Coca-Cola is reportedly the company responsible for alerting the FDA to detectable levels of carbendazim—a fungicide used on citrus—in its and competing brands of orange juice and orange juice concentrates.
Manufacturer of Minute Maid and Simply Orange, the soft drink giant discovered traces of the fungicide in late December on Brazilian orange juice imports that supplements the U.S. grown oranges. With a growing number of diseases plaguing orange groves in Florida, juice makers including Coca-Cola are now importing orange juice from countries including Brazil, where carbendazim is legal except when the fruit of the trees are destined for the U.S. market. Brazilian juice makes up about 11 percent of the total orange juice market in the U.S., but as much as 25 percent originates outside the U.S. according to the USDA.
In a statement on the FDA’s website, the organization said, “[T]he Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has not approved carbendazim for use as a fungicide on oranges, nor has it established a tolerance or an exemption from the need for a tolerance for carbendazim in orange juice in the United States. Thus, carbendazim in orange juice is an unlawful pesticide chemical residue under the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act.” But, the FDA also said that it will not pull juice from the shelves that contains low levels of carbendazim, but shipments of Brazilian orange juice—and juice from other countries as well—destined for the U.S. have all been stopped in order for further testing prior to entry. And any juices showing more than 10 parts per billion of the fungicide will not be allowed to enter the U.S. said the Juice Products Association, the industry trade organization representing major juice brands including Tropicana and Minute Maid. The EPA cites the recent levels of carbendazim detected by Coca-Cola as too low to raise any safety concerns.
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