
  • Cardamon
  • Star Anise
  • Paprika
  • Bay Leaves
  • Mace

Cooking & Baking

  • Any plain fats and oils
  • Flours made with safe grains
  • Any sugar or sugar syrups (including glucose, sucrose & fructose. Some people react to lactose)
  • Black Treacle
  • Sodium bicarbonate & arrowroot-based raising agents
  • Carob
  • Crystallised ginger
  • Vanilla extract
  • Gravy browning/caramel colouring
  • Yeast Extract
  • Malt Extract
  • most vinegars
  • honey


  • Still and carbonated mineral water
  • Fruit juices made with permitted fruits
  • Coffee
  • Fruit or herbal infusions with permitted ingredients (e.g. mint, fennel, chamomile.  Some people react to rosehip)
  • Lager
  • Beer
  • Wine
  • Cider
  • Whisky

42 Responses to Permitted ingredients on a cinnamon and benzoate-free diet for OFG sufferers

  1. Tiger says:

    The leafy greens comment above is because most people react to spinach, rocket, mustard and/or other similar dark green salads and salad-herbs. So, if your green leaves come from what you would class as a ‘proper’ lettuce, then they should be safe – this includes romaine, cos, little gem, iceberg, and similar. But if it’s a loose leaf, mixed green salad there is likely to be at least one of the darker green leaves in it that’s a reactant, at least for the majority of people.

    I wrote the description on the list above in such a way that it couldn’t be wrongly interpreted as me saying that any salad leaves are okay, because they aren’t. I hope this clarifies what I intended the list entry and my description of ‘pale green’ to mean.

    I have updated the list to try and explain this more clearly. Thank you for bringing it up

  2. Tiger says:

    to be honest I do not know! I can eat all green veg except spinach and rocket. Other people struggle with a much wider range though

  3. Tiger says:

    Some people react to the histamine levels in certain foods and fish is a known culprit if you are one of these. The ice fish is packed in on fishing vessels can also have preservatives in. I tend to stick to freshly frozen fish as its safest for me.

  4. Tiger says:

    fish frozen when caught and purchased ready-frozen, as opposed to fish from the fishmonger sold unfrozen that you freeze yourself

  5. Chris says:

    Funny you mention this brand of sardines. I’ve been wide awake after I ate the exact ones 6 hrs ago. So much for sleep tonight… although I thought it might be that sardines have super high benzos but all I can find is the high amines unless they are treated somewhere along the way with benzos. Amines and benzos are my two biggest culprits of insomnia and general ADD symptoms. It’s amazing how normal life gets when they are removed from my diet.

    • Tiger says:

      often fish caught for canning/selling fresh is packed in ice which is treated with benzoates. But because the preservatives are not added to the fish itself it generally doesn’t get declared. I was badly caught out with fresh salmon once for this exact reason.

    • Rose says:

      I bought the wild caught Kirkland brand Sockeye frozen salmon and talapia from Costco in the US this weekend. I will give that a try.

  6. Harry Sturt says:

    I saw on a couple different lists that beer isn’t allowed but it is on your list as safe?

    • Tiger says:

      Thank you for bringing this to my attention. I have always understood that beer was safe, but I will look into this further and if need be will edit my list to reflect what I find.

  7. Rose says:

    FYI, I was told my the dietition that olives are often preserved with benzoates, but they are listed as permitted here.

    • Tiger says:

      I have never found them preserved with benzoates. I get Tesco’s own brand olives in brine (either green or black, pitted, unstuffed), and they have always been safe. In the UK any level of preservative will be listed in the ingredients, and its the same for foods in any EU country. If you are not in Europe, all I can suggest is contacting manufacturers or local legislative bodies to make enquiries about labelling policy.

  8. Rose says:

    Yes, US is behind in the labeling legislation.

  9. Morag says:

    Thanks for the above info, as it looks like my son may have OFG, He is waiting for more tests and a formal diagnosis, but in the mean time I am cooking meals and buying foods for him that are Benzoate and cinnamon free as well as no preservatives and additives. Here in New Zealand, our foods are all very well labelled, with ALL ingredients very well listed on everything we buy in supermarkets etc.. look forward to reading the recipes and getting ideas for more variety in food he can have.

  10. Rose says:

    I understand that soy beans and kidney/red beans are off limits. What about black beans?

    • Tiger says:

      Of all the different beans available, the ones known without doubt to cause significant reactions are soya/soy, kidney, and sometimes aduki.
      As far as I have been able to tell, all the other varieties I have researched seem to be fine. But there are several varieties of bean sold as ‘black beans’ and I am sure I have not researched them all. as finding their Latin plant names is very hard in deed! However, I understand that the variety known as black turtle bean is safe for most people, if that helps.

  11. Rose says:

    1. Since red grapes can be a problem, does that transfer to red wine?
    2. How is persimmon?

  12. Tiger says:

    hi Rose, some people can tolerate wine, even if they cannot eat grapes. Weird, I know. I have no idea why this is! Others can’t tolerate either grapes or wine.
    I have no idea about persimmon. I will try and look it up and find out for you.

  13. Tiger says:

    Just looked up persimmon. As far as I can tell from the chemical analysis I have just found, it contains both hydroxybenzoic acid and hydroxycinnamic acid, and so would not be safe.

  14. Tiger says:

    I’m not sure how I learned it to be honest! It was a combination of speaking with lots of other sufferers and driving my dietitian nuts with emails. Plus using my college experience to search through scientific papers detailing chemical anslyses.

  15. Rose says:

    TY for looking up the analysis for persimmon. If you have time someday to post an explanation of how to analyze the chemistry of various food we all may be able to try it too.

    • Tiger says:

      its actually not that complicated but you need to have a bit of patience!
      1. use google to look up the Latin name of the plant in question
      2. type that Latin name into google followed by the words “chemical analysis”.
      3. Almost always you will be presented with at least half a dozen complex scientific papers. Open at least 3 different ones, one at a time, and use your computer’s search function to locate any instances of the prefix “benz” or “cinn”. You need to check different ones as not all chemical analyses search for the same things. You need to be sure the one you are searching is comprehensive and is not just focused, for example, on vitamin or mineral or fat or protein content. The document title sometimes helps here.
      4. If the “benz” prefix is seen, check the word that is found to confirm its a salt or derivitave of benzoic acid, i.e. the end of the chemical name is -ate, or -oic or acid.
      5. if the “cinn” prefix is seen, do a visual check that the word found appears to be a variation of the name “cinnamon”.
      I find my A-Level chemistry to be invaluable in understanding what I am reading, so I’m not sure exactly how helpful this process will be for folks with no chemistry or biology knowledge, but this is what I do.

  16. Rose says:

    OK. I am saving it as “Chemical Analysis of Various Foods” in my Drive. thana also for letting me know about grapes and wine. May I ask you how people fare with red grape juice?

  17. Tiger says:

    most people struggle with red grape juice

  18. Rose says:

    The difficult part of searching for chemical analysis is access to full articles. I could do it but it requires using my husband’s library account and password at the medical school.

  19. Daniel Longman says:

    What about sweet corn?

    • Tiger says:

      its usually okay. I have never heard of any reactions to corn or maize in any form.

      • Daniel Longman says:

        Ok thanks
        Can I ask what sort of reaction do you Have when you eat anything with benzonate In I’m getting ulcers all over my mouth and if I eat to much I get badly sick I only ask cuz the doctors think I have a intolerance.

  20. Tiger says:

    yes, mouth ulcers sound familiar! Ulcers, swollen lips, swollen tongue, bleeding gums, sore throat, inability to breathe through nose. Some people find their cheeks swell too, making their whole face puff up. And its incredibly painful, and takes weeks to fade.

  21. Daniel Longman says:

    Would blackpudding be ok to eat?
    I’m also struggling with anything with to much acids like orange juice and pure apple juice.

    • Tiger says:

      no, black pudding is spiced with nutmeg and is unsafe.

      Regarding juices, don’t forget that both apples and oranges can be reactants for some people. However, an additional citric acid intolerance, as well the usual suspect foods, is not unheard of.

  22. Nikki says:

    What kind of bread can you have, only homemade? Is flour ok to use?

    • Tiger says:

      Any bread, as long as:
      It does not contain soya flour or soya lecithins
      It is made either with EU-manufactured flour, or else flour labelled as ‘unbleached’.
      In the UK, Tesco sell a couple of safe loaves. In the US and other countries most sufferers make their own bread.

  23. Elaine Saye says:

    Thank you for all this information. I have become allergic to Benzoic acid and benzoates since I was prescribed eye drops after cataract surgery. My nose and sinuses are permanently inflamed and red raw. If I swallow anything containing benzoate eg. Benolyn cough medicine my throat closes up and I have big problems breathing. I am waiting to see a specialist who is at St. James’ Hospital Leeds. There is a minimum 9 week waiting list.

  24. James says:

    What is the issue with Soya. Is this strictly soya beans or is the an issue with any soy additives

    • Tiger says:

      Soya is, as far as I understand from advice from medical folks, a natural source of reactors i.e. cinnamon or benzoate chemicals. This means that, like many other natural sources, the chemicals in question grow within the plant. Therefore both the whole beans and any derivitives of soya/soy could potentially contain these reactors.

      Like any foodstuff on this diet, there is the potential for some people to react to it but others to be fine. I have never had an explanation as to why it works in this way. If someone eats soya and never has any oral swellings, ulcers or other oral crohns symptoms with it, then keep on eating it. But if you have an oral crohns flare up (or a flare up of any other condition helped by this diet) and cannot trace it to any other food, then soya should be eliminated, at least temporarily.

      Hope this helps.

  25. Rose says:

    Hi Tiger, I was thinking about trying a “prebiotic” supplement. The main ingredient in most is chicory root. I searched for a chemical analysis of chicory root and found that one of the compounds it contains is benzothiazoles. Is that one of the derivatives of benzoaic acid that we should avoid?

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