@ Vikas Sharma | Sr Journalist
New Delhi: Processed iodized salt sold by premium brands in India contains carcinogenic and other harmful components such as cyanide at alarming levels, reveals a report by an US analytical laboratory.
American West Analytical Laboratories, which conducted the test, reveals that Tata Salt contains cyanide levels at an alarming 1.85mg/kg. While the cyanide level in Sambhar Refined Salt is 4.71mg/kg, the level is 1.90 mg/kg in Tata Salt Lite.
Shiv Shankar Gupta, Chairman of Godhum Grains & Farm Product took the initiative to get the test done on numerous Indian salt brand.
Mr. Gupta, a 91 year old veteran, who is also known as father of India’s gemstone industry, has been on a mission to rid salt of harmful substances. He has been spearheading a campaign to expose corrupt practices by the salt industry in the production and marketing of salt and provide healthy variant of salt to people.
“Leading companies in the edible salt manufacturing industry are simply repackaging industrial waste laden with hazardous chemicals like iodine and cyanide and marketing it as packaged edible salt, making people vulnerable to diseases like cancer, hyperthyroidism, high BP, impotence, obesity and kidney failure,” says Shiv Shankar Gupta.
“They adopt dangerous and undisclosed processes such as bleaching and adding a plethora of dangerous chemicals like iodine and cyanide to ‘refine’ the salt. Cyanide, a well-known poison, is freely used in refined salt by leading salt manufactures in India. Iodine, which is anyway present in natural salt, is artificially added, virtually rendering the salt as poison,” he said.
According to him, nowhere in the world is potassium ferro cyanide, a deadly poison, allowed for use in edible salt industry or for that matter in any food item.
“India’s indigenous natural salt industry, spread over Kutch, Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan, has systematically been destroyed by successive governments, hailing ‘iodized’ salt as a healthy alternative. Declaring salt from these salt pans, which is naturally suited for human consumption, as inedible is one of the biggest scams in post-independent India. This is one of the worst cases of corporate greed and corruption with the livelihood of workers in the indigenous salt industry at stake. With an eye on profit and putting human lives at risk, poison is being packaged and sold as edible salt by leading salt manufacturers in India,” he says.
A strong government-industry lobby has been cheating workers of the indigenous pan salt industry. Salt, which is found in its most natural form in India’s salt pans, is being sold at exorbitantly high prices, leaving the price-conscious consumer with no alternative but to buy the cheap chemical-laced variant, says Gupta.
Government departments entrusted with the task of ensuring quality standards in the production of branded salt have been inert. RTI applications have shown that none of the big salt manufacturers have applied for testing or licensing with FSSAI, which, on its part, has been unambiguous as to how refined salt is produced.
“Food testing labs in India are not equipped to measure the quantity of cyanide in salt,” he added.