After years of dilly-dallying, the Food Safety and Standard Authority of India (FSSAI) has finally decided to fix the presence of 150 mg per kg as a prescribed limit for iron particles in tea powder.
The top food standard body has approved the draft standard prescribing a limit of not more than 150mg/kg of iron fillings in tea. Comments have been sought in this direction, said the FSSAI in its circular dated April 22.
It further directed the food enforcement officials in the State and Union Territories to implement the said limit in tea powder till the issuance of the final notification in this regard.
A senior official said that a notification is likely to come soon.
Sources said that the FSSAI’s final move came following a report from the National Institute of Nutrition (NIN), which also favoured the limit of 150mg/kg in tea powder. It had admitted that zero presence of iron fillings was not possible in tea.
While the tea lobby was keen that the prescribed limit be increased to about 500 mg/kg in tea as in many poor countries, many developed countries have fixed the maximum limit levelof 120 mg/kg for iron fillings in tea. Neighbouring Sri Lanka allows up to 200 mg of iron fillings per kg.
Due to wear and tear in the machinery, iron fillings enter tea dust during manufacturing process. Normally tea manufacturers use huge magnets to remove the iron particles but it is possible that very tiny particles of iron do not get attracted to the magnet and remain in the tea.
Over limit of iron particles are not healthy. According to health experts, “Iron does not easily go out of the body but accumulates and when the concentration of iron reaches a particular level, the body begins to react.
“Though iron is good for health, excess intake may lead to health complications ranging from loose motion to stomach ache, while severe health issues include cancers and cardiac problems. Men require just 8 mg of iron per day. It is 18 mg in case of women,” they added.