To Prevent Adulteration of ‘Darjeeling Tea’ from Nepal, FSSAI Clearance Now Mandatory: Tea Board
A worker carries tree leaves for his cattle inside a teagarden during the second day of an indefinite strike at Sukna village near the eastern Indian hill town of Darjeeling July 14, 2009. REUTERS/Rupak De Chowdhuri (INDIA POLITICS CONFLICT TRAVEL BUSINESS) - GM1E57E1LN301
Tea Board of India issued directives to all the registered tea buyers and licensed distributors that they would require a clearance from the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) before the tea sale is allowed in Indian markets. The decision was made after incidents of free dumping of tea from neighbouring countries like Nepal were sold as ‘Darjeeling Tea’ for domestic consumption.
The Tea Board officials feel that the new directive will help them safeguard against health risks posed by chemical-laden tea coming from neighbouring countries.
The issue was first raised by BJP MP from Darjeeling, Raju Bista who demanded the Union Minister of Commerce, Piyush Goyal’s intervention into the matter.
“Recently, I informed Piyush Goyal and suggested that any imports of tea from other countries should be required to get due clearance from Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) before being allowed entry into Indian markets. I am happy to inform that the Tea Board of India has issued directives to all the registered buyers and licensed distributors for compliance of provisions of the Food Safety Standard (Packaging & Labelling) Regulations, 2011. This would ensure that Indian tea packers using imported teas have to declare the tea as being 'imported' in their packets,” Bista said.
“The earlier practice has caused widespread losses for our tea Industry, and harms brand Darjeeling which is considered to be the Champagne among Teas, across the world,” he added.
In a letter dated September 10 to Bista from Union Minister Piyush Goyal, it mentioned that "the matter has been examined in consultation with the Tea Board.” All tea imported from Nepal should get due clearance from FSSAI before being allowed entry to Indian markets, the letter added.
North Bengal has nearly 287 tea estates but nearly 78 tea estates in the hills which have been accorded the status for its produce, as Darjeeling Tea by the Tea Board of India.
These estates cover over 17,500 hectares producing over 9 million kg of tea engaging about 50 percent people of the district. Unfortunately, this year the tea industries have failed to pick the first flush due to the Covid-19 triggered lockdown.