Salt Panic In China Prompted By Radiation Fears
Widespread rumors that iodized salt consumption protects against radiation have sparked a salt panic in China.
The recent damage to Japans Fukushima No. 1 power plant has incited mass radiation fears in China, leading crowds of citizens to rush nearby grocery stores for iodized salt in major cities such as Beijing, Hangzhou and Shanghai.
Chinas economic policy agency, the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC), is warning consumers to be wary of price gauging, urging them to disregard the false rumors surrounding the possible radiation threat.
"Don't believe rumors, don't spread rumors, and don't panic buy," the NDRC said in a statement to Reuters.
China Salt Industry, Chinas largest state-owned salt producer, reported that 370,000 tons of salt were sold on Thursday, which is equivalent to the amount typically sold in 24 days. Although Chinas Ministry of Commerce posted a statement on its web site assuring citizens that Chinas salt supply is plentiful and safe, grocery stores continue to have trouble keeping salt on their shelves.
Consumers are also stockpiling salt in response to speculation that Chinese salt supplies will soon be radioactively contaminated due to oceanic drift. However, the Chinese National Marine Environmental Forecasting Center sought to debunk those rumors, noting that ocean currents in the Pacific were flowing east, away from China.
"It is impossible for radioactive substances to reach China's sea areas via the ocean current," the Forecasting Center said in a statement to the New China News Agency.