Tue, Jun 02, 2015 - Page 3 News List

High pesticide levels in teas, school meals

By Stacy Hsu  /  Staff reporter

A customer buys a beverage from an outlet of the chain tea store Share Tea in Taipei yesterday. The Taipei City Government’s Department of Health yesterday ordered two popular tea chains to remove three tea beverages from sale due to excessive pesticide residues.

Photo: CNA

The Taipei City Government Department of Health yesterday ordered two popular tea chains to suspend sales of three tea beverages after they were found to contain excessive levels of pesticide residues.

Tests also confirmed excessive pesticide residues in vegetables served to school children.

The three items were among 44 tea leaf products tested by the department in April. They were Orange Tea’s (橘子工坊) “four seasons tea” (四季春) and jasmine green tea (茉香綠茶) and Share Tea’s (歇腳亭) black tea.

According to the department, Orange Tea’s four season tea contained 0.09 parts per million (ppm) of the pesticide ametryn — the residue of which is not allowed in edible products.

The tea was a mixture of tea leaves manufactured by two different tea factories in Nantou County.

A retest is being scheduled to verify which of the two factories is responsible for the tainted tea leaves, the department said.

Orange Tea’s jasmine green tea was contaminated with 0.006ppm of fipronil, higher than the maximum permissible level of 0.002ppm, while Share Tea’s black tea was contaminated with fipronil at a level of 0.01ppm.

“The two tea chains have been requested to remove and suspend sales of the tainted teas. They are to fined between NT$60,000 and NT$200 million (US$1,960 and US$6.53 million) in accordance with the Act Governing Food Safety and Sanitation (食品安全衛生管理法),” the department said.

Meanwhile, three of the 161 ingredients used in school meals tested by the department in March were found to contain high levels of pesticide residues.

Among them were rape greens served at Shilin Elementary School, which contained 0.33ppm of the pesticide boscalid, about 32 times the maximum allowable level of 0.01ppm; Taiwanese lettuce served at Beitou Elementary School, which had 0.05ppm of tebuconazole, which has a maximum permissible level of 0.01ppm; and oranges provided by the Wen Chang Primary School, which contained 0.05ppm of propiconazole, higher than the limit of 0.03ppm.

“The foods were unwashed when they were tested. We have notified the schools of the results and requested their contracted meal preparation companies stop using ingredients from the same suppliers,” the department’s Food and Drug Division director Wang Ming-li (王明理) told a press conference yesterday morning.

Wang said the companies were to be fined a maximum of NT$200 million.

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