Indian Tea Faces Contamination Claims

Tea recently sourced from India may be contaminated with chemicals like nicotine and heavy metals like arsenic and the Tea Board of India has asked the Tea Research Association (TRA) and the United Planters’ Association of Southern India (UPASI) to study the source of these substances, according to The Economic Times.

However, tea farmers in India do not see reason to fear this contamination. Many believe that quality tea will be sold on the market, not contaminated tea.

Claiming that tea is indeed tainted, Tea Board research officer A Basu Majumdar has said, “Nicotine content was reported from one of the tea consignments from Germany.There are instances of heavy metal like arsenic being detected in tea.”

A base line survey completed by the Assam government and Tea Board in 14 tea-producing districts has shown that some growers use dangerous insecticides such as phenol and dichlorodiphenyltrichloroethane ( DDT) in the tea bushes to fight insecticides.

An unnamed tea exported was quoted as saying, “Several food items contain nicotine and other substances and European Union (EU) and other countries are working on it. There is nothing to worry about.”

KK Baheti, chief financial officer of McLeod Russel India said, “Those countries which are importing teas from us follow the EU standards of maximum residue limit or have evolved their own stringent measures of laboratory test. Any tea that is not up to the standard will not find place in exporting countries.” Tea Board chairman MGVK Bhanu said: “There might be some instance of inferior quality tea getting circulated. But the Tea Board has made it clear that quality parameters have to be complied with and only good tea reaches the market.”

Majumdar said: “The basic problem is that till now no one knows from where these substances get in. The study, expected to be completed shortly, will tell us precisely whether these non-permissible substances make their entry in the farm, or during the processing or in the handling.” ┬áTea Board officials have begun randomly sampling teas to test for contamination.

SOURCE: The Economic Times