Tuesday, August 15, 2006

And I thought tea was a safe and healthy drink

I am a tea fan. I like tea. I believe that black tea and green tea are very good for health. But is the tea that the average Indian drinks really beneficial? A few months ago I read about fluoride poisoning by drinking black tea and about how the milk we put in it helps in 'killing' the fluoride. A few days ago I read this article by management guru Gurcharan Das in the Sunday Times of India (Aug 12) in which he has flayed NGOs and the Indian government for targetting cola majors Coca Cola and Pepsi for pesticide content in their products. According to him the colas we drink in India are as safe, if not safer, than the colas sold in the West. What he writes about tea has made me worried. In his article he writes and I quote "According to European norms (EU), tea contains 187,300 times the pesticide than water used in colas. If hypothetically our colas had exceeded allowable levels by 30 times, I could still drink 6,200 glasses of cola and I would have less pesticide in my body than a cup of tea." (Italics mine) If this is true, and I do not see any reason to doubt him, then it is definitely a cause for worry as the per capita consumption of tea in India is much higher than the per capita consumption of cola drinks. The Government of India, especially the Ministry of Health, should go into this issue with all seriousness. It would be horrible if it is later found out that we have been behaving like Don Quixotes. I must add that I am not a fan of cola drinks and I feel that they are contributing in a major way to obesity and diabetes - two horrible lifestyle diseases which are assuming epidemic proportions in India. But I used to think that tea was perhaps the safest beverage to drink. Now it seems that I was wrong. I feel sad and cheated. Does anyone here know the truth?

How to score a self-goal by Gurcharan Das; Sunday Times of India; 12 August 2006


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