Colombo: An independent international laboratory has found unusually high chemical residues in Sri Lankan tea. The tests were commissioned by the Sri Lanka Tea Board after it had “mentions” from various importers in Europe and Japan of chemical residues above acceptable levels, authoritative sources said.
Most Sri Lankan tea exports are blends of produce from several factories. This made it difficult to identify the source of the problem even when a complaint was received from an importing country. However, over the past few months, the Sri Lankan authorities identified estates that were repeatedly mentioned and conducted checks.
The sources were reluctant to say how many factories were inspected and how many were found to be sources of contaminated tea. But they revealed that “tea from various factories were found to have excessive residues”. The challenge now is to identify the reasons for contamination and to correct the problem. A meeting which was called will address these issues. “There has to be an reassurance to buyers of our tea that we will take the initiative to make sure our tea is clean,” a source said.
“It is our responsibility to do that and we intend to do it,” they added. “Exactly how to go about it we will know after the meeting.” It is feared that some quantity of existing stocks will have to be condemned. It is not immediately clear how much. The tests were done and the report produced by an Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) Good Laboratory Practices certified lab.