Consumers have been warned to stop using popular tea products available at Aldi, Woolworths, Coles and IGA stores after they were found to be contaminated with a chemical that can be harmful if ingested or inhaled.
Aldi's Diplomat brand of Ginger and Lemon Herbal Infusion 60-gram packs of tea were recalled on Tuesday due to the dangerous chemical, ethylene oxide, being detected.
Anyone who has the product with a best before date between 08/02/2023 and 11/02/2023 has been urged to stop using the tea immediately and return the pack to an Aldi store for a full refund.
Food Standards Australia New Zealand warned "food products containing chemical contamination may cause illness/injury if consumed".
Warning over Nerada Ginger and Lemon Tea
The Nerada Ginger and Lemon Organic Herbal Infusion Tea in a 60-gram pack sold at Woolworths, Coles and IGA stores has also been recalled due to the same chemical contaminant.
The recall applies to packs with a best before date between 08/01/23 and 22/01/23.
Consumers have been urged to not consume the product and return it to where they purchased it for a full refund.
The product has been available for sale at Woolworths in NSW, the ACT and Queensland, as well as at Coles in NSW, the ACT and Victoria.
Independent food retailers including IGA have also been selling the tea in NSW, the ACT, Queensland, Victoria, Tasmania, South Australia and Western Australia.
How harmful is ethylene oxide?
Ethylene oxide has been historically used as a processing aid to disinfect herbs and spices, but has been phased out worldwide due to its potentially harmful side effects.
Exposure to the chemical can cause central nervous system depression and irritation of the eyes and mucous membranes, according to the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
Long-term exposure can cause eye, skin, nose, throat and lung irritation, as well as brain and nervous system damage, and potentially reproductive issues, the EPA warned.
The chemical has been blacklisted as a carcinogenic to humans when exposed via inhalation.
Aldi clears product from shelves
Aldi would not confirm whether any other tea products sold at stores nationwide had been supplied by the manufacturer that used the chemical in the processing of the Diplomat Ginger and Lemon tea.
Diplomat Ginger and Lemon tea packs within the specified best before dates have been pulled from shelves, the supermarket said.
"At this stage Aldi is working with the supplier to identify the cause of this issue. Once this has been found, corrective measures will be taken. During this process these products will not be for sale in Aldi stores," a statement read.
There have been no known cases of illness or injury caused by exposure to the chemical in the tea, according to the retailer.
"Aldi investigated this product and identified the potential issue and as a precaution has initiated this recall. Aldi stores has not received any complaints from customers with any related illnesses," it said.
"We apologise for any inconvenience, but the quality and safety of our products for our customers is our top priority."
A Woolworths spokesperson confirmed the supermarket would be complying with Food Standards' directives in managing the recall, but would not be pulling any further products from shelves.
Yahoo News Australia has contacted Nerada Organics, Coles and IGA for details on how it will respond to the recall.
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