13% of tea bags contain too much pesticide: Business Today report

TAIPEI, Taiwan - Business Today reported that around 13 per cent of the tea leaves tested by international inspection firm SGS contain pesticide residue.

In the wake of the most recent oil scandal, another food scare has sabotaged the faith of Taiwanese in the local food industry.

A large amount of tea is consumed by the Taiwanese people daily; consequently the pesticide residue affects many people's health.

Taiwanese spend NT$85 billion (S$3.5 billion) on tea annually, including NT$25 billion for bottled tea and NT$35 billion for tea beverages sold by food providers.

Business Today reported that seven out of 53 tea products and eight out of 58 samples contain pesticide exceeding the legal amount.

One tea product among the supposedly qualified products contains 22 types of pesticides within the legal limit, making this product "qualified yet unsafe."

Some products were removed from shelves after the results came out.

Out of the 53 products and 58 samples sent to SGS for inspection by Business Today, only 10 bottled tea beverages bought from convenience stores did not contain pesticides.

The rest all contain different levels of pesticides.

According to Business Today, most of these samples contain too many kinds of pesticides. Tea Research and Extension Station (TRES) Wen Shan branch Director Wu Chia-Chang said that many farmers use six to eight kinds of pesticides at most while tending to their tea plants.

Wu added that after plant metabolism occurs, even less pesticides are left in the tea leaves. The results show that a staggering 15 samples contain more than eight kinds of pesticides.

Yen Tsung-hai, a toxicologist at Chang Gung Memorial Hospital, said that although the pesticides in question are not categorized as carcinogens, there are still health risks when consuming pesticides over a period of time, including irregular breathing, shivering, lessening of appetite and an enlarged liver.