Friday, March 2, 2012

Toxic salt in Poland?

Anonymous sent me a comment after I posted "Is Vinegar just for Fish and Chips?".

In fact, the comment was not relevant to the original post, but I followed up on the quote Anonymous sent me.  It appears that an investigation has been broadcast by an independent Polish television station, TVN.  In the report, the reporter presented evidence of industrial salt - obtained as a waste by-product of calcium chloride production and claimed to contain dangerous carcinogens - being sold wholesale to the food industry as edible salt.

I have been unable to verify this report, because the commentary is, presumably, in Polish, but it has also been reported on CNN iReport, labelled as "Not vetted by CNN".

The programme claimed that up to 1000 tons per month of the waste product, labelled as being intended only for de-icing of roads or as a chemical industry raw material, has been purchased over the last 10 years.  The salt was made as a by-product by a fertiliser company in Poland.  Three Polish businesses have repackaged and on-sold the salt to numerous food processing plants as edible. 

The Polish government has made some arrests of those thought to be responsible, but has not published the identities of any food processors who received the salt.

The concern is that toxins and potential carcinogens have been incorporated into the Polish food supply and, by implication, to some exported foodstuffs.

Food fraud is by no means a new thing and knows no national bounds.  Where there's a fast buck to be made, you can bet that someone will try it.  Unfortunately, this is not a victimless crime - those who suffer are often the unwitting consumers or their children, as we saw in the melamine milk scandal.  Only the vigilance of regulatory authorities and investigative reporters can hope to reduce our exposure to food fraud.

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