Police raided a massive fake salt factory worth ¥20 million across northern parts of China, confiscating a large volume of counterfeit salt and arresting 22 people.

Police footage showing the raid. Photo: Weibo

According to a statement published by the police on Thursday, the raid was carried out in April in Jiangsu and Beijing. The suspects were found to have been labeling industrial salt as “Beijing Salt with Iodine” and selling it in the markets as table salt.

Police footage showing the raid. Photo: Weibo

Police said the group had sold more than 20,000 tonnes of the fake products in Beijing, Tianjin and five other provinces in northern China over a few years.

Statement issued by the Chinese police. Photo: cpd.com.cn

Authorities tested different salt samples sold in the market last November. They began investigating the case after they found the sample to contain zero content of iodine. They were able to confirm the salt as industrial salt after they discovered nitrite content in the sample.

Police footage showing the raid. Photo: Weibo

They added the suspects bought a large volume of industrial salt, and then divide the salt into smaller bags with the fake label for sale. The group then reportedly distributed the products in Beijing and also smaller enterprises by hiding them inside trucks. They have reportedly earned more than ¥20 million by selling the fake products.

Police footage showing the raid. Photo: Weibo

Industrial salt differs from table salt for its lack of iodine content. Iodine is a mineral required by human beings for carrying out metabolism, which is a biological process of breaking down food into energy for our daily use. Iodine deficiency can cause poor memory or damage to the nervous system.

This incident raises concerns again over food safety in China. On June 23, Chinese authorities recalled seven batches of goat’s milk after they were found to be failing safety tests.

Eric Cheung

Eric is currently a Bachelor of Journalism student at the University of Hong Kong. Eric has his finger on the pulse of Hong Kong events and politics. His work has been published on The Guardian, Reuters and ABC News (America).