Vigilant consumer watchdogs have foiled a terrorist plot which could have literally brought Britain to its knees.
Government boffins detected a high content of the banned colouring chemical Khani-Sedan 2 in a number of leading brand toilet tissues. The compound, used to enhance delicate pastel shades, is a slow-acting but highly vigorous rectal irritant.
Lying dormant within the muscle walls for up to three months, the chemical then ignites massive inflammation of the blood vessels, leading to chronic ulcerated haemorrhoids.
Trading Standards officers the length and breadth of the country were alerted to the scare yesterday and swung into their emergency planning procedures.
All stores were alerted and the offending produce swept off the shelves with customers simply being told their favourite brands had "sold out".
"There is no immediate threat to anyone's health," said Consumer Minister Sefton Delmer.
"We are confident that we have isolated the batches contaminated and the quantities involved pose no serious short-term health risk.
Mr Delmer added that this incident, alarming though it was, had provided a salutary lesson in the war against ‘consumer terrorism'.
"If, for instance, this had been Sudan 1, the highly carcinogenic food colouring, and it had managed to enter the British food chain, the implications for our citizens, and the country, could have been very far reaching indeed," he said.
Although reports are yet unsubstantiated, it is believed Al Qaeda obtained quantities of Khani-Sedan 2 from an illegal manufacturer in Pakistan. It was then transported to northern India where either an unsuspecting or collusive processing plant added the chemical to the colourings bound for the UK toilet tissue market.
If the plot had gone undetected, millions of affected UK citizens would have, within a few weeks, been unable to sit down. The impact on education, employment, transport and the emergency services could have been catastrophic - as would the pressure that would have been placed on the country's already strained National Health Service.
The relevant Government authorities have already posted the offending products on their websites and consumers are being urged to seal all toilet rolls in heavy duty polythene and take them immediately to their local civic amenity site where they will be incinerated.
"This is merely an extra safety precaution," assured Mr Delmer. "There really is no immediate health danger. As long as people use Latex or rubber gloves to handle the tissue and wear a face mask, then burn their clothes afterwards, there is very little risk."