Screengrab. Post on Facebook about goldi chickens.

Johannesburg - It may be regarded as revealing, but the old adage that a picture tells a thousand words has become a thorn in the backside of a local poultry brand.

An article appearing on a local news website regarding the dangers of American chicken imported and “dumped” in South Africa containing cancer-causing arsenic has caused a social media stir, with the Goldi chicken brand taking a knock in the wake of the frenzy.

The photograph of a Goldi product, which appeared alongside the article, has since resulted in images and messages of the brand’s product as being harmful proliferating across various online streams.

One such post on Facebook, written by a group named Word To The Wise, read: “People please pay attention: the Goldi chicken product(s) that are selling at R10 reduced price are the American sick chickens; they are GMO (Genetically Modified Organisms). Please do not buy them. These chickens are injected with harmful substances that cause cancer pleas (sic) spread this around.

“I saw at a shopping centre people buying these sickly things in large amounts and when I told them they called me crazy. This is no joke.”

Another post, by Jabu Tshabalala, warned of the chicken being sold at a supermarket in the Joburg CBD at the marked-down price of R10.

“Our people will be diagnosed by desease (sic) while we sit and watch, can we please warn our people especially in locations and rural areas about this cancer-causing chicken please, our people will die off (sic) this chicken, why is the system trying to sell it so fast.”

The hashtag #GoldiChicken became a trending topic on Twitter, with some users confused over the allegations, and some actively campaigning for a ban of the brand.

Astral Poultry’s managing director Theo Delport was at pains to emphasise that the brand was a “100 percent” South African product yesterday and that the allegations were not only false, but “highly defamatory”.

Astral, the poultry producing company which owns the Goldi brand, produces 460 000 tons of chicken a year. Explaining the negative impact the article and picture had, Delport said: “Consumer trust in the Goldi brand has been damaged. We had numerous calls and enquiries on our website pertaining to the negative social media comments.

“The social media posts have continued to escalate with ongoing public calls to consumers to avoid buying or consuming Goldi products.”

Delport said the company was “very upset” at these allegations and were considering taking legal action. He denied claims the chicken contained cancer-causing arsenic.

“We again repeat we do not import any chicken from the US, our products are 100 percent South African and are safe for human consumption,” he said.

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The Star