Resist the temptation to reach out for Lipton Tieguanyin the next time you see it along supermarket aisles.
China’s quality watchdog, the General Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine, says that 19 products, including Lipton Tieguanyin (pictured on the right) have been found to contain excessive levels of potentially harmful rare-earth minerals in a random check of 58 oolong products from Shanghai, Beijing, Jiangsu, Zhejiang, Anhui, Fujian and Guangdong. Five of these brands are manufactured by Shanghai-based companies and they are: Mingfeng, Jiaranlu, Zhengxiangyuan, Cuiming and Shenxin.
The offending labels all exceeded the maximum 2 milligrams per kilogram limit for rare-earth mineral content stipulated under Chinese law. Rare earth is said to help raise output and improve the flavour of the tea, but excessive use can be harmful to health, especially to the bones, said the watchdog.
Now here’s the real kicker, if you’re ready for it:
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.