US food safety officials have denied entry to 11 shipments of orange juice products, including five from Brazil, after carbendazim was found in import samples.
Nine shipments of orange juice or orange juice concentrate have been detained by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA). The owners of two shipments decided not to import into the US after testing positive for the unapproved fungicide.
The Juice Products Association (JPA) has “applauded” the FDA measures, but urged the agency to increase the allowable level of carbendazim in orange juice concentrate from 10ppb to 60ppb.
Of the 11 shipments, six were from Canada and five were from Brazil.
Increase allowable limit
Under recent measures, any shipment found to contain the fungicide at 10ppb or greater – the level at which the FDA can accurately confirm the presence of carbendazim - will not be permitted entry into the US.
The US Juice Products Association (JPA) has called on the FDA to raise this allowable limit and differentiate between ready-to-drink orange juice and frozen concentrate.
It has called on the FDA to raise the allowable limit for carbendazim in imported orange juice concentrate to 60ppb – six times the level allowed at the moment.
“The juice industry endorses and applauds FDA’s oversight of imported orange juice concentrate; however, juice processors maintain that evaluating orange juice on an “as consumed” basis rather than as concentrate, which no one drinks as it, is the logical and practical way to assure safety of the consumer,” JPA said in a statement published on its website.
None of the five detained Brazilian shipments, which were all frozen orange juice concentrate, contain levels of carbendazim above 60ppb.
“FDA is currently using 10 ppb as the maximum limit for carbendazim in imported orange juice concentrate as well as ready to drink orange juice. JPA is not calling for a higher allowable limit on carbendazim. We are just asking FDA to convert the measurement for carbendazim in orange juice concentrate to juice as consumed. No one drinks concentrate," JPA told FoodQualityNews.com.
"The difference would permit up to almost 60 ppb carbendazim in concentrate so that when concentrate is rehydrated for sale the levels would be below 10 ppb.”
The JPA, however, declined to comment to on the implications of the results on the industry.
A total of 80 samples have been collected, of which 29 have tested negative for carbendazim – including two from Brazil.
Another 14 were from Mexico, seven from Canada, two from Costa Rica, and one each from Belize, Honduras, Lebanon and Turkey.
Results for samples from domestic manufacturers have yet to be announced.
Carbendazim, a fungicide commonly used in agriculture, is not approved for use in the production of oranges in the US. It is, however, commonly used in Brazil to combat black spot mould on orange trees.
Similar global measures
The FDA stepped-up its efforts in relation to the fungicide after it was alerted to its presence in orange juice already on the US market.
Minute-Maid manufacturer Coca-Cola alerted the FDA after it found carbendazim in its marketed juice, its’ competitors and in samples that were yet to reach the market.
The Agency responded to the alert in the form of a letter to the Juice Products Association (JPA) in which it promised to sample all import shipments of orange juice and “deny entry to shipments that test positive for carbendazim.”
FooQualityNews.com reported last week after identical measures were implemented by food safety authorities in Australia and New Zealand.
Russia, Malaysia and Hong Kong are among several that have increased monitoring of orange juice.