As the nuclear disaster situation in Japan continues, Chinese consumers are getting increasingly restless. Today, many Chinese media outlets reported that salt and salty products like soy sauce were selling out at record speeds, and indeed, “salt” and “soy sauce” are both upwardly-trending terms on Sina Weibo right now. Why?
Two reasons: first, there’s a run on idiodized salt products because people know that iodine can prevent radiation absorbtion. However, potential crazed consumers, know this: idodized salt will not help you. Not only would you have to eat a ton of salt (25o tablespoons a day, according to MyHealthBeijing) for it to be useful. Iodine’s radiation-absorbing qualities are apparently diminished by the presence of chloride in salt, which displaces iodine, and even further diminished by drinking water (assuming the water contains floride). Good luck washing down your 250 spoons of salt per day!
Oh, and sea salt? Yeah, that’s even less effective than the regular stuff.
It turns out, if you want something that does what potassium idodide tablets do, your best — and really only — option is potassium iodide tablets.
The second reason people are hoarding salt all of a sudden appears to be out of concern that all the sea salt will soon be contaminated with radiation, so it’s best to snatch up the untainted salt on shelves now while it’s still available. This concern seems to be completely unfounded, though, as there’s no evidence that the current situation will lead to worldwide contamination of salt — or any other food product.
Of course, the situation in Japan is changing rapidly, so keep your eyes on the news for the latest official updates. But there’s no need to go out and hoard salt. You can take those rumors with a grain of…well, salt. Just don’t overdo it.