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EU Juice Industry on Notice for Fungicide in OJ Imports

The European Commission — the governing body of the 27-state European Union — is warning the European juice industry that Brazilian juice imports could face fungicide testing in response to the recent move by U.S. Food and Drug Administration to initiate testing, according to Food Quality News.

While not approved in the United States or EU, carbendazim is widely used elsewhere to combat mold spots on fruit. At high levels, the fungicide has been tied to liver cancer in animal studies.

Unlike the United States, the EU has established a maximum residue limit, or maximum level considered safe, for carbenazim in orange juice: 200 parts per billion (ppb). The FDA said it would reject any shipments found to contain the fungicide at 10 ppb or more.

In a preliminary analysis, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency concluded that carbendazim at levels below 80 ppb in orange juice does not pose a risk to public health.

EU officials told FoodQualityNews.com that it will consider targeted testing of Brazilian juice imports based on FDA results, but that EU tests would use the 200 ppb residue limit. “At this step, the Commission does not recommend to the Member States to increase the tests on this product imported from Brazil,” according to the report. “As regards oranges/orange juice from Brazil, we have no record that the EU-MRL notified via the EU Rapid alert system has been exceeded.”

The FDA announced last Friday that orange juice shipments testing negative for fungicide carbendazim are being released into the United States. As of Jan 12, three Canadian samples had tested negative for carbendazim. The agency said 31 samples total have been collected and 28 are still pending analysis. The FDA will be updating testing information each Friday at fda.gov.

Testing in the United States was sparked by a letter sent to FDA by Coca Cola in late December that said the company had detected low levels of carbendazim in both the company’s own juice, as well as in samples taken from a competitor’s orange juice and juice concentrate imported from Brazil.

In a letter sent to juice processors last week, FDA said that while it is not concerned about the safety of the orange juice and is not requesting a recall, it would begin testing all orange juice shipments. The testing program began January 4.

The latest information from FDA on carbendazim in orange juice is available here.

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