From Examiner.com

A scathing new report on Celestial Seasonings teas and parent company Hain Celestial, shows 91% of the samples of Celestial Seasonings teas tested contained pesticides in levels that exceed U.S Federal limits.

High pesticides in 91% of samples

10 out of 11 varieties of Celestial Seasonings teas, one of the largest specialty tea manufacturers in North America, were found to contain excess pesticides in Antioxidant Max Blood Orange and Sleepytime Kids Goodnight Grape among other varieties.

From great beginnings...

Started in 1969, Celestial Seasonings was "founded on the belief that all-natural herbal teas could help people live healthier lives."

However, the tests conducted by EuroFins, an independent analytic testing company, determined that many varieties of Celestial Seasonings teas contained potentially dangerous levels of multiple pesticides.

The tests were part of a larger report by investment company Glaucus Research, which is highly critical of Celestial Seasonings parent company Hain Celestial.


Read the full Glaucus report on Hain Celestial here. (Copies of the Eurofins pesticide test results begin on page 29, Appendix 1).

Hain Celestial responds, sort of

Celestial Seasonings through a spokesperson responded with a mostly cut and paste from the "values" page of their website about how they employ a "rigorous testing protocol" and that they are "confident that all Celestial Seasonings Teas deliver on...high quality, safety and taste..."

UPDATE: Celestial Seasonings has responded to customer inquiries based on this article on their Facebook page by saying the story "is based on a report issued by a “short seller,” an investment firm which stands to gain financially if our parent company’s stock declines."

This is true, but it distorts the fact that the report was actually created by an international independent testing lab, Eurofins, and that the short seller says they never touched the samples at any time.

CS added; "we strongly disagree with the misleading information contained within the report...We sent the same teas mentioned in the report for testing to the National Food Lab (NFL), an industry-leading third-party lab...NFL’s independent testing reaffirmed that Celestial Seasonings teas are safe and follow the strict guidelines established by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

We continue to reassure you now that Celestial Seasonings teas are still...safe...quality products."

Celestial Seasonings has samples tested by its own consultants

National Food Lab (NFL) however, proudly lists Celestial Seasonings as one of its clients on its website. Saying of its clients, "Somewhere along the line, we have had a hand in their success." NFL declined to comment on its report, citing "confidentiality."

A spokesperson at the Eurofins lab where the original testing took place says, "we stand behind the results we report to our tea clients."

Celestial Seasonings has not sent me their own report.


How can Celestial Seasonings be so confident?

I wanted to believe Celestial Seasonings teas and Hain Celestial, I really did. So I asked them again if they had read the Glaucus report. Indeed they had they said.

So I asked, if you employ a "rigorous testing protocol" and are "confident" in the safety of your products, 'what went wrong? And are you planning to make changes and improvements to your process?'

The company had no further comment.

A poor track record for Celestial Seasonings teas

In 2009 Kay Wright, a botanicals purchaser for the company for over 30 years, was interviewed by TLC Cooking and claimed, "we do pride ourselves all the time on being very natural. It's company standards—not industry standards. We test absolutely everything, and not very many companies do that extensive testing."

Can short sellers be trusted?

Glaucus Research is an investment firm that specializes in short selling. Short selling is betting money that a stock price will go down.

Glaucus is "short" Hain Celestial and would benefit from bad news about the company, but their report is extremely well researched. And Glaucus runs the risk of being sued for fraud if it knowingly put out a false report.

In the report, released February 21, 2013, Glaucus says, "it is important to note that at no time did we take custody of, touch or handle any of the tea samples. Rather, we had the products shipped directly to Eurofins from the Company’s website and other online retailers."

Glaucus said it encourages others to repeat their tests. Glaucus further said, "the only way for consumers to make good food choices is if food producers are held accountable for the marketing and labeling of their products."

So, who can you trust for actually good sustainable tea? Twinings.

A report by rankabrand.org gives an A to Twinings teas, their highest rating for sustainability.

Incidentally, Celestial Seasonings got an 'E,' the lowest sustainability ranking.

The list of the Celestial Seasonings teas tested

The following were the teas that were tested by Eurofins. Only the Rooibos Safari Spice turned up zero pesticides, the rest exceeded Federal safety and/or California safety limits:

-Green Tea Peach Blossom
-Green Tea Raspberry Gardens
-Authentic Green Tea
-Antioxidant Max Dragon Fruit
-Green Tea Honey Lemon Ginger
-Antioxidant Max Blackberry Pomegranate
-Antioxidant Max Blood Orange
-Sleepytime Kids Goodnight Grape
-Sleepytime Herb Teas
-English Breakfast Black K-Cup
-Rooibos Safari Spice

A better way to solve this?

Perhaps the best way to settle this, is to have a Consumer Reports or Environmental Working Group type of organization buy samples off the shelves and send them to a lab.

DISCLOSURE: I have no investment position in HAIN.

Leave a Reply.