TAIPEI, Taiwan - Tainan City's Department of Health yesterday ordered beverage chain Stornaway to suspend operations at its 96 branches nationwide after its black tea was found to contain pesticide residue for the second time in two weeks,
The Tainan District Prosecutors Office, which is investigating the chain after the discovery of pesticide residue in its rose tea last week, has opened a separate investigation into the latest case.
The Tainan District Prosecutors Office will be collaborating with the Taipei District Prosecutors Office, and it has already summoned the owner of the branch. The owner allegedly claimed innocence when summoned.
A separate probe was launched last week when the Tainan District Prosecutors Office discovered 13 kinds of pesticide in imported ingredients for rose tea; a prosecutor said yesterday that if the Tainan prosecutors believed Stornway's Tainan headquarters or Tainan-based chains were guilty, it would be handling the case itself, but if not, the entire case may be transferred to the Taipei District Prosecutors Office.
Owners Unreachable After Fax Message
According to the Taipei City Department of Health, Stornaway reported to the Tainan City Department of Health yesterday that the three kinds of tea leaves it purchased from Taipei-based Chou Chieh Enterprise were found to contain pesticide residue.
The report was made via fax message, and the Taipei City Department of Health said that Stornaway personnel could not be contacted after the message was received.
In the message, Stornaway claimed that the batch of tea leaves it submitted voluntarily for tests contained pesticide residue. The 330 kilograms of Earl Grey tea leaves, 150 kilograms of Ceylon tea leaves and 240 kilograms of Darjeeling were all purchased from Chou Chieh Enterprise last month, the company said, also adding that it has pulled all the tainted products from their stores.
The Tainan Department of Health then notified its Taipei counterpart of the message.
Taipei City Department of Health official Wang Ming-li said that after receiving the message from the Tainan Department of Health, his department confirmed using Food Tracer Taipei that Stornaway's black tea leaves were indeed purchased from Chou Chieh, and the registered place of origin was Sri Lanka.
The prosecution was then alerted to the batch of tainted black tea leaves, and headed to the company's Taipei office on Liaoning Street and confiscated 20 boxes of the three types of tea leaves, amounting to 600 kilograms in total.
Wang said that the Stornaway staff who contacted the health department could not be reached after the message, and that all 26 chain stores in Taipei were closed yesterday. The company's office on Chungqing South Road could not be reached for a reply.
Tainan authorities failed at first to reach the company's Tainan office yesterday, and discovered that all 11 shops in Tainan were closed. The authorities confiscated the rest of the tainted tea leaves from the Tainan warehouse in the afternoon, after the company staff were contacted.