Lipton tea

Last week we released a report revealing the extent of which banned pesticides are finding their way in Chinese brand teas. And today, the revelations keep on coming.

Lipton, the world's best-selling tea brand, is also selling tea in China with illegal pesticides.

In March 2012, Greenpeace randomly purchased several boxes of Lipton tea bags produced and sold in China at two Beijing stores. The samples, which included green tea, oolong tea, jasmine tea and black tea, were then sent to an independent third-party lab for pesticide residue testing.

Our second report details three of the four samples contained pesticides that are banned for use on tea plants and are highly toxic. Altogether 17 diferent kinds of pesticides were found on the four samples.

"As the world's best-selling tea brand, Lipton is taking advantage of China's loose pesticide control measures at the expense of its Chinese customers," says Wang Jing, Greenpeace Food and Agriculture Campaigner.

Busted! Lipton's claims of corporate responsibility prove false

Lipton's holding company is Unilever - one of those mega-conglomerate multinational consumer goods companies. Last year they reported a whopping €46.5 billion in turnover. Their very size equates to a responsibility to consumers and the environment, as well as the power to be game-changers in their industry.

In Unilever's last Corporate Responsibility Report they describe Lipton as their, "first foreign enterprise to enter China; it has a long-term commitment to China, and it hopes to establish a sustainable business model in the country."

While on its official Chinese website, Lipton claims that it only uses insecticides that have received formal state approval for use, and it pledges to only use "the minimum amount of chemicals to achieve the required effect."

As our testing shows, this is clearly not the case. Not that this is the first time Lipton have proven indifferent to the health and safety of the Chinese consumer. Last year excessive residues of heavy metal were found in Lipton tea.

Why should you be concerned?

Let's take a look at the three banned pesticides that were found in these tea samples:

Methomyl:

  • An insecticide, potentially damaging to the human nervous system. 
  • Banned for use on tea plants under China's Ministry of Agriculture (MoA) – Notice 1586. 
  • Classified by the World Health Organization (WHO) as a highly toxic pesticide.

Dicofol:

  • A pesticide, chemically related to DDT.
  • Banned for use on tea plants under China's MoA – Notice 199.
  • Classified by the EU, not only as harmful when swallowed, but also when in contact with skin.

Endosulfan:

  • A persistent pesticide, potential endocrine disruptor.
  • Banned for use on tea plants under China's MoA – Notice 1586.
  • Banned globally under the Stockholm Convention.

Take action

For now the most important thing you can do is read out report and then spread the word.

1. Post this page on Facebook and leave comments on Lipton's Facebook page.

2. Tweet away! Use the hashtag #LiptonPesticides

3. E-mail this page to your friends using the share tool on the left-hand side of the page.

4. Buy certified organic tea and you'll not only been drinking healthy, you'll be supporting the reduction of pesticides in agriculture.

You can also stay informed about this issue as it develops. Sign up to our e-mail action alerts, or friend us on Facebook or Twitter