FDA officials said they aren’t concerned about the safety of the juice but will increase testing to make sure the contamination isn’t a problem.
In a letter to the juice industry Monday, the agency said that an unnamed juice company contacted FDA in late December and said it had detected low levels of the fungicide carbendazim in the company’s own orange juice and also in its competitors’ juice.
Fungicides are used to control fungi or fungal spores in agriculture.
Carbendazim is not currently approved for use on citrus in the United States, but is used in Brazil, which exports orange juice to the United States.
An FDA spokeswoman said the company’s testing found levels up to 35 parts per billion of the fungicide, far below the European Union’s maximum residue level of 200 parts per billion.
The United States has not established a maximum residue level for carbendazim in oranges. In the letter to the Juice Products Association, FDA official Nega Beru said the agency will begin testing shipments of orange juice at the border and will detain any that contain traces of the chemical.
Because it is not approved for use in the United States, any amount found in food is illegal.
Beru said that because the FDA doesn’t believe the levels of residue are harmful, the agency won’t remove any juice currently on store shelves.
But he asked the industry to ensure that suppliers in Brazil and elsewhere stop using the fungicide.
“If the agency identifies orange juice with carbendazim at levels that present a public health risk, it will alert the public and take the necessary action to ensure that the product is removed from the market,” he said.
So…do I have this right? The government doesn’t have standards for the fungicide, doesn’t test for it, has it (by definition) considered illegal for use in our supply, and are currently requesting that the industry ensure that Brazilian suppliers cease using it… and none of this is reason enough to pull it off the shelves? I guess that’s too much of an inconvenience to the manufacturers, eh?
Yeah, and the absence of evidence is the evidence of absence… or something. Yeesh.