21 December 2001
Chinese food jibe is ‘smear of year’

By FWi staff

STORIES about Chinese restaurants being the most likely source of foot-and-mouth have won MAFF an award in The Independents Smear of the Year Awards.

The paper has given the former Ministry of Agriculture the accolade of achieving the most “expensive smear of the year”.

The award comes from when “a source” within the ministry suggested infected meat from Chinese restaurants in Newcastle could be the source of the disease.

The paper reports how ministers refused to deny the story until 1000 protesters descended on MAFFs offices.

The next day, the farm minister of the time, Nick Brown, told the Daily Telegraph that media reports were untrue and based on speculation.

“The smear was cynical, vaguely plausible, highly damaging, widely believed – and entirely untrue,” said The Independents judges.

Newcastles Chinese restaurants have since won 20,000 compensation from the government for damage to their businesses.

Foot-and-mouth – confirmed outbreaks
Foot-and-mouth – FWi coverage
Recovery plan – Full coverage