The U.S. Food and Drug Administration reported finding low levels of fungicide carbendazim in orange juice headed for U.S. supermarkets, but assured the public the juice remains safe to drink.
Of the 14 samples, which were taken from large holding tanks of juice concentrate at large domestic orange juice processors, nine tested positive for carbendazim, five had no measurable level of carbendazim (below 10 parts per billion). The positive tests ranged from 13 ppb – 36 ppb, well below the Environmental Protection Agency’s 80 ppb safety threshold.
After being alerted by Coca Cola, the owner of Minute Maid and Simple Orange brands of orange juice, that certain juice from Brazil had tested positive for the fungicide in January, FDA initiated testing of all orange juice imports, regardless of origin.
The fungicide, which is used to combat unsightly mold, is not allowed in the United States, but used widely elsewhere. The United States has a carbendazim tolerance for several fruits, but not orange juice.
So far, FDA has rejected about a quarter of imports for containing detectable levels of the fungicide, above 10 ppb, which is used to combat mold. Imports from Brazil and Canada have been rejected or detained.
“FDA is continuing to ensure that orange juice in the United States does not pose a safety concern due to the presence of carbendazim residues,” the agency said in an update Thursday. “Based on all results we have seen to date, we remain confident that orange juice in the U.S. may be consumed without concerns about its safety due to the possible presence of such residues.”