Popular natural and organic tea companies violate pesticide laws

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tea-cup(NaturalHealth365) While the tea beverage fascination may have started with America’s southern sweet tea, the popularity of organic and natural teas has skyrocketed over the last decade.

Green tea is now the drink of choice (only after water) as people around the world enjoy its refreshing flavor as well as its antioxidant and medicinal benefits. In addition, consumers are realizing how each herbal tea has its own perks that may benefit them in so many ways.

But, which teas are actually beneficial? Many brands stamp “organic” or “natural” on their tea packages. However, new investigations disclose some very disturbing news. What many consumers might not realize is that their favorite teas may be full of carcinogenic pesticides. Let’s take a look at some of these brands.

More than 90% of Celestial Seasonings teas violate United States pesticide laws

Hain Celestial Group, Inc. is one of the most well-known brands of tea but may be masquerading as a healthy organic company. The chief executive officer of this $3 billion food brand, Irwin Simon, told CNBC:

“Everything we do today is basically natural or organic.”

However, an independent study by Glaucus Research Group presents strong evidence that Celestial Seasonings is anything but natural and healthy. Their investigations proved that 91 percent their teas violated United States pesticide standards (CFR Title 40 Section 180) and contained traces of known or possible human carcinogens.

Several of Celestial Seasonings teas also violate California Proposition 65 for which there is no safe harbor limit. For instance, a Sleepytime Kids Goodnight Grape Herbal Tea sample contained the highest amount (0.26 ppm) of a known carcinogen called “propachlor.” Several other tea samples – including all teas from the “wellness” category – contained traces of propargite which is a known carcinogen and developmental toxin.

Hain Celestial Group, Inc. admits to having received warnings letters from the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA). They claim that the letters had nothing to do with quality control. However, the warning letters revealed that the company failed to meet several quality control requirements.

100% of Starbucks Teavana teas contain pesticides exceeding regulatory limits

On December 31, 2012, Starbucks acquired Teavana for $620 million to globally transform the $40 billion tea industry. Featuring full and loose leaf teas as well as botanicals, Teavana claims that consumers are able to experience tea in a unique way with more than 100 different types of fresh organic tea.

One reason why Teavana is so popular is because the brand was built on the perception that their products are organic and free of pesticides. Teavana does state this in their SEC filings under the quality control section:

“… our teas undergo rigorous testing based on food safety specifications established by the European Union regulations for the presence of pesticides.”

Unfortunately, an independent study reported evidence that none of their teas are actually certified organic (except for one). More than that, all of Teavana’s tea samples contained pesticides in shocking amounts that exceed the regulatory limits of both the United States and European Union. One of their most popular teas – Monkey Picked Oolong – was the most contaminated as it tested positive for 23 pesticides.

Consumers do NOT want pesticides in their tea

In fact, the study found 100 percent of Teavana tea samples contaminated with pesticides which are classified as possible human carcinogens by the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and violates the United States food pesticide standards (CFR Title 40 Section 180).

Further, 77 percent of the tea samples failed the European Union pesticide import standards (EC 396/2005) for dry teas. In other words, the failed samples would be banned from sale within the European Union.

Even more than the pesticides found in Teavana teas is the finding of “banned” pesticides. Sixty-two percent of teas tested revealed traces of a pesticide called “endosulfan” which has been banned by the United States, the European Union, and 144 other countries. Endosulfan may impair fertility, harm unborn babies, and damage agriculture workers.

Choose verified organic herbal teas to avoid pesticides. To avoid pesticides in your tea, don’t trust “natural” or “organic” labels on tea product packages. Be sure that your choice of tea is made from young fresh leaves and certified organic with the “USDA organic” or the “EU organic” logo.

About the author: Abby Campbell is a medical, health, and nutrition research writer. She’s dedicated to helping people live a healthy lifestyle in all aspects – physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually. Abby practices, writes, and coaches on natural preventive care, nutritional medicine, and complementary and alternative therapy.



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  • BChristine

    As an avid tea drinker, I have not bought these brands in years. Organic India and Numi are two trusted brands that I’ve been buying. It’s a damn shame the brands listed in the article can be so deceptive; touting being so healthy and wholesome when in fact they are toxic.

  • wc

    To add insult to injury most teas grown in China or India have very high levels of fluoride in them, so it’s important to choose not only organic but also grown in areas where ground waters don’t have much fluoride, since it’s not regulated in the organic standards.

    • Lee

      WC (or anyone!), might you recommend organic brands which are grown in areas where ground waters don’t have as much natural fluoride?

    • Cindy

      All teas have high levels of fluoride, not just China and India. Tea plants naturally absorb fluoride from the soil, making them super high in fluoride.

  • Lee

    Similarly, brands can initially deserve their loyal following, but then over time, the quality is silently compromised. Label reading matters no matter how many times the brand has been purchased…because ingredients can change. (Just got burned recently with my liquid stevia. For years, it was fine. Then the brand added maltodextrin, but it took me 1.5 years of using the new formulation to realize this!)

  • AutismDad

    Watched a documentary that tested tea for pesticides. ONLY RED ROSE orange peko tea was pesticide free.