Police in China have seized 20,000 tonnes of industrial grade salt that was sold by a gang as regular table salt, state media reported on Thursday. The salt was found in Beijing, Tianjin, and five other provinces, Henan, Hebei, Anhui, Shandong and Jiangsu, the China News Service reported. The Ministry of Public Security announced on Wednesday that police had broken up the gang behind the fraud. Twenty-two suspects were arrested. The investigation started after police in Taizhou in eastern Jiangsu province tested a batch of salt on sale at a market at the end of last year that was supposed to include iodine found in table salt. But the tests found the samples were high in harmful nitrites and it was lower industrial grade salt. Police investigated distribution and sales channels and found that the “fake salt” was mostly sold to smaller supermarkets and food stores, plus small restaurants in rural and suburban areas. Some was also sold to food processing workshops and work canteens. Taizhou police discovered the salt was packaged at an industrial plant in a rural area of Beijing and some was transported from the capital in the luggage compartments of coaches and buses. Beijing Youth Daily said some of the salt was also sold in Beijing’s wet markets and to buyers in other provinces on the internet. The main suspect in the gang allegedly bought several flats and cars in Beijing with the profits from repackaging industrial salt worth 400 yuan (HK$506) to 450 yuan a tonne and then selling it as higher-grade table salt for 800 yuan to 1,000 yuan a tonne, the newspaper said. Industrial salt is used in a huge number of processes including making glass, polyester and fabric.