Tea plantations in producing countries are colliding with European Union import regulations limiting anthraquinone, a chemical associated with packaging.
A new maximum reside level (MRL) of 0.01 mg has caused a lot of confusion in the tea industry because testing equipment is not readily available and tests are expensive.
Trace amounts are generally attributed to the addition of this compound to bleach pulp during paper production and in many dyes. It is also used as an insecticide and may be a by product of tea processing, said Indonesia Tea Board chair Rachmat Badruddin.“There is no certainty of the cause of it,” he said.
The European Food Safety Authority lowered the MRL threshold following animal tests that show it could possibly be dangerous.
“Meanwhile, exporters and importers hesitate to sell and buy product,” said board vice chair Farid Akbany: “Nobody is suggesting that European authorities allow their people to consume harmful drinks, but perhaps it is time to harmonize certification and re-examine and simplify health requirements without endangering the population.”