The Food and Drug Administration published a new update on Thursday to its ongoing testing of imported orange juice for the fungicide carbendazim, a compound restricted from agriculture in the United States.
Since January 9, the FDA has tested samples from 104 shipments of orange juice and orange juice concentrate. Out of those, the agency found 24 shipments that contained at least 10 parts per billion (ppb) of carbendazim.
Half of those 24 shipments came from Canada, while the other half came from Brazil. The FDA has added the food processors associated with those shipments to its Import Alert 99-08 list.
Of the shipments testing negative for carbendazim, 57 have been released for sale. Those shipments came from: Canada (22 shipments), Mexico (18), Dominican Republic (3), Italy (2), Argentina (2), Costa Rica (2), Honduras (2), Trinidad & Tobago (2), Brazil (1), Lebanon (1), Belize (1) and Turkey (1).
The FDA began testing all orange juice imports for carbendazim in January after being alerted by Coca Cola — owner of Minute Maid and Simply Orange — that some juice from Brazil had tested positive for the fungicide.
The Environmental Protection Agency considers carbendazim levels below 80 ppb safe for human consumption. In earlier tests of shipments, those containing the fungicide ranged in concentration from 13 to 36 ppb. The FDA will not allow sale of any shipments containing more than 10 ppb.
On Thursday, the FDA also rejected a request by the Brazilian Citrus Exporters Association to have levels of carbendazim in orange juice concentrate assessed according to its “single strength” level — the levels that would be found once the concentrate is mixed with the intended ratio of water. Brazilian orange growers recently began using carbendazim to combat a problem with “black spot,” a mold that grows on trees.
The FDA plans to continue testing orange juice imports for carbendazim and will publish updates every Thursday evening.