Excessive Pesticide Residues in Tea Products in Taiwan

Recently, media reported that pesticide residues with levels exceeding their regulatory standards were detected in a number of tea leaf / floral tea samples available in the Taiwan market. The Centre for Food Safety (CFS) has contacted the Taiwan authority for more information and has been closely monitoring the development of the incident.

Upon noticing the incident, the CFS has immediately enhanced its surveillance and contacted the relevant importers/vendors to investigate if the affected products have been imported into Hong Kong.

The CFS has collected tea leaf samples from an outlet relevant to one of the affected tea stores in Taiwan for testing of pesticides that have exceeded the Taiwan standards. All results were satisfactory. In addition, the CFS has inspected an outlet of another affected tea store and found that the affected product has been taken off the shelf. The CFS has collected other tea leaf/ floral tea samples from the store for testing of pesticide residues and all results were satisfactory. Moreover, the CFS has inspected other outlets relevant to three tea stores reported to be affected in Taiwan. Although the affected products were not available, the CFS has collected other tea leaf/ floral tea samples for testing of pesticide residues and all results were satisfactory.

Summary of the investigation related to the tea incident in Taiwan (updated as at 4 pm on 1 December 2021)

Since the incident in Taiwan is evolving, the investigation is ongoing. Members of the trade should stop selling any product that is suspected to be affected and inform the CFS immediately. Members of the public who have doubts in related products they have purchased should stop consumption and contact the concerned retailers. Consumers and traders are advised to refer to the latest announcement at this website.

At the same time, it is worth noting that eating food with pesticide residue exceeding the standard does not automatically imply a hazard to health provided the dietary exposure to that particular pesticide falls within the safety reference value. A distinction needs to be made here between standards and safety reference values. Even though the primary purpose of setting standards in food is to protect the health of consumers and the levels are intended to be toxicologically acceptable (i.e. unlikely to cause acute or chronic toxicities in humans), the standard is not an equivalent of and should not be taken as a safety reference value per se.

Publications and relevant information

List of affected tea products announced by Taiwan authority (Chinese only)