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CONSUMERS

Tea bags sold in France found to contain ‘up to 17 types of pesticides’

Tea bags sold in France have been found to contain up to 17 kinds of pesticide, as well as potentially harmful metals and toxins, according to a new survey. But should tea and tisane drinkers be worried?

Tea bags sold in France found to contain 'up to 17 types of pesticides'
Photo: The Local
Nearly two thirds of French people drink tea on a regular basis and much of the tea consumed is the highly popular herbal tisane variety seen everywhere in France. 
 
So the news that tea bags sold in France could contain up to 17 varieties of pesticide is sure to come as a worry to many.
 
The survey by French consumer magazine 60 Millions de consommateurs (60 Million Consumers) looked at 26 brands of tea, including major names like Liptons, Kusmi Tea and Auchan. 
 
And results showed that most bags, including black, green and organic teas, contained traces of pesticides, with some including up to as many as 17 different kinds. 
 
Out of the 26 brands, nine contained “barely quantifiable traces” of pesticides, said author of the article Patricia Chairopoulos, a journalist with 60 million consumers. 
 
Photo: AFP
 
Four brands, however, were labelled as having “very inadequate” results meaning that they contain traces of pesticides exceeding the regulatory limits, or display a significant number of pesticide residues, explains the journalist. 
 
Among those was black tea by Dammann Frères which had traces of up to 17 different types of pesticides.
 
The survey also found that Bio Village tea contained “nearly four times the authorized limit” of a pesticide called anthraquinone.
 
The two types of pesticides which came up the most often were folpet, a fungicide, and anthraquinone, a bird repellent, Chairopoulos told franceinfo.
 
But while it may sound alarming, Benjamin Douriez editor of 60 Millions de consommateurs put the matter in perspective.
 
“These are small amounts of pesticides, which are mostly below the authorized limits,” he told Europe 1.  
 
But why are they there at all?
 
Apparently, if tea isn't sorted properly weeds which have been coated in carcinogenic pesticides can end up being mixed in with the leaves, said Chairopoulos.
 
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Banned substances found in over 140 cosmetic products sold in France

Photo: AFP 

Arsenic and mercury 
 
In addition to the pesticides, all the teas surveyed contained metal residues, the magazine said. These include arsenic, cadmium and mercury.
 
But this too shouldn't put you off your afternoon tea, according to the magazine. 
 
“They (metals) are not considered dangerous,” tempers Patricia Chairopoulos. “They are more like markers of pollution, these metals come from the soil, water,” explains the journalist. 
 
Natural toxins
 
Some of the teas tested were also found to contain something called “pyrrolizidine alkaloids”, toxins that plants produce naturally.
 
Many of these toxins are “recognized carcinogens”, the magazine warns. However, there is no regulation over them in France or Europe.
 
“The problem we are highlighting is that there is no regulatory framework for these alkaloids, that is to say that there is no limit to the amount that can be contained in a product.”
 
And what can consumers do about it?
 
Doctors say that in order to avoid consuming any chemicals in too large a quantity, people should regularly change the brand of tea they drink. 

SHOPPING

France crowns its favourite store (but have you heard of it?)

The French have selected their favourite store and it's a supermarket that many readers might not have heard of, but our readers have voted it the best in France.

France crowns its favourite store (but have you heard of it?)
Photo: AFP
France's 2018 store of choice is a supermarket known for selling regional products sold by local, independent businesses, in a market setting. 
 
This year, the title of France's favourite store went to Grand Frais, a French supermarket with 216 stores around the country, as it dethroned sporting goods retailer Decathlon in the annual ranking by consultancy firm OC&C. 
 
Decathlon dropped to second place followed by cultural goods shop Cultura, frozen foods store Picard and Fnac, a French retail chain selling cultural and electronic products, making up the top five spots. 
 
Another supermarket that made the top ten was Leclerc which came 8th while Swedish furniture giant Ikea came tenth. 
 
And, according to OC&C, this year's survey highlights an interesting consumer trend. 
 
READ ALSO:

Readers' tips: Which supermarket in France is the best to shop at?

“The e-commerce platforms are losing ground to more traditional brands, which have often…improved their value for money,” David de Matteis, Managing Partner at OC&C Strategy told Le Figaro
 
Trust and closeness between the brand and the customer seems to have taken an important place in the 2018 ranking, he added.
 
This trend aligns with the Grand Frais strategy which spotlights local producers in a more traditional market setting. And it isn't only the French who have fallen for its charms. 
 
In fact, in a recent readers' tips feature by The Local, Grand Frais was selected as the best supermarket in France
 
Photo: Lionel Allorge/Wikicommons
 
Sarah Ashley who runs the Cooking in France Together group on Facebook said her favourite supermarket in France was “Grand Frais by a mile. It's a shame there aren't more of them.
 
“[It has] the freshest fruit and veg, more exotic choices and friendly, helpful staff. I love how they sell things you just don't get in other supermarkets, like beautiful chilies, almonds still in their green skin and veggies so exotic I have never heard of them before. It is always well stocked and sparkling clean.”
 
Another fan of Grand Frais, Jiouxleigh Kos also highlighted the wide selection available there. 
 
“Grand Frais has the best selection of fresh and more exotic food,” she said.
 
 
 
However, due to the fact that there are relatively few branches of Grand Frais, some of those who chose it as their favourite supermarket in France also pointed out that it was often somewhere they went as a treat or “to find something out of the ordinary”. 
 
With just 216 Grand Frais supermarkets in France (and one in Belgium), there's some luck involved in whether there's one conveniently located near where you live (see map above). 
 
For those living in Paris, there is no Grand Frais in the French capital however there is one in Fresnes in the southern suburbs.

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