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Sri Lanka Tea Checked After Arsenic Threat

January 03, 1986|From Reuters

COLOMBO, Sri Lanka — The government is checking all tea marked for export after the British and American embassies received warnings that arsenic had been put in some consignments, sources said here today.

Officials and the Sri Lankan Tea Board strongly denied that Tamil guerrillas had mixed arsenic powder in a shipment of tea for export but confirmed that precautions were being taken.

Official sources said that foreign embassies had been told that examination of the tea so far had shown none of it was poisoned but that the checks were continuing.

Tea is Sri Lanka's main foreign exchange earner.

In Calcutta, center for the tea trade in India, the world's largest producer and exporter, a major newspaper said guerrillas fighting for a separate Tamil state had poisoned tea exports to harm the Sri Lankan economy.

The Calcutta Telegraph said that according to rumors in the tea trade, arsenic powder was mixed with a large tea consignment for export to the United States.

"The reports received also said that the shipment had already left Sri Lankan shores," the newspaper said.

"The U.S. importers immediately got in touch with Sri Lankan trade circles which, after an emergency meeting, declared the rumor baseless," it added.

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