Three men who allegedly manufactured and sold fake salt made from toxic pesticide residue have appeared in court in Fuyang city, Anhui province.
The police warned that some of the inedible salt, which is similar to melamine in toxicity, has already made its way on to dining tables.
More than 14,000 tons of the fake salt was sold to markets in 12 provinces and municipalities in China since 2009 when the suspects Xu Jingdong, Tao Xianchu and Liu Wei established a business based in Zhenjiang, Jiangsu province, to purchase waste residue from a nearby chemical engineering factory.
Tests at a toxicology laboratory of China Agricultural University revealed the content of the pesticide was 55 milligrams per kg in the salt, which exceeds the safety standards of 20 milligrams per kg, set by the United States and the European Union.
Experts said the pesticide is similar to melamine in toxicity, which left 300,000 infants sick and killed six children in 2008.
There have been no reports of illness caused by the fake salt in Anhui, according to police.
The waste residue was bought at the price of 10 yuan ($1.58) per kg, but was sold to illegal salt wholesalers at nearly 400 yuan per kg after processing.
The trial is ongoing.