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

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

  1. Ruth Vish says:

    I am confused about leafy greens. Is Romaine lettuce pale enough?

    • 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. Ruth Vish says:

    Buyer beware! White flesh fish in the US is often preserved with benzoates added to the ice.

  3. Ruth Vish says:

    Is broccoli rabe more like broccoli or more like a dark leafy green in relation to benzoate content
    and reaction?

    • 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

      • Ruth says:

        I ate the broccoli rabe (from frozen) last night and noted reactions, so I guess it is not for me. But broccolini is more florets and less leaves so maybe that would be better.

  4. Ruth says:

    Have you found Sardines to be safe? I had King Oscar

    a few weeks ago without success, but the problem could have been from another source.

    • 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.

  5. 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.

  6. Tiger says:

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

  7. 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.

  8. 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.

  9. Rose says:

    Yes, US is behind in the labeling legislation.

  10. 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.

  11. 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.

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