17 Jul

If It Can Be Made, It Can Be Faked

By Elizabeth Bellaver


Think That Counterfeits Are Only High End Goods?  How About Table Salt?

China National Salt Industry Corporation (CNSIC) is China's largest state-owned enterprise of salt producers and suppliers. Its annual output has reached approximately 12 million tons, of which approximately one-third is table salt. When I think of table salt, I think of something that is cheap, all over the highway [literally], and not very exciting.  But China is having a problem with counterfeit salt.  There have been recent stories in the South China Morning Post and Hong Kong Free Press and the UK’s Royal Society of Chemistry, about the capture of salt counterfeiters and the risks posed by “fake” salt – or industrial salt posing as table salt.

Industrial salt does not contain iodine and it can be mingled with other chemicals during the production process – making it an even bigger health risk if it’s eaten. However, illegally selling industrial salt in China, because of CNSIC’s monopoly, can be highly profitable. The price of edible salt is nearly 10 times that of industrial salt. According to the salt regulations, industrial salt producers can only sell their products to alkali and other chemical firms, but smaller producers often violate the rules for higher profits.

China has about 3,000 salt producing companies with a total output of 68 million tons of crude salt annually. Only 8 million tons of this is processed into edible salt and the remainder is used in industry. China’s Center for Disease Control and Prevention, says nationwide surveys have found residents, particularly those in rural regions, purchase the illegal salt – most processed from industrial salt – because of its lower price and the inconvenience in obtaining the iodized salt from the government monopoly.

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