WARSAW - Polish health authorities have ordered the withdrawal from the market of more than 500,000 pounds of pickles, bread, and other food suspected of containing industrial salt, the latest development in a scandal raising fears about food safety.
Lab tests have found that 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, officials said.
Revelations that industrial salt was sold to food producers has prompted authorities to open a criminal investigation and arrest five people. More than 600 tests have also been carried out on food samples. The industrial salt was intended for deicing roads in winter.
Poland is a major regional food exporter, and officials fear the issue will hurt its reputation in a sector key to an economy that has grown fast in recent years. With much of its territory devoted to agriculture, Poland produces everything from apples and beets to eggs and meat sold to Germany and other neighboring countries.
The withdrawn foods include vegetables preserved in salts, such as pickles, sauerkraut, and beets, also sausages and breads.
Even if the salt used does not contain anything harmful, it still is not enriched with iodine, as the law requires for food, according to Polish officials.
It said that three companies in northern and western Poland are suspected of selling industrial salt to food producers, a violation that came to light about two weeks ago.