sudan red leaves bad taste

Submitted by turbosprout on Mon, 2007-03-05 17:53

So the curry I made last night using "Robertson's Rajah Curry Powder (Medium)" wasn't one of the six chilli spices tested by the Sunday Times and found to be contaminated with Sudan IV, a potentially cancer causing industrial dye.

Will I sleep any better because of this? Probably not.

It just serves as a reminder at how unnatural our food supply has become in a couple of generations. Sure, adulteration of food has always taken place, but never on such a global scale with such far reaching consequences. Our health expended for making a quick buck.

Would it make any difference to have one more chemical added to an already vast cocktail of chemicals in our diet that we consume without our knowledge? To me it definitely does.

The Sunday Times broke the story yesterday, reporting that Pick ‘n Pay, Spar and Shoprite were withdrawing implicated products from their shelves as a precaution. Seems like just the other day when we last had this scare, back in March 2005.

So where are all the government, industry and consumer bodies that are there to protect us against this scourge from happening again and again?

Well, the government is not too worried, as Thami Mseleku, Director-General of Health, says, "The ultimate would be to have a food-safety agency, but it’s costly and because of other major health challenges, it’s not going to happen in the near future."

I wasn't aware that SA didn't have a government food safety association. It's a disgrace, it's an outrage actually.

So what about industry bodies? The Consumer Goods Council (a misnomer as it's funded by manufacturers and retailers, not consumers) has a conflict of interest in policing its own members. IOL reported back in Jan 2006 that the CGC had formed a Food Safety Initiative that would determine the "exact nature of possible and actual problems along the food supply chain". At best the CGC seems plain ineffectual, at worst it is a front for manufacturers to appear as though they're doing something about food safety when they aren't. Take a look at the CGC website - no Sudan Red news here! No news at all, it seems.

And if we can't trust the importers / suppliers / repackagers of spices to test their own products - this includes manufacturing giant Unilever (Robertson spices are also implicated) - who can we trust?

The retailers can only rely on manufacturers assertions. Brian Weyers of Shoprite Group, said: "This comes despite written confirmation from the food manufacturing industry that the country’s spice is free from the dye."

That leaves it up to you and I and bonafide consumer groups to lobby government and industry for better legislation and more effective enforcement.