March 20, 2018

FDA Halts Imports of Orange Juice

The FDA has temporarily stopped imports of orange juice from all countries since the fungicide carbendazim was found in some juice. The imports are going to be held while the agency conducts tests on the product.

The government will destroy products that contain the fungicide at a level higher than 10 parts per billion. The European Union allows imports with carbendazim levels up to 200 parts per billion; the U.S. has not set a standard for that chemical.

The FDA is also screening juice already on the market, since orange juice is usually made up of domestic and imported product. The testing takes up to 10 days, and the agency is working on more than 30 samples. Canadian juice has just been cleared, and juice from that country will be released into the market soon.

Carbendazim is linked to a risk of liver tumors in animal studies and the risk of infertility. The fungicide was found in juice imported from Brazil. The fungicide is used to fight black spot, which doesn’t affect crop yields or the fruit’s taste, but changes its cosmetic appearance.

Food safety experts and advocacy groups say that the government needs to set standards for chemicals in juice, especially for compounds such as arsenic, which causes blindness and cancer; and lead, which causes brain damage and nervous system disorders. Those chemicals have been found in juices.

If you’re concerned about chemicals banned in this country that are used on food in other countries, read the label carefully to see where the ingredients come from. But be aware that food processors and manufacturers are not required to list the country of origin on food products, although companies aren’t allowed to lie about that origin.

Brands that may use imported juice include:

  • Tropicana
  • Minute Maid
  • Simply Orange
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