FDA Finds Unapproved Fungicide In Florida Orange Juice

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) just announced that it discovered unapproved fungicide in Florida orange juice.

A recall will not be initiated; neither will be destruction of the juice. The agency confirmed that the levels of carbendazim discovered are well below dangerous levels and that the juice is safe to drink, according to The Associated Press (AP). The juice tested was combined with Brazilian juice.

Carbendazim has been linked to liver tumors in animals.

As we’ve mentioned, PepsiCo recently announced that an unapproved fungicide was detected in its Tropicana orange juice, adding that the levels were below federal safety concerns. The fungicide scare followed a discovery by Coca-Cola Co., which makes Minute Maid orange juice, that its juice shipments from Brazil also contained carbendazim. Coca-Cola advised the FDA about a potential problem in the industry when it detected low levels of carbendazim in its own and a competitors’ juice.

The FDA previously announced that an orange juice recall was not needed following its initial testing that detected carbendazim in Brazilian oranges because levels were not sufficient to warrant a recall. The agency began testing orange juice entering the United States on January 4. U.S. health regulators recently allowed the first shipments of imported orange juice to enter the country; however, three shipments from Brazil and six from Canada contained carbendazim and were detained.

Since the fungicide is not approved for use in the U.S. on citrus, any detected amount in citrus products is considered illegal. The FDA also said that the fungicide will continue to remain illegal in citrus at any level in the U.S., although industry groups in the U.S. and Brazil are urging the regulator to consider its position on the fungicide which is used in Brazil to fight blight blossom and black spot, a mold that plagues orange trees.

Most orange juice products in the U.S. contain juices from different sources, such as Brazil, said the AP, which noted that Brazil is the world’s largest orange producer.

The FDA said that nine of 14 samples retrieved from large orange juice holding tanks in Florida tested positive—up to 36 parts per billion (ppb) for carbendazim. The U.S. has not created a maximum residue level for the fungicide in oranges; however, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) considers 80 ppb to be a health risk.

The FDA said the tanked juice is meant for packaging in hundreds of thousands of retail containers and it will conduct follow-up testing at the facilities; the agency would not release the names of the companies to where the samples were taken, said the AP.

The FDA continues to detain orange juice imports containing carbendazim at levels greater than 10 ppb, said the AP, and has detained nearly 25 percent of the 86 orange juice shipments at the U.S. border since the beginning of the year. “We looked at products already in the country and realized there was no safety risk there, and yet carbendazim is technically illegal, we know Brazil uses it and we want to prevent it from entering the country,” said FDA spokeswoman Siobhan DeLancey, wrote the AP. “We’ve stated before that we would test imports on an ‘as is’ basis, and that’s still our policy,” DeLancey recently told Fox News.

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