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Green tea containing agrichemical recalled+.

TOKYO, April 19 Kyodo

A green tea retailer in Chigasaki, Kanagawa Prefecture has begun recalling its organic tea products after a test by a consumer group found traces of an agricultural chemical in a sample, group officials said Thursday.

The test, conducted March 12 by the Tokyo-based Japan Offspring Fund, detected 0.17 ppm of benomyl, a type of pesticide, in a product bearing a Japanese Agricultural Standard (JAS) organic stamp. The product was shipped in December by Hishiwaen in Yokohama, the officials said.

Since the JAS law was revised on April 1, only products guaranteed by a third party to contain no agricultural chemicals or chemical fertilizers are entitled to bear the organic JAS stamp.

The Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries Ministry launched an investigation into Hishiwaen after being tipped off by the consumer group. The company subsequently began recalling about 8,000 100-gram packages of green tea that could contain the chemical.

Ministry officials said the products are not harmful if consumed because the amount of benomyl detected is far below the limit of 5 ppm set by the government.

The Japan Organic & Natural Foods Association in Tokyo that certified the products as organic has sent representatives to tea farms and wholesalers who supplied the company, but no traces of the pesticide were found, according to the association.

The JAS law stipulates the designated products will be no longer be allowed to carry the organic mark if manufacturers or processors of the products are found to have covertly used agricultural chemicals on the products or to have mixed their products with nonorganic products. Such acts are also subject to punishment.

However, while there remains a possibility that the airborne chemical came from a nearby farm and contaminated Hishiwaen's supply, the ministry is carefully checking the retailer's products.
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Publication:Japan Weekly Monitor
Date:Apr 23, 2001
Words:298
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