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Guwahati: The 111-year-old Tea Research Association (TRA), which looks after the research and development needs of 75% of the Indian tea production, is reworking integrated pest-management protocols to ensure that association members meet all aspects of FSSAI regulations. 

The statement follows comments in the press on the non-compliance of maximum residue levels (MRLs) in teas by some segments of the tea trade.

The Tea Board India had recently told tea sellers that teas which do not conform to the FSSAI regulations would not be sold in the auctions.

The Controller of Licensing in Tea Board Rajanigandha Seal Naskar in a circular to all tea producers associations said the board has got a letter in May from the Chairman of the Federation of All India Tea Traders Associations (FAITTA) regarding the failure of teas purchased through auctions under the Food Safety and Standards Act and Regulations.

FAITTA has informed that they had engaged M/S Eurofins Analytical Services India Limited to test the teas purchased through auction sales by various buyers, and these the teas that failed the FSSAI tea tasting parameters and the same is not fit for human consumption.

The TRA said it is engaging with the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare and the Ministry of Agriculture Government of India to bring in more compounds with the MRL for the tea industry.

The association said it may be noted that samples which failed in certain labs have passed in labs which have international recognition in global proficiency tests. The noncompliance of some teas is mainly due to MRL detection levels set for certain compounds, which the FSSAI have already revised upwards and notified through a draft notification on August 20, 2020.

The FSSAI has received comments from the public on the draft notification and will notify the same shortly.

“However, it is disturbing to note that some teas which are shown as non-compliant are mainly due to erroneous reporting of MRL values by certain labs. Two compounds such as Zineb and Mancozeb which belong to the dithiocarbamate group of fungicides approved by FSSAI and Plant Protection Code of Tea Board of India are tested for MRL values using the CS2 content of the sample,” it said.

“All dithiocarbamate groups of fungicides measured by CS2 value should be in a group under dithiocarbamate and their MRL values should be reported in a group accordingly. The grouping is done in all test reports done for EU countries. Moreover, it is difficult to find out the exact source of CS2 in the sample and only by using a robust blockchain and traceability system, the exact source of CS2 can be found,” it said.

The association said this kind of reporting is misleading and causing confusion in the tea industry thereby, greatly affecting tea prices in the peak quality season of the second flush.

Also read: Flaws in Guwahati Building Byelaws need correction: Tribunal

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