Harrods' tea from India found with 12-times accepted pesticide levels

TAIPEI, Taiwan - Tea lovers may want to think twice before purchasing costly tea bags from renowned brands, with the Food and Drug Administration revealing yesterday that Harrods' tea from Shin Kong Mitsukoshi was found to contain pesticide residues 12-times in excess of allowable limits.

The FDA has been collaborating with local health bureaus since the tea scare broke out earlier in April. As of June 10, inspectors had tested almost 1,000 tea products around the country, and are continuing to collect samples. Reportedly, 8.06 per cent of the tested samples have failed to meet regulatory standards, officials said.

Harrods' tea is one of the nation's most popular bagged teas. The FDA officials revealed yesterday that three of the company's products, namely Afternoon Ceylon Loose Leaf Tea, English Breakfast Tea and Afternoon Loose Leaf Tea, contained thiacloprid residue at 0.65ppm, 0.3ppm and 0.37ppm, respectively, all of which exceed the legally allowable amount of thiaclorpid residue in tea leaves, which stands at 0.05ppm.

Thiaclorpid is a type of pesticide that can be toxic to humans, causing respiratory paralysis, metabolic acidosis, acute kidney injury and ultimately giving rise to refractory shock and death.

Officials said that tea leaves of the three types of Harrods' tea were imported from India in April, weighing 310 kilograms in total.

In addition, another famous tea chain, Afternoon Tea, was reportedly found to have pesticide residues in its Indian Milk Tea cartons.

None of the batches of tea leaves for Harrods' tea or Afternoon Tea have been sold to consumers, and all will be returned to the exporting countries or destroyed on site.

Fresh Fruits, Containers Intercepted at Customs

Besides tea leaves, several imported fresh fruits and vegetables were also intercepted at customs due to excessive pesticide residues. The products in question include Meiko's oranges and mangoes, Yaji Co. Ltd.'s tangerines, and Long De Trade Co. Ltd.'s celeries from Japan, as well as Agremax International LLC and Standard Fruits Inc.'s cherries from the US

Furthermore, inspectors are continuing to examine imported food containers, discovering that many fail heat-resistance tests. All problematic products are being held by customs authorities. Officials said that most of the heat-resistant containers intercepted are produced by Daiso and Nitori.

According to the FDA, all products that fail to meet regulations will be shipped back to their countries of origin or will be destroyed on site. Please check the FDA website, http://www.fda.gov.tw/TC/index.aspx, for more information.