Health Canada’s Response
Despite the alarming results revealed by the investigation, Health Canada insists that these pesticides aren’t a public health concern.
“Health Canada reviewed the information provided by Marketplace and for the pesticides bifenthrin, imidacloprid, acetamiprid, chlorfenapyr, pyridaben, acephate, dicofol and monocrotophos determined that consumption of tea containing the residues listed does not pose a health risk based on the level of residues reported, expected frequency of exposure and contribution to overall diet. Moreover, a person would have to consume approximately 75 cups of tea per day over their entire lifetime to elicit an adverse health effect,” a spokesperson wrote to the CBC in a statement.
But not everyone agrees :”This is very worrisome from a number of perspectives,” environmental lawyer David Boyd told CBC.
“I think that’s a complete abdication of CFIA’s responsibility to protect Canadian people. The reality is that there is emerging science about the impacts of pesticides at very low concentrations,” he says.
“The whole point of pesticides is that they’re chemically and biologically active in parts per million or parts per billion…Pesticides can have adverse effects at what are seemingly very small concentrations.”
Choosing Pesticide Free Tea
The simplest way to avoid sipping on pesticides in tea (or other unwanted substances) along with your tea is by choosing loose-leaf unflavored organic products.
“Natural” or “herbal” teas that are not certified organic won’t be any better than the teas tested above, so make sure to read the labels carefully. Flavored teas will likely contain unwanted additives like soy lecithin and natural or artificial flavors.
It’s also worth noting that tea bags can be made of plastic fibers that leak hormone-disrupting toxins into your cup (7).