History lessons: Know your subject - Edwina Currie

Twenty years ago, on 3 December 1988, Edwina Currie, a junior health minister, told TV reporters that most of Britain's eggs were infected with salmonella. Sales fell 60% overnight. Farmers had to slaughter four million hens and destroy 400 million eggs. Yet 'Eggwina' had no evidence for her claim. The British Egg Industry Council placed ads in newspapers saying that 30 million eggs had been consumed every day the year before, with only 26 reported cases of the disease. Currie's chickens soon came home to roost. She resigned on 17 December as the Government mounted a multi-million-pound compensation package for a near-bankrupt egg industry. She'd previously claimed that northerners were dying of 'ignorance and chips'; told the elderly to wear long-johns in winter; and said that 'Good Christian people' wouldn't catch Aids - all the while conducting an affair with PM-to-be John Major. The lesson? Get your facts straight before you talk, or you may end up with curried egg on your face.

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