The Other Sudan

by Quinn

How often has the situation in Darfur dominated news coverage? I know it has been mentioned, and has even been discussed in some detail on Newsnight and Channel 4 News; but has it ever been the first item on all the main news bulletins, and had lengthy and detailed in-depth analysis devoted to it across all channels? If it has happened, then I don’t remember it. But Sudan did briefly take over news broadcasting last week; only it wasn’t Sudan in Africa, but the health scare caused by the toxic dye Sudan 1 being found in a range of foods across the country. Has the media lost all sense of proportion?

Now of course, I am not suggesting that the issue shouldn’t have been covered, but wouldn’t it be nice if the media showed the same zeal in trying to discuss Darfur? And just how did they discuss Sudan 1? First of all, the media were angry that we weren’t informed of the threat sooner. When the Food Standards Agency explained the detailed action they had taken, they were then accused of over reacting and panicking the British public. When the media weren’t complaining about the speed of the FSA’s response they were bemoaning the fact that it had taken the Italian authorities to discover the problem; why did we have to rely on the Italians? Perhaps it is just me, but surely someone has to discover the problem; why not the Italians? But as usual, the media are too busy analysing everything to death and looking for someone to blame.

It seems to me as if the FSA acted about right. They had to pass out the information and products have to be recalled; fine. Sorry though; perhaps I will live to regret this, but I’m not too concerned. Let’s face it; how much Sudan 1 do you need to consume to be in any danger? I can’t imagine much red colouring is needed to go into red chilli powder to make it redder. I don’t think a huge amount of chilli powder goes into making Worcester Sauce. Then, how much Worcester Sauce goes into the food products themselves? I would imagine a dash. So even if you have eaten a contaminated product, you have probably ingested a little of not a lot of a smidgen of Sudan 1.

Is eating burnt toast or sitting in a smoky pub more carcinogenic? Because I did both things last week (although not at the same time; I’m not mad). As the supermarkets clear their shelves of Beef Pot Noodles they are still happily selling tobacco products. And what if you drop your last chip on the floor in a restaurant, and sneakily pop it into you mouth (while no one is looking of course); if that floor has been polished with a product containing Sudan 1, are you getting a more concentrated hit of the toxin?

This story screams of over-reaction on all sides; my Mother-in-law even sent us a frantic text message warning us not to eat at McDonalds. We followed her advice, but for different reasons. No; if it’s all right with you I will reserve my concern for the people of Darfur.