The FDA is currently testing orange juice imports after the recent discovery of the fungicide carbendazim, banned in the United States. Carbendazim is known to cause liver cancer in animal studies, can be toxic to cell division, which can harm male fertility, and can cause birth defects.
Note: FDA tests on imports, so far, have not found the fungicide at levels that warrant a recall of product on shelves or for the import to be turned back at the border. To read a statement from the FDA, click here.
Here, the Juice Products Association responds to our questions on these events and orange juice manufacturing standards.
1. Are American juice companies required to test for carbendazim?
Companies selling foods and beverages in interstate commerce must comply with US laws and regulations. Some of our members rely on government testing while others have more extensive programs. It’s important to note that it was one of our members that discovered the substance and notified the FDA, even though, as the FDA has said, at the low levels found, there are no safety concerns with the Brazilian orange juice our members use in their products.
2. Are American juice companies required to report their test results for carbendazim to FDA?
Yes. Companies selling foods and beverages in interstate commerce must comply with US laws and regulations.
3. Are there other fungicides used in other countries that are not used here that could turn up in imported juice products? (If so, which fungicides?)
As there is no international standard, it is possible that there are others. That’s why juice producers test. Most countries outside the US use the international tolerances set by the Codex Alimentarius Commission established by World Health Organization and Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations. In fact, the tolerance for carbendazim in orange juice under Codex is significantly higher than the levels found in Brazilian orange juice, as is the tolerance set by the European Union, Canada and Japan.