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Pesticide-ridden Indian tea exports face rejection
At a time when Lankan supplies have dried up because of internal crisis and India is trying to take advantage of the shortage in international markets by ramping up exports, the news of chemical adulteration has come as a dampener. Not surprising, in India adulteration of food products is quite rampant and, more pathetically, nobody is responsible!

NEW DELHI, June 4: A damaging controversy over the purity of Indian tea threatens to hold up export consignments as well as domestic consumption. Recently a shipment of 60,000 tonnes of Indian wheat exports were rejected by Turkey over phytosanitary concerns. An overdose of pesticides and fertilisers is a common occurrence in Indian food products, causing a widespread threat to the health of the people.

With an economic crisis affecting production and supplies from Lanka, a major producer of tea, the Indian Tea Borad sought to exploit the situation by ramping up exports to several countries in eastern Europe and Central Aia. Last year India exported 195 million kg of tea worth Rs 5,246 crore.

Indian Tea Exporters Association (ITEA) chairman Anshuman Kanoria has reportedly denied having said that international and domestic buyers have already rejected several consignments of tea due to the high levels of pesticides and chemicals. Reports said the rejection related to the last two months.

Meanwhile, Eurofins Analytical Services India, a tea testing agency, has concluded that the chemical content in Indian tea is higher than the maximum residue levels (MRLs) and does not conform to the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) standard.

The Federation of All India Tea Traders Association (FAITTA), the apex trade body of the packet tea players, said that the test results show that some chemicals are beyond the prescribed limit. The Tea Board has been apprised and "We are not going to buy teas that do not conform to the FSSAI standard."

However, the producers’ organisations, on the other hand, are trying to prevail upon the FSSAI to relax the stringent norms even as the exporters say the importing countries will go by their own set standards of quality. Some tea planters say they continue to export tea directly to clients in Germany, the United Kingdom, Japan, Poland and other markets.

There are also conflicting media reports that the controversy over quality of tea produced was the result of a dispute over trading conditions among buyers and sellers.

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