Statement From the Juice Products Association

The Juice Products Association responds to the discovery of a banned fungicide in orange juice. Read a summary of the recent events, including how the FDA and EPA have responded. Click here to see how the Juice Products Association responded to questions from The Dr. Oz Show.

Posted on | By Juice Products Association

Orange juice is safe. The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) as well as US juice producers assure consumers there is no need for concern. The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) agrees, declaring that the trace level of the fungicide that was found in some imported juice products pose no risk to public health.

Juice producers are committed to safety and quality and they take many steps before, during and after processing to assure the safety of the juice they make. In fact, it was during quality control checks that a juice producer detected trace levels of a fungicide used on oranges from Brazil, where some orange juice in the US comes from. The juice company alerted the FDA, the agency responsible for regulating food safety in the US. As precaution, the FDA is testing all incoming imported orange juice at the ports for the presence of carbendazim and is also testing juice already at processing plants in America. Juice that is found to exceed guidelines established by the FDA cannot be sold in America.

Carbendazim is a component of a fungicide that is registered with the EPA for use on food crops in the US. While not currently registered for use on citrus in the US, a fungicide with carbendazim was registered for use on oranges in the US from 2002 through 2008, but according to the manufacturer, for economic reasons they chose not to renew the registration. It is important to note that trace amounts of a crop protection product are not necessarily cause for concern because regulatory bodies establish allowable levels that are judged to be safe after a rigorous review and risk assessment process. EPA has stated that the levels detected in orange juice pose no health risk.

 

There is no need for consumers to worry about the safety of the juice. The food supply in the US is one of the most tightly monitored and regulated in the world and juice producers work hand in hand with regulatory authorities to ensure safety. Consumers can be assured that juice producers and regulatory authorities are committed to maintaining the safety of juice.

Frequently Asked Questions

 

Is orange juice safe?

Yes. Orange juice is safe and consumers have no need for concern. As a precautionary measure, the FDA is testing all incoming shipments of imported orange juice for the presence of carbendazim. The FDA is doing so because a US juice company alerted the agency that the company’s own testing had detected trace levels of carbendazim in orange juice from Brazil, and FDA now wants to determine that levels in imported orange juice do not exceed these trace levels.

 

What exactly is carbendazim and is it harmful?

Carbendazim is a component of a fungicide that is registered with the EPA for use on food crops in the US. While not currently registered for use on citrus in the US, a fungicide with carbendazim was registered for use on oranges in the US from 2002 through 2008, but according to the manufacturer, for economic reasons they chose not to renew the registration. It is important to note that trace amounts of a crop protection product are not necessarily cause for concern because regulatory bodies establish allowable levels that are judged to be safe after a rigorous review and risk assessment process. EPA has stated that the levels detected in orange juice pose no health risk.

If there is no safety concern, why is the FDA testing imports?

As a precautionary measure, the FDA is testing imported orange juice from all countries before it enters the US. To err on the side of safety, the FDA said it will not allow the importation of any orange juice that tests at 10 part per billion (ppb) or higher for carbendazim. This is a level consistent with established acceptable limits for carbendazim on other food products. FDA is also testing products at juice processing plants. Any finished product that tests at 80 ppb or higher will not be permitted to go to market. Both of these amounts are very low levels; in fact, they are way below allowable limits set by international authorities such as the Codex Alimentarius Commission established by World Health Organization and Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations. 

How was the presence of carbendazim initially detected? 

Carbendazim was found by a juice producer during its own testing and was reported to the FDA. 

Did any product with the carbendazim make it to retailers or consumers? 

According to the FDA, some orange juice with very low levels of carbendazim did get to market, but FDA emphasizes that juice is safe. The FDA reported that, “EPA has concluded that consumption of orange juice with carbendazim at the low levels that have been reported does not raise safety concerns. FDA does not intend to take action to remove from domestic commerce orange juice containing the reported low levels of carbendazim.”

Regarding the "low levels" of carbendazim in orange juice which EPA concluded did not raise safety concerns – how low were they?

To date, the FDA has released the results of tests on three samples, all which tested below 10 parts per billion (ppb). The EPA has concluded that carbendazim at levels below 80 parts per billion (ppb) in orange juice does not pose a risk to public health.

What do the US companies do when they find it? Do the US manufacturers have a level of tolerance?

When juice producers detect carbendazim during testing, they report it to the FDA. Products that tests at 80 ppb or higher for carbendazim will not be sent to market.   

Is carbendazim registered for food use in the US? 

Carbendazim is a component of a fungicide that is registered with the EPA for use on food crops in the US.  While not currently registered for use on citrus in the US, a fungicide with carbendazim was registered for use on oranges in the US from 2002 through 2008, but according to the manufacturer, for economic reasons they chose not to renew the registration.

Should consumers be concerned?

No. Both the FDA and EPA have stated that consumption of orange juice with carbendazim at the low levels that have been reported is not a safety concern. The food supply in the US is one of the most tightly monitored and regulated in the world. Consumers can be assured that juice producers and regulatory authorities are committed to maintaining the safety of juice and other foods in America. 

Article written by Juice Products Association