Polish health authorities have ordered recall of more than 230 thousand tons of pickles, bread and other food suspected of containing industrial salt.
The withdrawn foods include vegetables that are preserved in salts, like pickles, sauerkraut and beets as well as some baked goods such as sausages and breads.
Reports of industrial salt, intended for deicing roads in winter, sold to food producers prompted authorities to open a criminal investigation and arrest five people.
Poland's Chief Sanitary Inspectorate has confirmed that industrial salt had indeed found its way into Polish food products but highlighted that there are “no serious health risks”.
“The salt would only pose a threat to health in the case of a large intake,” said Malgorzata Stodolniak, head of the inspectorate’s Department of Food Hygiene and Nutrition in the western Lubuskie region.
According to lab tests, the amounts of dioxins and heavy metals in the salt are minimal and unlikely to harm human health. Nonetheless, health inspectors ordered the removal as a precaution.
The report has, however, raised fears about food safety in Poland which is a major regional food exporter and authorities are concerned that the issue may hurt the country’s economy.
Warnings have been issued to consumers in the Czech Republic, Lithuania, Germany, Ireland and England especially about meat products deemed to be most affected.
The Czech Republic temporarily blocked the import of salt from Poland and Polish food companies expect a greater decline in orders from abroad.
On January, authorities in Iceland reported that a local company had imported industrial salt from a Dutch company and sold it as table salt to over 90 food manufacturers across Iceland.
The activity was done with the knowledge and consent of the Icelandic Food and Veterinary Authority, even though it was a violation of the country’s food law.