Nine shipments were detained on Friday after authorities found traces of fungicide in U.S. orange juice imports, says Reuters. The orange juice was brought from Brazil and Canada and it contained carbendazim, a substance which has been banned in America by the Food and Drug Administration.
After the shipment was rejected, U.S. authorities received various calls from industry groups trying to convince them that the fungicide is legal and it should be recognized as such in America, as well. According to their declarations, carbendazim is used in Brazil to combat blight blossom and black spot; therefore, it shouldn’t be regarded as illegal.
The problems began on January 4 when the FDA was alarmed by Coca Cola about the high levels of fungicide contained in the orange frozen concentrate. Researchers working for FDA started testing the imported juice and they noticed that the amounts of carbendazim are much higher than the ones accepted by the American law.
Half of the U.S. orange juice imports come from Brazil and they meet more than a tenth of domestic demand. Consequently, the U.S. Juice Products Association and Brazil’s CitrusBR try to convince the FDA to raise the amount of fungicide it would allow in the country by raising the legal limit for frozen concentrated juice.
CitrusBR’s Christian Lohbauer explained reporters that there is a difference between ready-to-drink juice and frozen concentrate. According to him, frozen concentrate contains higher levels of carbendazim because it is supposed to be diluted before drinking. Once diluted, the juice will contain 60 parts per billion, thus observing the FDA’s legal limit for drinkable juice.
Food products that contain more than 10 parts per billion fungicides are to be banned from the country, according to FDA. However, the administration has clearly stated that food with less than 80 parts per billion pose no health risk. America is the country with the smallest level as the European Union allows 200 parts per billion.
The U.S. Juice Products Association reassured everyone that the agency is using the lower maximum level of fungicide. The FDA, on the other hand, is not willing to change its policy, so Brazil might be forced to look for an alternative way to keep trees free from mold.