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Tea Board India has told tea sellers that teas which do not conform to the FSSAI regulations will 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 this month 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 teas are found to be failed through FSSAI tea tasting parameters and the same is not fit for human consumption.

FAITTA, in its letter to Tea Board, said any teas in respect to the samples that do not pass the test should be declared unsafe, should not be resold and must be destroyed following the provisions of the law.

It said its member buyers have sufficient data on samples tested from their previous auction purchase, which reveal significant failure rates against some FSSAI parameters – mainly those relating to chemical Maximum Residue Limits( MRLs). “These tests are revealing failure rates ranging between 15 per cent to 40 per cent, which clearly cannot be used in blends, packaged or retailed,” it said.

It said the responsibility of producing FSSAI compliant teas rests with the tea estates/ factories. FSSAI parameters cannot be altered or improved at the buying/ blending/ packaging end. Therefore the onus of testing and bearing the costs of the same should vest with the producer.

“All seller members are advised to ensure compliance level following FSSAI regulations before selling teas through auction,” the Tea Board circular said.

The Board has written letters to the broker’s fraternity for obtaining their views/ inputs on the matter of destruction of the failed teas as proposed by FAITTA. “Please note that no teas should be out from the warehouse which has failed in FSSAI test parameters until the receipt of the views of brokers association and further direction of Tea Board in the matter,” the circular says.

The Guwahati Tea Auction Centre has written to sellers that Tea Board officials along with FSSAI officials had started conducting inspections at its registered warehouses and drawing samples from random lots. The samples that have been drawn were sent to the FSSAI notified NABL accredited food testing laboratories for testing and ascertaining the quality of the teas.

“As per information received, it is found that after testing was conducted in the laboratory, quite a few samples failed to comply with the standard parameters for tea under Food Safety Standard Regulations, 2011. Given the above, we reiterate all sellers members to kindly adhere to the “Food Safety and Standards( Contaminants, Toxins and Residue) Regulations, 2011, in regulation 2.3 and sub-regulation 2.3.1 published in the Gazette of India dated December 24, 2018, and make safe and quality tea for consumers,” the GTAC secretary said in the letter.

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