The FSSAI directive stated, “The draft regulations were reviewed by the scientific panel taking into consideration the comments and suggestions received from various stakeholders, and the revised limit of iron filings in tea upto a level of 250mg/kg has been approved by the scientific committee.”
The draft stated that these standards would supersede the earlier limit which was operationalised on April 22, 2016. It added that these regulations would be called the Food Safety and Standards (Food Product Standards and Food Additives) Regulations, 2011 and in Regulation 2.10 in Sub-regulation 2.10.1:
(a) in clause 1, after item (f), the following item shall be inserted, namely, “(g) Iron filings (mg/kg): Not more than 250.”
(b) in clause 2, after item (f), the following item shall be inserted, namely, “(g) Iron filings (mg/kg): Not more than 250.”
Nainmal Jain, Mastani Tea, “We had filled our recommendations to the FSSAI for revised limit of iron filings which earlier were 150mg/kg of tea. The presence of iron filings in tea is very common due to wear and tear of the machinery components. The revised limit of 250mg of iron filing in one kilogram of tea is still achievable through advance techniques but the processing units that have old apparatus will have to upgrade to achieve the revised limit.”
A senior official from the Food and Drugs Administration (FDA), Assam, said, “The maximum limit of the presence of iron filing is revised and approved by the scientific panel of the FSSAI. The enforcement activities to inspect tea sold in retail outlets is temporarily stopped as the method of analysis is yet to be finalised by the National Institute of Nutrition (NIN), Hyderabad.”
As far as the enforcement activities are concerned, the state authorities confirmed that the enforcements will only be carried out at the tea processing unit level and will be checked for apparatus for the detecting metallic contaminants in tea.
Earlier, FSSAI conducted a laboratory analysis on tea to determine the iron filing in tea. Further, the tests noted that there were wide variations in the results due to various reasons. Hence, FSSAI held that till the method for assessment was finalised, it would not be appropriate to rely on test results for iron filings in tea.