CELEBRITY chefs have backed a Harwich food firm which has launched a campaign to increase the number of blood donors from the country’s black, Asian, minority ethnic and mixed race (BAME) communities.

The Rice for Life Campaign, run by Harwich firm Surya Foods over this month, is working with NHS Blood and Transplant at a time when donation levels are particularly low to help save lives.

World Food celebrity chefs Ching He Huang and Cyrus Todiwala have got on board with supporting the Rice for Life Campaign.

Ching He Huang, the author of six best-selling cookbooks, is a British Chinese food writer and TV chef.

Cyrus Todiwala also regularly appears on cooking shows such as BBC One’s Saturday Kitchen and ITV’s Daybreak.

Harry Dulai, Managing Director of Surya Foods, owners of the Laila brand said: “We are delighted to be supporting NHS Blood & Transplant to help raise awareness of this important issue through our popular Laila rice brand.”

Theo Clarke, National BAME marketing manager for NHS blood and transplant, said: “We urgently need 40,000 new black donors to stop the pain experienced by black patients with sickle cell disease.

“We also need more donors from the Asian community to help people from these communities who are more likely to have conditions like Thalassaemia, which require regular blood transfusions.”

For the best clinical outcomes for patients with certain conditions such as sickle cell disease and thalassaemia, patients need blood which is as closely matched to their own blood as possible.

This blood is most likely to come from a donor of the same ethnic background.