Nan­tou farm­ers de­fend their teas amid al­le­ga­tions

The China Post - - LOCAL -

Tea farm­ers from Nan­tou yes­ter­day vouched for the safety of their prod­ucts af­ter an on­go­ing probe into tainted tea drinks traced the ori­gin of the ma­te­ri­als to the cen­tral re­gion.

The prob­lem­atic tea leaves that the bev­er­age chain store 50 Lan used may have come from a sup­plier in Nan­tou, but that does not mean that the tea leaves must have orig­i­nated from the area, the farm­ers claimed dur­ing a press con­fer­ence held in Taipei.

Hsieh Ming-ching, head of a tea farm­ers as­so­ci­a­tion in Nan­tou, said the tea farm­ers and their pes­ti­cide sup­pli­ers in the area work closely to im­pose strict con­trol on the use of chem­i­cals.

But the lat­est food scare has al­ready dealt a heavy blow to the Nan­tou tea farm­ers, he said, urg- ing the gen­eral public to not jump to con­clu­sions.

Hsieh main­tained that the tea grown in Tai­wan is “very safe.”

Liu Fang-ming, an of­fi­cial with the Food and Drug Ad­min­is­tra­tion, said the 50 Lan tea leaves came from Tainan-based Sanch­ing Tea Man­u­fac­turer, which in turn came from a sup­plier in Nan­tou.

Liu said it re­mains un­cer­tain whether the prob­lem­atic tea leaves were grown in Nan­tou or im­ported from other coun­tries.

Lin Li-fan, deputy head of the Agri­cul­ture and Food Agency, said her agency and the lo­cal gov­ern­ment have jointly made plans to test the chem­i­cal lev­els of the teas from all the farms and ven­dors in Nan­tou.

It will take two weeks to get the re­sults of the tests, which will be an­nounced a week af­ter that, Lin said.

Leg­is­la­tor Tsai Huang-lang, who helped the Nan­tou tea farm­ers ar­range the press con­fer­ence, said he has strong faith in the farm­ers. He sur­mised that 50 Lan’s up­stream sup­plier prob­a­bly im­ported low­grade teas and mixed them with lo­cally grown ones.

A 68,000- kilo­gram batch of tea leaves has been con­fis­cated from Sanch­ing af­ter its prod­ucts were found to con­tain ex­ces­sive chem­i­cals.

Tea has a large mar­ket in Tai­wan, but lo­cally grown tea leaves amount to only 15,000 tons a year, far short of the an­nual de­mand for 45,000 tons, ac­cord­ing to Chen Yau-jen, a for­mer chief at a gov­ern­ment-run tea lab.

Im­ports have been re­lied on to meet the de­mand, and the ma­jor­ity of the im­ports are low-grade ones from Viet­nam. Th­ese im­ported tea leaves usu­ally end up be­ing used by bev­er­age stores in their tea drinks.

Mean­while, an­other bev­er­age chain store, Coco Tea, has also been named in the tainted tea scare.

The Hs­inchu County Gov­ern­ment in­spected 25 of its out­lets in the area, say­ing Coco had al­ready re­moved all prob­lem­atic tea leaves, to­tal­ing 122.7kg.

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