As more tea store chains became embroiled in a pesticide scare, food safety specialists yesterday urged the public to refrain from drinking tea made from a first infusion and demanded the government step up its monitoring of pesticide use in edible products.
“There are about 70 types of environmental hormones. Among them, about 40, including dichloro-diphenyl-trichloroethane [DDT], dioxin-like polychlorinated biphenyls and plasticizers, can impede proper hormone function; increase the risk of cancer and birth defects; and cause the feminization of mammals, fish and birds,” Academia Sinica vice president Chen Chien-jen (陳建仁) told a forum on battling cancer in Taipei.
Chen said that long-term consumption of beverages made from pesticide-laced tea leaves could increase the risk of cancers. He urged the government to improve monitoring of tea farmers’ use of pesticides, and called on consumers to opt only for stores whose ingredients are proven by inspections to be free of pesticide residue.
Research has associated exposure to environmental hormones with higher risks of breast, ovarian, prostate, testicular and thyroid cancers, Chen said.
“It is worth noting that plasticizers can make one more prone to developing breast cancer, so the public is advised to avoid heating foods covered with plastic wrap in a microwave oven, regularly replace plastic containers with new ones and only put containers made from transparent glass or ceramics in a microwave,” he said.
Tan Tun-tzu (譚敦慈), widow of toxicology expert Lin Chieh-liang (林杰樑), said she conducted an experiment in which dried rose and chrysanthemum buds were first washed with cold running water for two minutes before being immersed in boiling water for three to five minutes.
“The result was that more than 90 percent of the pesticide residue contained in the buds was washed away,” Tan said.
People should not drink tea made from a first infusion to avoid consuming high levels of pesticide residue and stay away from tea leaves contaminated with DDT, as it is not water-soluble and is therefore harder to wash away, she said.
DDT was the insecticide found last month in the rose tea ingredients used by tea chain Stornaway (英國藍), a discovery that set off a nationwide pesticide scare that has widened to several other chains.
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