WITH UPDATES JULY 20, 2013 - Celestial Seasonings refuses to release pesticide report.
A scathing 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.
Celestial Seasonings has denied the report and claims it has done its own testing, but refuses to release the results citing "proprietary information."
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 by an independent lab to contain excess pesticides in tea varieties from Antioxidant Max Blood Orange to Sleepytime Kids Goodnight Grape among other varieties.
READ THE FULL PESTICIDE REPORT
The tests, conducted by EuroFins, a worldwide analytic testing company, determined that many varieties of Celestial Seasonings teas contained potentially dangerous levels of multiple pesticides.
Hain Celestial responds, sort of
Celestial Seasonings through a spokesperson originally responded with a mostly cut and paste from the "values" page of their website about how they employ a "rigorous testing protocol." Later, when their facebook page lit up with concerned consumers, CS added more.
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."
In my opinion this is a red herring as 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 and encourages others to test samples as well.
Celestial Seasonings, Pants on Fire?
CS further says they had their own samples tested by "the National Food Lab (NFL), an industry-leading third-party lab...NFL’s independent testing reaffirmed that Celestial Seasonings teas are safe..."
We continue to reassure you now that Celestial Seasonings teas are still...safe...quality products."
But the National Food Lab (NFL) proudly lists Celestial Seasonings as one of its clients on its website. Saying, "somewhere along the line, we have had a hand in their success."
The NFL declined to comment on its report, citing "confidentiality."
Celestial Seasonings refuses to release the lab reports either, calling it "proprietary information."
A spokesperson at the Eurofins lab where the original testing took place says, "we stand behind the results we report to our tea clients.
A poor track record for Celestial Seasonings teas
Started in 1969, Celestial Seasonings was "founded on the belief that all-natural herbal teas could help people live healthier lives."
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 commissioned the original report, but says it ordered the products online and never touched the samples. The tests were part of a larger report by investment company Glaucus Research, which is highly critical of Celestial Seasonings parent company Hain Celestial.
Glaucus is an investment firm that specializes in short selling. Short selling is betting money that a stock price will go down.
Glaucus would benefit from bad news about the company, but they can be sued for fraud if they knowingly put out a false report. Hain has filed no such lawsuit so far.
Untainted tainted samples of Celestial Seasonings teas
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.
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.