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Food Safety Focus (118th Issue, May 2016) – Food Incident Highlight

Follow-up on Perchlorate in Tea Leaves

In view of earlier media reports that Mainland-produced tea leaves available in Europe were found to contain perchlorate, the Centre for Food Safety (CFS) has collected 30 imported tea leaf samples for testing of perchlorate levels. All samples passed the tests (i.e. they did not exceed the action level of 0.75 mg/ kg dried leaves). This action level has been developed after taking reference from the "reference values for intra-Union trade" on dried tea used by European Commission.

In recent years there has been increasing interest in perchlorate in the environment and foods and what health effects they may have. Prolonged exposure to excessive amounts of perchlorate may lower thyroid activity. Risk assessment showed the perchlorate levels of tea leaves available in local market would not pose a health risk to consumers. Nevertheless, the CFS will remain vigilant and keep in view the future developments of the international food safety authorities to protect public health.