BEIJING, April 24 Environmental advocacy group
Greenpeace said on Tuesday that an investigation it had
conducted found tea bags sold in China by Unilever's Lipton
brand contained unsafe levels of pesticide residue, though
Unilever said the product was safe and to standard.
Greenpeace said in a statement that in March it randomly
purchased several boxes of Lipton tea bags sold in two Beijing
stores and sent them to an independent laboratory for pesticide
"The testing found that all four Lipton samples contained
pesticides that exceeded the EU's maximum levels of residue,
while three samples contained pesticides unapproved by the EU,"
the group said.
"Some of the detected pesticides are also banned for use in
tea production by the Chinese Ministry of Agriculture."
Greenpeace named one of the pesticides it found as the
insecticide Bifenthrin, which is banned in the European Union.
Unilever said in a statement posted on its
official Chinese microblogging account ()
and confirmed by a company spokesman that all its Lipton tea
products were safe.
"As a responsible multinational company, Unilever China has
all along upheld high quality and the protection of consumers'
rights. All the Lipton tea products we make are completely in
line with national standards on pesticide residue, and are safe
and up-to-standard goods," the company wrote.
Last November, China's quality watchdog said one of
Unilever's Lipton tea varieties was found to contain unsafe
levels of toxins. Unilever said that all those related tea
products had been recalled and destroyed.
Lipton sells dozens of varieties of tea in China and is the
dominant seller of tea bags in a country where consumers
generally drink loose-leaf tea.
In recent months, several foreign firms have found
themselves ensnared by Chinese product safety or quality probes,
including U.S. retailer Wal-Mart Stores, McDonald's Corp
and European retail giant Carrefour.
China has struggled to rein in health violations in the
unruly and vast food sector despite harsh punishments and
repeated vows to deal with the problem.
The country is notorious for its food safety woes, with
regular news reports of fake cooking oil, tainted milk and even
watermelons that explode from absorbing too much fertiliser.
However, both the American Chamber of Commerce in China and
the European Union Chamber of Commerce in China have published
reports saying foreign firms are sometimes unfairly singled out