Studies released by the (CFIA) this week show dry teas to be free of unsafe levels of pesticide residues and heavy metals such as mercury.
Extensive tests are conducted periodically to determine the safety of food products. Pesticide residues were recently found in many domestic retail-shelf samples of teas manufactured in China a discovery that raised concerns about exports.
The initial Canadian studies were performed on 100 dried tea samples in 2009-2010. Tests for more than 340 different pesticide residues were conducted. Traces of pesticides were detected in 69 percent of the sample and trace levels of mercury in 32 percent of the samples, but amounts were quite small and not deemed harmful.
The CFIA conducted a follow-up study in 2010-2011 to further assess mercury levels in 193 dried tea samples. The low average level of mercury detected was consistent with CFIA’s 2009-2010 study, and therefore was considered safe for consumers. Studies by Health Canada indicate that the relatively low consumption of tea and other beverages would contribute very little to a person’s total mercury dietary intake.
Although no health concerns were raised by the results in these two studies, the CFIA conducted a third study on tea in 2011-2012, and another is currently ongoing this year to verify that products remain safe. Once the data has been fully analyzed the results will be published on the CFIA website.