STC Number - 207

Directives on residual pesticide tolerance and inspection methods for tea

Maintained by: European Union
Raised by: China
Supported by: India
First date raised: March 2005 G/SPS/R/36/Rev.1, paras. 22-24
Dates subsequently raised:
Number of times subsequently raised: 0
Relevant documents: Raised orally
Products covered: 09 Coffee, tea, mate and spices; 0902 Tea, whether or not flavoured.
Primary subject keyword: Food safety
Keywords: Control, Inspection and Approval Procedures; Food safety; Human health; International Standards / Harmonization
Status: Partially resolved
Date reported as resolved: 16/10/2013

Extracts from SPS Committee meeting summary reports

In March 2005, China recalled that in July 2001, the European Communities had issued a directive on residual pesticide tolerance and inspection methods for tea in which the EC maximum residue limits (MRLs) for seven types of pesticides were higher than those of the Codex standards. When previously discussing that issue bilaterally, China had unsuccessfully requested the scientific evidence and risk assessments justifying these MRLs. China requested that the European Communities apply its detection method for residues on diluted tea as opposed to dry tea leaves, in which pesticide levels were much higher.
India expressed concerns that tea was being singled out for rigid residual limits while other competing products consumed in larger quantities in European Communities were not affected.
The European Communities clarified that the current regulation on MRLs for pesticides was a combination of EC and member States MRLs. The European Communities was in the process of adopting a new regulation on MRLs for pesticides in all food and feedstuffs that would harmonize all EC member states' national legislation and would likely enter into force in mid 2006. The EC inspection methods for tea were based on the existing Codex methods. Regarding India's concern, the European Communities did not intend to discriminate against tea in relation with any other beverage.