The dangerous cup

Some popular Indian brands of tea have high levels of lead

Published: Thursday 15 January 1998

Products of some of the major tea companies in India are reported to have high lead content, according to a press release from the Ahmedabad-based Consumer Education and Research Society (CERS). To obtain the Ecomark, the Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS) has set the maximum limit of 6.5 parts per million (ppm) for lead content in tea. The popular brands that failed to meet the standards include Red Label, Taj Mahal, Tata Tea, Duncan Sargam and Wagh Bakri.

However, CERS says that lead content in all the 43 domestic brands of tea was less than 10 ppm, the limit stipulated by the Prevention of Food Adulteration (PEA) Act. A test conducted at the comparative product-testing laboratory of CERS showed that most of the brands had DDT levels of 0.1-0.3 ppm. Whereas, residues of pesticides such as ethion and dicofol in all the brands were within the permissible limit of 5 ppm set by the PEA Act.

The CERS study confirmed that two dust tea brands - Taj Mahal and Tea Quik - and all other leaf brands - Cheers Darjeeling, D'ling, Cheers Nilgris, Green Label, Twinings, Lopchu Flowery Orange Pekoe and Lopchu Golden Orange Pekoe - had wooden pieces in their packs. As per Indian Standards, tea should be free from extraneous matters.

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