Sun, Apr 26, 2015 - Page 3 News List

Farmers defend Nantou tea leaves amid concern

By Loa Iok-sin  /  Staff reporter

A Nantou County tea farmer is joined by Democratic Progressive Party Legislator Tsai Huang-lang, second right, and other farmers at a press conference in the Legislative Yuan in Taipei yesterday.

Photo: George Tsorng, Taipei Times

Amid rising safety concerns about tea leaves produced in Nantou County, tea farmers from the area yesterday said their products have passed all safety inspections, questioning whether the suspect tea leaves have been contaminated in later manufacturing processes.

The farmers showed certificates and other documents showing that their products have passed all safety inspections at a press conference in Taipei, after it was discovered that tea products with pesticide residues sold from several chain tea stores were made with tea grown from their county.

Nantou Tea Farmers’ Association president Hsieh Ming-ching (謝明璟) said that aside from outside inspections, the farmers themselves set strict guidelines about the way they grow their products.

“This incident has already caused some damage to the industry; we’re very worried that it’s going to destroy the business that we have invested so much effort into building,” he said.

Taiwan Confederation of the Tea Industry member Ho Chi-hsiang (何啟祥) said that as now is the time for spring harvest, in delivering samples for inspection, “we’re very careful about using pesticides and we would provide inspection documents for customers upon request.”

“We hope consumers will not lose faith in Taiwanese tea,” he said.

Democratic Progressive Party Legislator Tsai Huang-liang (蔡煌瑯), who joined the tea farmers at the press conference, said Nantou County’s Department of Agriculture conducts inspections every year in major tea growing areas in the county, including Lugu (鹿谷), Jhushan (竹山), Yuchi (魚池) and Renai (仁愛) townships.

“Seven-hundred-and-fifty samples were tested this year and ... 96 percent passed the inspection on pesticide residues,” he said.

“The government should check if the tea products were contaminated in later manufacturing processes before releasing the information. It should not hold farmers responsible for everything,” he said.

Liu Fang-ming (劉芳銘), director of the Food and Drug Administration’s Southern Taiwan Management Center, said that there is a possibility that tea retailers could mix imported tea leaves with locally produced ones.

“We will continue to investigate it,” Liu said.

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