More tea chains found using tainted leaves

TAIPEI, Taiwan - Following the tainted tea scare originating with beverage chain Stornaway, fellow tea chain "50 Lan" yesterday was accused of having sold over 7,000 kilograms of pesticide-tainted tea leaves by the Taichung Department of Health.

The Food and Drug Administration announced that it would be testing all imported tea in Taiwan, after four beverage chains were found to be selling tainted teas yesterday.

The Tainan Department of Health headed to the chain stores' headquarters in Tainan after receiving a tip-off from the Taichung Department of Health yesterday, and said that an estimated 7,568 kilograms of tea leaves have been used to make tea that is already being consumed by customers.

According to the Taichung Department of Health, 50 Lan's popular "Four Season Spring Tea" was found to contain 0.003ppm of the pesticide fipronil, which is more than the standard amount of 0.002ppm.

The batch of tainted tea leaves had been purchased from Sanching Tea Manufacturer in Tainan on March 18, said the Tainan Department of Health.

However, the 50 Lan staff provided an SGS test report Sanching delivered on March 2, claiming that the batch of tea leaves was found to contain only 0.002ppm of fipronil.

Tea Leaves Confiscated

Despite the company's claims, the health department proceeded to confiscate another batch of Four Season Spring tea weighing 1,581 kilograms yesterday and ordered the company to stop selling beverages made from the leaves. The other ingredients used by 50 Lan will be tested as well.

The said type of tea was from Nantou.

The health department officials also headed to Sanching's headquarters yesterday, and inspected all the tea leaves in its stock and confiscated all that did not come with a test report.

The Taipei Department of Health also gathered samples of tea leaves from 50 Lan chain stores in Taipei yesterday, and said the results would be announced in three weeks.

The 50 Lan franchises throughout Taiwan all answer to a specific franchise headquarters in a different area. The New Taipei Department of Health said yesterday that it would be investigating on the source of New Taipei tea leaves and the amount of pesticide in the ingredients.

Shengeng Tea Company, the company in charge of all 50 Lan stores in Taipei, said yesterday that it did not understand why the tea in Taichung stores contained more traces of pesticide when all of the stores' products passed national tests.

The company has different franchise headquarters in Taipei, Taoyuan/Miaoli, Taichung, Tainan and Kaohsiung; the original HQ in Yonghe District has moved to Taipei.

Four Beverage Chains Suspicious: Taichung Health Department

The Taichung Health Department said yesterday that after a random inspection of 20 beverage chains, four were found selling teas that allegedly contained more pesticide than allowed, including 50 Lan.

As related laws regulating the acceptable amount of pesticides in teas were amended recently, the health department is still trying to find out the manufacturing dates of the tainted teas.

The laws were amended in July last year, changing the maximum fipronil amount from 0.005ppm to 0.002ppm.

Another one of the beverage chains selling tainted teas is the Tainan-based A Tea. The Tainan Department of Health confiscated 179 kilograms of tainted teas after searching the A Tea headquarters yesterday, while the Taichung-based Tea Shop was said to have in stock Assam black tea containing too much fipronil as well.