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FDA yet to find any trace of carbendazim in orange juice

By Mark Astley , 23-Jan-2012
Last updated on 23-Jan-2012 at 13:39 GMT

The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is yet to find any trace of carbendazim in imports of orange juice since promising to block entry to shipments containing the fungicide.

Since 4 January 2012, the FDA has collected 45 samples of orange juice products from shipments attempting to enter the US, of which 19 have been found to contain no trace of carbendazim.

A further 26 samples are still pending analysis, which include all samples taken from Brazilian shipments of orange juice - the country at the centre of the scare.

Carbendazim is used widely in orange production in countries such as Brazil to combat the growth of black spots mould, but it is not approved for use with oranges in the US or Europe.

Of those determined to be “non-violative” eight came from Canada, eight from Mexico and one each from Honduras, Costa Rica and Belize.

Domestic samples

The update added that 14 samples had been collected domestically and are currently being processed.

FoodQualityNews.com reported last week on similar measures being implemented around the world in response to US actions.

Food safety authorities in Australia and New Zealand have promised to block entry to any import of orange juice containing any trace of the fungicide, and countries including Malaysia, Hong Kong and Russia have promised to step-up their monitoring.

The Russian food safety authority, Rospotrebnadzor, have been “instructed to monitor citrus juice products made from concentrate, produced in Brazil and the United States in case of exceeding the standard in its content carbendazim take action to halt its implementation.”

Deny entry

The FDA stepped-up its efforts when alerted to the presence of carbendazim in orange juice products already on the US market.

Minute Maid manufacturer Coca-Cola alerted the FDA after it found traces of the non-approved fungicide in samples of its own orange juice, its’ competitors and in samples yet to reach the market.

The FDA responded to the alert in the form of a letter to the Juice Products Association.

“FDA does not intend to take action to remove from domestic commerce orange juice containing the reported low levels of carbendazim,” the letter said.

“FDA is, however, conducting its own testing of orange juice for carbendazim, and, 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.”

“FDA is also sampling import shipments of orange juice and will deny entry to shipments that test positive for carbendazim.”

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