A FAMILY is facing the ruin of their business because of a malicious rumour being spread about their restaurant business.

Xu Qiau Wu and her husband Cai Ming have run The Dragon Chinese restaurant in Fisherton Street, Salisbury, for the past 11 years.

But the couple, who have a son at school in the city and a daughter at university, have been left devastated and unsure of the future after a rumour that a dead cat was found in their freezer.

Despite having no basis in fact, the rumour has spread like wildfire and has led to business dropping off by a third in just two months.

Mrs Wu said: “My son heard this first at school and we have no idea where it came from.

“The past few years have been hard for all businesses and we were struggling already but surviving. But then this started happening and takings dropped by a third. It is completely untrue.”

Wiltshire Council’s Environmental Health Officers carried out a routine inspection of the premises in March.

The full inspection looked at supply chains, traceability, storage and hygiene practices, and found nothing to suggest anything untoward.

All meat was bought from reputable suppliers, food safety standards and management was found to be good and all meat is purchased from reputable suppliers.

The business was awarded three stars under the council’s Food Hygiene Star Rating Scheme.

A spokesman for the council said: “The allegation was completely unfounded.”

But the couple, who employ six people in the restaurant, are becoming increasingly concerned that the rumours being spread about them could ruin their livelihood.

Mrs Wu said: “People come in and make cat noises at us which may be funny to them but to us it’s our business and it’s not just about our family but also the people we employ.”