Hyderabad: Retailers have been found selling loose tea mixed with coal tar dye in the city markets. This adulteration has been confirmed by food inspectors after several recent raids. They found that tea powder, which is sold in bulk, was 'adulterated.'
“Some retailers sell harmful tea powder in which tons of coal tar dye is used. With the addition of this colouring, one can make 15-16 cups from the quantity that normally is enough to make four to five cups,” said Kasturi Niharika, a food inspector.
Food inspectors said that in several instances, tea manufacturers’ purchase used tea powder from big restaurants and coal tar dye. Hardly any of the powder that they produce is from tea leaves. The adulterated tea powder is either purchased by grocery shops or directly by customers at a lesser price, said Niharika.
Retailers hardly keep their shops open, and supply only an order basis to avoid food inspectors. “These retailers take the prior orders for tea powder and then open their shops rarely and quickly shut down once the tea powder is sold,” added Niharika.
These practices violate Prevention of Food Adulteration Act, 1954.
The cost of a good quality branded tea powder is over Rs 500 per kg. However, these retailers sell the adulterated tea powder at Rs 150-180 per kg. Tea Board, India, is strictly against use of colouring substances in tea, which, if violated, attracts legal action.
According to Niharika, if tea powder mixed with coal tar dye or other harmful substances is tested, then the colour of the filter paper changes immediately....