Renowned tea beverage chain 50 Lan yesterday became embroiled in an ongoing pesticide scare revolving around tea chain store Stornaway, after one of its tea beverages was found to contain excessive levels of fipronil.
The chain, which has more than 500 branches nationwide, was among 20 tea beverage stores inspected by the Taichung City Government’s Health Bureau on April 1 and 2.
The bureau said it tested a total of 32 beverage products for pesticide residues, with four testing positive.
The “four season tea” from 50 Lan’s Daming branch in the city’s Dali District contained fipronil at 0.003 parts per million (ppm); the black tea from A Tea’s Siangsin branch was found to have 0.005ppm of fipronil; the Assam black tea from Tea Shop had 0.004ppm of fipronil; and the Tieguanyin tea from Kuang Fu Hsin Tea Co had 0.008ppm of fipronil and 0.07ppm of insecticide ethion.
“However, given that the maximum permissible levels for fipronil in edible products was reduced from 0.005ppm to 0.002ppm in July last year, we have requested local health bureaus where each of the four tea stores is located to ascertain whether the tea leaves in question were produced before or after the policy change,” Taichung Health Bureau Deputy Director Tsai Shu-feng said.
As no residue of ethion is allowed in beverages and with the level of fipronil found in its tea product being higher than the original maximum allowable level, Tsai said the bureau has referred Kuang Fu Hsin for discipline and ordered it to stop selling its Tieguanyin tea beverage.
50 Lan’s central area manager, Ma Ya-fen, yesterday afternoon posted a picture on Facebook of an SGS test report on its green tea ingredients, urging the chain’s customers to rest assured that its product met required standards.
Tainan City Government Department of Health official Wang Chi-shan said the tested sample from 50 Lan belonged to a batch of 7,568kg tea leaves the company purchased from Tainan-based San Ching Tea Manufacturing Co on March 18.
“Each batch of tea leaves acquired from San Ching came with an SGS test report. The one for the March 18 batch showed that the tea leaves contained fipronil at merely 0.002ppm, which met the government’s regulations,” Wang said.
Wang said 50 Lan has requested a retest, but the bureau ordered a preventive recall of the tea beverage regardless, to ensure public safety.
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) yesterday said that all imported tea leaves and flower petals have been subjected to a batch-by-batch border inspection since Tuesday, in response to the pesticide scare.
“Importers who pass three border inspection tests in a row could see the inspection rate of their goods drop to 50 percent, and further to 20 percent and 5 percent, pending the inspection results,” FDA Director-General Chiang Yu-mei told a press conference in Taipei.
Chiang said Taiwan imports tea leaves and flower petals from a total of 47 countries, with those from Vietnam accounting for nearly 70 percent.
• 2009 article: Resurgence of Fipronil in China