Very high levels of sodium nitrite have been detected in samples of meat sent for analysis as part of investigations into the death of one person in Poland.

The National Veterinary Research Institute in Puławy examined products provided by investigators.

They are suspected to be behind the death of a 54-year-old from Ukraine and the hospitalization of two other people, aged 67 and 72, with food poisoning symptoms.

Stanisław Winiarczyk, director of the veterinary institute in Puławy, told local station Radio Lublin that the concentration of sodium nitrite ranged from 16,000 to 19,000 milligrams per kilogram of product.

It is believed the substance was added to the products by mistake. Sodium nitrite is used in cured meat, but not in such a high concentration. Nitrite is added to certain foods to prevent the growth of Clostridium botulinum, which causes botulism poisoning.

Scientists also examined meat provided by investigators. Although trace amounts of sodium nitrite were found, the concentration was not dangerous to humans. Other results from the analysis for a range of other substances are still pending.

Two people are facing charges in connection with the incident. They are a married couple, aged 55 and 56, who sold pig meat products they made at home at the market.

The Government Centre for Security (RCB) warned people not to eat meat from unverified sources bought at a market in Nowa Dęba in Tarnobrzeg County over one weekend in February due to a health risk.

 The District Prosecutor’s Office in Tarnobrzeg is also investigating the incident.

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