Channel 4 has defended an episode of Come Dine With Me that attracted a “surprising” flurry of complaints over alleged racist remarks.

An unspecified number of viewers contacted the broadcaster to complain about an edition broadcast this month in which a contestant made an apparently racial comment about the strength of the curry she was planning to serve to her guests.

Ofcom received a further 31 complaints but has yet to rule on the episode.

Writing on her blog, C4 viewers’ editor Paula Carter – who was appointed in the wake of the Celebrity Big Brother racism row – said racism was “still an extremely sensitive issue for our audiences”.

Carter said C4 daytime head Helen Warner, who commissioned the series, had told her that the show’s context of preparing food that others would enjoy and the “light-hearted manner” in which the comments were phrased mitigated any racial connotations.

“This comment caused a small flurry of complaints, but it was directly related to her food preparation for that evening, and her perception of her guests’ tastes and preferences,” Carter said.

“During the previous meal, her fellow diners had indicated that they did not enjoy chillies in their food to the same extent that she did… The team previewing the episode did not think that it was either intended to be racially abusive or discriminatory or would be interpreted as such by the audience.”

Both Carter and Warner said they were “surprised” by the volume of complaints, though downplayed them against the “benchmark” of CBB’s 2007 series, which attracted 4,724 complaints to Ofcom and several hundred to C4.

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