Tea Board directs its producers, and sellers to strictly adhere to the quality standards of FSSAI.
According to an official, the Tea Board, which is part of the commerce ministry, has directed all producers and sellers of the commodity to strictly adhere to the quality standards of food safety regulator FSSAI before selling the product.
According to the official, the board has warned that no tea consignment that has failed on Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) test parameters should be released from the warehouse until the Tea Board receives broker feedback and further direction in the matter.
These instructions come at a time when certain tea consignments have had quality issues in recent years. According to a report from the Federation of All India Tea Traders Association (FAITTA), certain tea samples failed FSSAI tea testing parameters. The samples mostly have problems with MRLs (maximum residue limits) of certain pesticides.
MRLs are defined by the Tea Board as the maximum concentration of pesticide residue (expressed as milligrammes of residue per kilogramme of food/animal feeding material) likely to occur in or on food and feeding material following pesticide use, according to Good Agricultural Practice (GAP).
To improve tea quality, the Tea Board conducts regular visits and inspections of various manufacturing units/warehouses and collects tea samples to ensure tea quality.
If substandard teas are discovered, the board will not allow them to be marketed. Depending on the severity of the violation, the board may also suspend or cancel registrations under the law and issue control orders.
Furthermore, the official stated that the board has proposed some measures to deal with the matter, including conducting independent testing on FSSAI parameters in cases where the reports of testing conducted by sellers and buyers on an individual basis are contradictory to each other.
It has proposed that in such cases, a new sample be drawn from the lots rejected by the buyer members by Tea Board in the presence of the broker, seller, and buyer for pesticide residue testing.
The sample will be sent in a coded manner to any NABL (National Accreditation Board for Testing and Calibration Laboratories) accredited laboratory listed in the Tea Board, and all testing charges must be borne by seller and buyer members (50:50 ratio).
The Tea Board’s protocol would be communicated to all concerned stakeholders prior to taking the sample, and the test report would be considered final for making further decisions on the matter.
Furthermore, because the tea industry found it difficult to comply with low levels of MRLs for commonly used pesticides, the board submitted field study data on MRLs for five pesticides to the Central Insecticide Board and Registration Committee (CIBRC) for upward revision of the levels, with input from Tea Research Institutes (TRIs).
‘The upward revision will assist the industry in adhering to the standards in a more prudent manner,’ the official continued. Also Read | Average tea price set by Tea Board for small growers reduced drastically.
FSSAI has notified MRL of 34 pesticides as of today. Tea exports fell slightly in 2021, to 195.50 million kg, from 209.72 million kg in 2020. Tea exports nearly stayed the same last year, at Rs 5,246.89 crore, compared to Rs 5,235.29 crore in 2020.
The Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) bloc continued to be the largest importer of Indian tea. Iran quickly followed. Other major importers include the United States, the United Arab Emirates, the United Kingdom, and Germany.