Fungicide in Orange Juice Is Not What I Want to Wake Up To

orange juiceOh boy, I really could have done without this news this morning: The fungicide carbendazim has been detected in our orange juice. The FDA says that it "will start testing for fungicide," which has been found in low levels in orange juice. But nothing to be alarmed over -- they also say they "aren't concerned" about the levels of contamination, but just want to test to make sure the contamination "isn't a problem."

Remember the arsenic in apple juice controversy? Part of the problem was that, while the US does not allow the use of arsenic as a pesticide in the US, we still import juice from other countries where it's used. Well, it's the same story with orange juice. The US has not approved the use of carbendazim on our citrus farms, but we still import juice from other countries, like Brazil, where it's used. So here we go again.


This all started when an unnamed juice company reported to the FDA that they'd found low levels of the fungicide in their juice -- and in the juice of a competitor. According to the FDA, the juice company’s testing found levels up to 35 parts per billion of the fungicide, far below the European Union’s maximum residue level of 200 parts per billion. (Our country doesn't have a maximum residue level for carbendazim in oranges -- but maybe we should.) Europe tends to have higher standards for food safety than we do, so it's a relief to get that perspective. They're not even taking the contaminated juices off store shelves at this point.

Okay, so I won't panic, yet -- but I will check the orange juice in my refrigerator when I get home. Meanwhile, FDA official Nega Beru says the agency will be testing orange juice shipments at our borders. Any that are found with traces of carbendazim will be detained. Technically, since carbendazim isn't approved for use in the US, any food that contains traces of it is illegal here.

Now here's the part where I roll my eyes: The FDA has asked juice companies to ask their suppliers overseas to stop using carbendazim. Like, be sure to say "pretty please with a cherry on top." Because they're obviously all operating on the honor system here, right? Right. Patty Lovera of Food and Water Watch thinks the US should do its own testing -- and I agree. She also states the obvious: “The federal government needs to set consistent, meaningful, enforceable standards for all toxins." Ya think?

Does your family drink a lot of orange juice? Are you concerned about the contamination?


Image via DesheBoard/Flickr

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