Unilever’s Lipton Tea in China has unsafe levels of pesticide residue, according to a report by Greenpeace.The environmental advocacy group randomly bought boxes of Lipton from different Beijing stores and had them tested in an independent laboratory. The tests found all the samples “contained pesticides that exceeded the EU’s maximum levels of residue”, while most of them contained “pesticides unapproved by the EU,” the group said, including Bifenthrin, which could negatively affect male hormone production, Reuters reports.
Lipton joins a slew of Chinese tea brands that have also been accused by Greenpeace of having high amounts of illegal pesticides in their teas. Local brands like Tenfu Tea and Richun’s Tieguanyin 803 tea have been found to contain Methomyl and Endosulfan, which has been banned by the UN and the Chinese Ministry of Agriculture, according to The Diplomat. All the 18 brands tested by Greenpeace had at least three different kinds of pesticides.
While some of the local companies and Unilever have denied the allegations, this is not the first time tea has come under attack. Last fall, Unilever recalled a batch of Lipton’s “Iron Buddha” tea because it contained excessive levels of rare earths, FT reports.
China is the largest exporter of tea in the world and has around eight million tea growers, according to NTDTV. In 2010, the country exported 302,400 tons of tea valued at $784 million.
It is also the largest user of pesticides, with farmers around the country spraying 1.76 million tons of chemicals a year. The authorities have declared they aim to reduce nationwide pesticide use in 2015 by 20 per cent, People’s Daily reports.
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