FDA continues testing for fungicide in orange juice

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(AP) — After fungicide was discovered in orange juice products from Brazil, the Food and Drug Administration blocked orange juice product imports, so that it could test for the fungicide carbendazim, which studies have linked to a higher risk of liver tumors in animals, according to the latest update from Consumer Reports.

The Food and Drug Administration says it will increase testing for the fungicide. (Photo Shutterstock)

Many of the orange juice samples tested by the Food and Drug Administration in recent weeks do not contain measurable amounts of a banned fungicide tied to oranges from Brazil, the federal government announced on Friday, said The Washington Post.

Coca-Cola Co. said on January 12th it alerted the FDA after it discovered via testing its own and competitors’ products that some Brazilian growers had sprayed their orange trees with a fungicide that is not approved for use in the U.S.

The FDA had said that an unnamed juice company alerted it in December after detected low levels of the fungicide in orange juice products after testing its own and competitors’ products. However, the FDA and the Environmental Protection Agency have said orange juice is safe to drink and the levels found are below levels of concern.

Most orange juice products made by Coke and other companies contain a blend of juice from different sources including Brazil.

The FDA said previously that for their current tests, if levels of carbendazim are greater than 10 parts per billion they will destroy the orange juice products or return them to the country of origin.

Besides, orange juice, according to Dr. Oz’s extensive national investigation, apple juice and grape juice should be a concern as well. Consumer Reports is out with its investigation into arsenic in the food supply. It found 10% of apple juice and grape juice samples had total arsenic levels above the drinking water standard of 10 parts per billion. Consumer Reports also found that the majority of the arsenic in the tested juice was inorganic, the kind to cause cancer.

Atlanta-based Coca-Cola did not say which of its own and others’ products it tested contained the fungicide. Its own orange juice products include Simply Orange and Minute Maid. It had said, however, that it had notified FDA of the low levels of the fungicide carbendazim in the company’s orange juice and in competitors’ juice. The FDA had said that an unnamed company had told the agency about the fungicide and confirmed the company was Coca-Cola.

“This is an industry issue that affects every company that produces products in the U.S. using orange juice from Brazil,” said Coca-Cola spokesman Dan Schafer. He declined to say whether its tests shows fungicide in Coca-Cola products

The FDA has said the low levels found of the fungicide aren’t a safety risk but they will increase testing to make sure the contamination isn’t a problem.

The fungicide, carbendazim, is not currently approved for use on citrus in the U.S., but is used in Brazil, which exports orange juice to the United States. Brazil is the biggest producer of oranges in the world, according to the Agriculture Department.

Coca-Cola says it continues to work with the FDA on the issue.

In addition to Coca-Cola, Pepsico Inc.’s Tropicana brand is one of the largest U.S. orange juice producers.

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