FDA Blocks More OJ Imports Over Fungicide

February 6, 2012

2 Min Read
FDA Blocks More OJ Imports Over Fungicide

WASHINGTONBrazil's orange juice industry has removed the pesticide carbendazim from its list of recommended fungicides for crop treatments after the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) blocked another 20 shipments of orange juice last week from entering the country because they contained traces of the banned fungicide.

Carbendazim in orange juice is an unlawful pesticide chemical residue under the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act. It is approved for use in a variety of crops, including citrus, in many countries. However, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has not approved carbendazim for use as a fungicide on oranges, nor has it established a tolerance or an exemption from the need for a tolerance for carbendazim in orange juice in the United States.

In January 2012, FDA began testing orange juice sold in U.S. supermarkets for carbendazim it believed entered U.S. commerce through imports from Brazil. FDA also has been sampling import shipments of orange juice and will deny entry to shipments that test positive for carbendazim.

Based upon the risk assessment of carbendazim by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA, FDA has repeatedly stated that orange juice being sold in the United States is safe. The EPA risk assessment has determined that carbendazim levels up to 80 parts per billion (ppb) pose no threat to human health.

On Jan. 30, the Juice Products Association released a statement that read in part: The juice industry endorses and applauds FDAs oversight of imported orange juice concentrate. Juice processors maintain, however, that no one drinks orange juice concentrate and therefore the levels of carbendazim in orange juice should be evaluated on an as consumed" basis, which is a more logical and practical way to assure safety for the consumer. FDA does have enforcement discretion to consider the fact that consumers dont drink orange juice concentrate. The Juice Products Association has called upon FDA to use this enforcement discretion to calculate any levels of carbendazim found in imported orange juice tested on an as consumed basis"not on a concentrated basiswhich would raise the allowable limit for carbendazim in imported orange juice concentrate to almost 60 ppb, much higher than levels measured in any samples to date.

The United States cannot grow enough oranges to satisfy American consumer demand for orange juice.  Juice processors must rely on orange juice concentrate from other countries to assure adequate supplies. Juice producers in the U.S. are committed to assuring the safety of all orange juice sold in America."

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