Share prices in Indian companies producing the deadly dye Sudan 1 have rocketed as Britain steps up its dietary intake of the cancer-causing colorant.
It is now reckoned that 95 per cent of all food consumed in the UK is heavily laced with the chemical and it seems consumers just can't get enough.
Already present in everything from baby food to international cuisine takeaway meals, the uptake of Sudan 1 - outlawed everywhere else in the world - has caught chemical companies in India unaware and many have now been forced into 24/7 working to keep up with the soaring demand.
In fact, Britain has taken the chemical so much to heart - as well as to its liver and colon - that some of the country's most fashionable restaurants have now added bottles of the toxin to tables to stand proudly alongside the usual condiments of salt and pepper.
Sefton Delmer, owner of the five-star Hoffman's in London's fashionable West End, said: "Yes, we know there are dangers associated with Sudan 1 but I believe our clientele are well aware that life is all about having everything in moderation.
"Most of our dishes contain just enough to tickle the palate.
"All our starters, main courses and most of our desserts have some traces of Sudan. However, we won't dictate to the discerning diner so we have provided them with the opportunity to add more to suit their particular taste."
With the British government totally relaxed over the astonishing surge in demand for Sudan 1, despite stringent controls being in place elsewhere in the civilised world, the chemical manufacturers behind its production can barely conceal their glee.
Imran Jophur, managing director of Bhopal Inc, revealed that the KSE 100 Index showed the company's standing, which was 4027.34 on 30 September 2004, reached 5436.60 by 28 February 2005, an astonishing 35% increase. Similarly, market capitalisation increased to UK£ 16.57 million in the 4th quarter of 2004 from UK£0.0001 million in the previous quarter, thereby recording a net appreciation in the prices of shares by UK£ 16.569 billion.
The average daily turnover has also recorded considerable improvement at 809.2 million shares during the period as compared to 1,200 shares in the previous year.
"It's an incredible boost for our business," said Mr Jophur. "We really appreciate the efforts by Prime Minister Tony Blair and his Ministers which have allowed us access to his country's food chain.
"It has been an example of visionary politics."
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