INDIA – In a pivotal step towards ensuring the safety and quality of tea production, the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI), has led an interactive session with tea growers and tea planters in Kellyden, Assam, India.

The session, attended by key stakeholders from FSSAI, the Tea Board, Tea Research Institute, industry associations, and State Food and Drug Department officials, focused on critical aspects of enhancing traceability and testing measures for tea raw materials.

The discussion revolved around stringent measures for screening every batch of tea for pesticide residues and ensuring compliance with Maximum Residue Limits (MRL) as per the Food Safety and Standards Regulations of 2011 (FSSR).

G Kamala Vardhana Rao, CEO, FSSAI, emphasized the adoption of bio-pesticides and advocated collaboration with the Tea Board for joint inspection, sampling, and testing processes to uphold safety standards.

The Tea Board underlined the importance of awareness campaigns among planters, stressing the maintenance of a harvesting gap to ensure safe agricultural practices. Planters expressed concerns about unauthorized pesticide use and urged the State Government to impose bans accordingly.

Processors called for the provision of rapid testing kits at the farm gate level to facilitate streamlined pesticide testing. Scientific Panel members engaged in detailed discussions on specific pesticides, monitoring procedures, and prevention of off-label use.

FSSAI announced financial assistance to Assam for upgrading pesticide testing laboratories, highlighting the commitment to bolstering testing infrastructure. The session emphasized the necessity for regular stakeholder interaction and the formulation of time-bound action plans to ensure the availability of safe tea to consumers.

The event featured notable speakers such as Amardeep Singh Bhatia, IAS, Additional Secretary of the Department of Commerce & Industry (DoC&I) and Chairman of the Tea Board, India, along with senior officials from FSSAI, scientific panel members, and industry representatives.

The collaborative efforts showcased a platform for knowledge exchange and promoted safe, sustainable, and quality-driven tea production nationwide.

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