[EDITORIALS]Combating the salt panic

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[EDITORIALS]Combating the salt panic

A report by two public institutes that several baked-salt products were found to contain large amounts of dioxin, a cancer-causing substance, is causing a nationwide uproar. Depart-ment stores and large discount stores have taken all baked-salt products off their shelves. Manufacturers are hit by export cancellations. Consumers, not knowing how to choose, are terrified and wondering. Nor are restaurants and other food suppliers free from the salt panic.

For all the uproar that they have caused with the report, the Food and Drug Administration and the Gyeonggi Institute of Health and Environment show no efforts to control the situation, merely repeating that salt products baked at over 800 degrees centigrade are safe to consume. The two institutes even showed discrepancies in the test results of certain products, undermining the credibility of the report.

The administration has refused to publicize the brand names of the products involved, saying that it has not tested all the baked-salt products in the market. Those who inquire personally at the institute are told the names of 4, out of 16, products that were found to contain dioxin. In other words, the institute has announced that 16 products are dangerous, but it is sure of its report on only 4. Is this the institute with the duty to "inform the public immediately of any harm found in food products?"

Dioxin is classified as a cancer-causing substance by the International Agency for Research on Cancer. According to the report, the product containing the greatest amount of dioxin would have been potentially dangerous for a 60-kilogram adult ingesting 6 grams of the substance. This is not a matter to be put aside merely because there is no specified amount of dioxin allowed for baked-salt products or because not all the salt products in the market have been tested for the substance.

The administration should immediately make public the names of the products and the amount of dioxin found in each. This is to protect the consumers' right of choice and to shield innocent salt producers from wrongful damage. Then, it should finish testing all salt products and reveal the results of those tests. Finally, it should fix a limit for dioxin in baked-salt products and regulate the products as necessary.
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