Salmonella and media intrusion: food safety policy and politics upset

Ed Randall

in Food, Risk and Politics

Published by Manchester University Press

Published in print July 2009 | ISBN: 9780719072307
Published online July 2012 | e-ISBN: 9781781702918 | DOI:
Salmonella and media intrusion: food safety policy and politics upset

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This chapter examines a national alarm in the UK, said to be have been provoked by the careless talk of a junior health minister in Margaret Thatcher's last administration. The minister concerned, a colourful Conservative politician, Edwina Currie, vehemently denied that she had acted irresponsibly by drawing the public's attention to health risks associated with the presence of salmonella in eggs. Her claims that salmonella in eggs posed a serious health threat produced more heat than light in Whitehall, Parliament and the press; but it was a story that the press proved reluctant, until the minister's departure, to let go. It has been described as a classic example of a media ‘feeding frenzy’. The political turbulence caused by Currie's warnings about salmonella in eggs signalled a deep disturbance in food policy and interactions between media, politics, and public opinion that were to become increasingly difficult to manage.

Keywords: food scare; health minister; Edwina Currie; salmonella; eggs; health risks; media frenzy; food policy

Chapter.  8346 words. 

Subjects: Political Theory

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