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Carbendazim in OJ shipments of no “particular concern” to EU

By Mark Astley , 09-Feb-2012
Last updated the 10-Feb-2012 at 13:14 GMT

No EU plans to test orange juice and concentrate shipments in a targeted way.
No EU plans to test orange juice and concentrate shipments in a targeted way.

The presence of carbendazim in imported orange juice and concentrate is of no “particular concern” to health officials in Europe, despite continued measures in the US.

European Union (EU) Member States have been informed of US import testing results, which have so far seen 20 shipments detained or refused entry to the US, a European Commission (EC) spokesperson told FoodQualityNews.com.

The US Food and Drugs Administration (FDA) implemented measures to block entry to imports of orange juice and concentrate that contain measurable amounts (10ppb) of un-approved fungicide carbendazim.

The EU maximum residue level (MRL) for carbendazim in oranges, which is only applied to imports, is 200ppb.

The spokesperson added that no Rapid Alert System for Food and Feed (RASFF) alerts in relation to carbendazim in orange juice product imports have been reported by member states.

No testing planned

Following the introduction of measures in the US, the EC warned that it may begin testing shipments of the juice and concentrate once member states had been made aware of the US carbendazim test results.

“Member States will be informed in the next Standing Committee of the US results on carbendazim and might test in a targeted way the orange juice and concentrate imported from Brazil,” a spokesperson said at the time.

To date, samples have been taken from 86 shipments. Of these, 20 shipments, including 11 from Brazil, have been detained or refused entry to the US after testing positive for carbendazim.

The spokesperson added that there are currently no plans to test shipments entering the EU in a targeted way, as at this stage is no safety issue.

“The EU has a higher MRL and therefore it is not an issue for us at the moment.”

No safety concern

The US Environmental Protection Agency has maintained that any level of carbendazim in orange juice below 80ppb does not pose a health risk.

Despite this, the US-MRL still stands at 10ppb.

Fourteen imported samples collected from Florida-based facilities, of which nine were found to contain measurable amounts of the un-approved fungicide.

No measureable trace of carbendazim was found in the remaining five samples.

No actions have been taken against those that tested positive.

“Based on these results, FDA has determined that no action is needed to remove products from the market and that the orange juice consumed by the public does not pose safety concerns due to low levels of carbendazim residues found in FDA testing,” the FDA said following the domestic results.

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