Gardens told to abide by safety norms - Erring planters warned

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  • Published 30.11.12

Guwahati/Silchar Nov. 29: The Tea Board of India today said from February 1 next year no teas can either be exported from or imported into India, without conforming to the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) parameters and teas would be subjected to random testing.

The statement issued today comes in the backdrop of various quality issues that have cropped up in recent years.

The Tea Board of India has established a Tea Council for north India and one for south India, under its direction, to put in place an online mandatory mechanism to track all exports and imports of tea and ensure that quality norms are enforced.

The mechanism will be hassle free and paperless.

“We want to ensure that only tea worthy of the tagline ‘Indian tea’ is exported,” the board said in a statement.

Speaking to The Telegraph after addressing an awareness workshop for Cachar tea planters at a leading hotel in Silchar yesterday afternoon, Anirban Basu Mazumdar, a senior research official of the Tea Board, made it clear that his organisation would not hesitate to impose penalties on the gardens which would flout food safety regulations.

He said the penalties for the non-compliant tea estates would range between Rs 50,000 and Rs 10 lakh.

The awareness workshop was organised by the board in association with the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII).

Apart from Basu Mazumdar, the other specialist speaker was Pratyasha Chakra-borty, a counsellor of the CII.

R. Kujur, assistant director of the Tea Board’s regional office here, inaugurated the programme and set rolling discussions on safety regulations in tea manufacturing.

The tea planters in the Cachar region, comprising 104 tea plantations in the three tea-growing districts of Cachar, Karimganj and Hailakandi, were told by the two experts on the Food Safety and Standards Act, 2011, and its manifold regulations implemented consequently by the Union health and family welfare ministry to ensure that the tea is processed in such a way that it should always be free of substances that cause health hazards.

The board identified such substances as iron fillings, artificial colours, artificial flavours and dust particles.

Senior board officials said these outside materials pose health hazards and asked tea planters in the Cachar region to “scrupulously” maintain good hygienic practices and proper manufactu-ring devices in the management of food and beverage operations.

A total of 75 senior tea planters, representatives of the bought leaf factories and the tea traders took part in this first exercise in south Assam on the FSSA.