A BBC investigation found dangerous working conditions at a tea plantation. ©123RF
A BBC investigation found dangerous working conditions at a tea plantation. ©123RF

Tea brands drop Indian supplier over working conditions

3 February 2016

Three leading tea brands have stopped sourcing from an Indian supplier after a BBC investigation found dangerous working conditions at a tea plantation, the corporation has reported.

Twinings, Taylor’s of Harrogate and Fortnum & Mason are said to have suspended business with the Assam Company in north-east India since the documentary aired last year.

The BBC said workers at an Assam Tea company estate in north-east India were spraying chemicals without the necessary protective equipment.

A documentary showed men who reported breathing difficulties, numbness on their hands and face and a burning sensation on the skin after spraying.

The plantation had been given the Rainforest Alliance’s green frog seal.

The Rainforest Alliance said it had immediately investigated four estates featured in the documentary and had stripped a group of Assam Company plantations of the seal.

Further unannounced audits were planned for 25 percent of all certified farms in Assam, the Rainforest Alliance added.

The NGO also said it would strengthen its Sustainable Agriculture Network (SAN) standard in 2016.

It said that in the shorter term farm managers would have to immediately assess the quality of employee housing, water supply and sanitation facilities - changes which will apply worldwide.

If any shortcomings are found the farms must present plans to correct any housing and sanitation shortcomings within two months.

Farms failing to meet these requirements farms will be de-certified.

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