5 city oolong tea brands found with toxic content
(11.10.2011)

Five brands of oolong tea manufactured by Shanghai companies were found to contain excessive levels of potentially harmful rare-earth elements, China’s quality watchdog said yesterday.

The five were among 19 oolong products, including Lipton Tieguanyin, which were found to be below regulatory standards in a check on quality.

The check targeted 58 oolong products from seven provinces and regions — Shanghai, Beijing and the provinces of Jiangsu, Zhejiang, Anhui, Fujian and Guangdong, according to the General Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine.

The five brands from Shanghai were Mingfeng, Jiaranlu, Zhengxiangyuan, Cuiming and Shenxin. Under Chinese law, rare-earth content should be below 2 milligrams per kilogram, but all had higher levels. In addition, the Zhengxiangyuan tea was found to have poor flavor.

The inspection also found problems with a Tieguanyin variety of oolong produced for Unilever-owned Lipton. It also failed to meet the standards for rare-earth content, officials said.

The administration said rare earth can help to raise output and improve flavor, but overuse leaves residue in the product that can harm health, especially the bones.

The Shanghai Bureau of Quality and Technical Supervision remained silent yesterday. Last month it inspected some locally produced teas but found no rare-earth content or other problems. Two brands were found to have less net weight than stated on the package, according to inspectors.

Meanwhile, in another check targeting 114 milk powder products, four producers — Shaanxi Jin Niu Milk, Nongken Xuehua Milk, Baiyue Milk and Dingbian Dairy — were ordered to improve quality, but none was found to pose a risk to health, said the administration.