Japan’s nuclear crisis is fueling panic in China, where shoppers have spurred a run on salt in attempt to prevent radiation-related illnesses and to secure uncontaminated salt sources. China’s top economic agency, the National Development and Reform Commission, warned consumers Thursday against hoarding salt, and said it would work with local authorities to maintain price stability and market supply. Grocery store shelves have been ransacked over the past several days.
Consumers in cities along the China’s coastline, such as Shanghai and Guangzhou, and even in inland capital Beijing, began stockpiling table salt after problems at Japan’s Fukushima Daiichi nuclear-power complex sparked concerns that radiation would spread to China by air and sea, possibly contaminating the land and future food sources.
While iodized table salt does contain healthy, nonradioactive iodine, health authorities say it doesn’t contain enough to protect the body against damage from radioactive iodine that may be released during a nuclear event. Further, only a fraction of China’s salt for consumption comes from the sea, said Song Zhangjing, a spokesman for industry organization the China Salt Association. “In China, most salt are from salt mines.”