Sunday, February 27, 2005

Pot Noodles may not be good for you shock

Today's Observer leads with this story:
Food giants told: clean up or face prosecution
Britain's food safety chief issued a stark warning last night to the country's multi-billion-pound food industry to put its house in order or face plunging public trust and prosecutions for failing to protect the nation's health.
Two things are worth saying here. The first is that the Sudan-I scare is being blown out of all proportion. The Spiked website's Don't Panic section makes two important points:
Sudan-I is not, as frequently stated, a 'known carcinogen' in humans. In large quantities, it does increase the frequency of liver tumours in rats, but not in mice. It is classified as a 'category 3' carcinogen - that is, something for which not enough information in relation to humans is available to make a firm judgement but which has carcinogenic potential.
The quantities contained in these ready meals must have been tiny. The chilli powder must only have contained a small fraction of Sudan-I. In turn this was added to the sauce, which therefore only contained a small fraction of the chilli powder. Finally, the finished products will have contained only a small fraction of worcester sauce. The quantities of Sudan-I in the end products must be measured in micrograms.
In other words, we are panicking about nothing.

The second thing worth saying is that most of the dishes which are believed to contain these microscopic traces of Sudan-I are, in the words of Liberal Dissenter, "overpriced muck".

Over in Shropshire, the Star reports that:

Telford business owners caught selling food contaminated with the cancer-linked Sudan 1 dye could face £20,000 fines or two years in prison ...

The warning comes after a Shropshire Star investigation revealed contaminated products, namely beef and tomato Pot Noodles with best before dates up to November 2005, were still on sale in stores in Dawley, Hadley and Trench.

I speak with all the authority of a former member of the Pot Noodle tasting panel (I worked for Golden Wonder when the company owned the brand) when I say this. If people are buying Pot Noodles because they think they are good for them, it will be a thoroughly good thing if the Sudan-I scare disabuses them of this ridiculous idea.

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