Through a notification dated 22 August 2019 the FSSAI has given directives about prosecution for non-conformation in limits of iron filings in tea.
On 19 May 2016 and subsequently on 2 November 2019 the FSSAI had issued orders with directions stating that since no reliable method of assessing/testing of samples of iron filings in tea was available so the Enforcement Authorities should inspect tea factories rather than retailers. This order was to be complied with till such time as the assessment and testing methods were finalized. The inspection of tea factories would ensure that FBOs involved in processing/ manufacturing tea would operate with the requisite equipment for the removal of ironfilings from tea.
The Method of Analysis for iron filings in the tea is still under consideration of the appropriate authorities. This is likely to take some more time so the FSSAI has issued fresh directives to Commissioners of Food Safety of all States/ UTs. They are not to launch any prosecutions for non-conformance of the limits of ironfilings in any such cases, irrespective of the date of sampling.
Limits of iron filings in tea have been fixed and standards set through a Gazette notification dated December, 2016. In the Food Safety and Standards (Food Products Standards and Food Additives) Regulations, 2011, under the category tea in the Regulation 2.10, which pertains to beverages (otherthan dairy and fruit- and vegetable-based), the standards for the limit of ironfilings in tea was fixed at 250mg/kg. Even though the limit for iron filings has been fixed by FSSAI but since no appropriate method of analysis has been fixed for identifying and determining the number of ironfilings in tea yet, so FSSAI has asked the enforcement officials not to prosecute any FBOs for non-compliance.