The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has refused to move on allowable levels of carbendazim in orange juice product imports – meeting disapproval from the US industry.
The Juice Products Association (JPA), which represents the US fruit and juice products industry, has expressed its disappointment at the FDA decision not to evaluate the presence of carbendazim in imported orange juice concentrate on an “as consumed” basis.
The JPA statement follows the publication of a FDA letter to Brazilian citrus exporters association CitrusBR, which outlined the FDA’s objections to a request by the trade body for a reassessment of the current measures.
To date, 24 shipments, including 12 from Brazil, have been detained or refused entry to the US after measureable levels (10ppb+) were detected in samples.
The FDA has defended its current measures after being approached by FoodProductionDaily.com – stating its “obligation” to protect the integrity of its food safety system.
‘As consumed’ basis
“Individuals do not consume orange juice concentrate and therefore, JPA has called upon the FDA to use its enforcement discretion to calculate carbendazim presence in juice on an ‘as consumed’ basis,” said a JPA statement sent to FoodProductionDaily.com.
CitrusBR requested a review of current measures including the revision of allowable carbendazim levels, based on the fact that orange juice concentrate is diluted prior to consumption.
It also cited an Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) risk assessment, which determined that levels of carbendazim up to 80ppb do not pose a health risk.
Despite this, the FDA “has stated that it will continue to enforce a maximum level of 10ppb for cardendazim in imported orange juice concentrate entering the US,” the JPA statement added.
“We are disappointed that the FDA will not evaluate imports on an ‘as consumed’ basis which is a more logical and practical way to assure safety for the consumer.”
The Brazilian trade body also made claims that the current measures could be in violation of international trade agreements – a claim import law specialist FDAImports.com reiterated.
According to FDAImports.com, the agency has potentially exposed itself by admitting that shipments either detained or refused entry to the US do not pose a health risk.
The FDA disagreed, stating that its decision was not inconsistent with US World Trade Organisation (WTO) obligations.
“When FDA learned that orange juice products containing low levels of carbendazim had entered the country, the Agency consulted with EPA, which determined that the levels reported did not raise safety concerns, and in fact, were far below levels permitted in other countries,” the FDA told FoodProductionDaily.com.
“For that reason, FDA determined that requiring a recall or the destruction of orange juice products already in the country was not warranted.”
“On the other hand, FDA has an obligation to protect the integrity of the system designed to protect the public from illegal pesticide residues in food. Further, it is the responsibility of those importing foods into the U.S. to comply with these requirements.”
“For that reason, FDA routinely takes action to prevent products containing illegal pesticide residues from entering the country and will do so with respect to orange juice products containing detectable levels of carbendazim.”