A Bocci Ball drink, which happens to contain orange juice.
The FDA has found traces of a potentially toxic fungicide in orange juice. (Photo Credit: CC BY/Barbloke/Fotopedia)

While the Food and Drug Administration doesn’t claim to be worried, concerned orange juice drinkers may be. The Associated Press reports that the FDA has decided to step up testing for a potentially harmful fungicide that has been found in orange juice across the country.

Unapproved chemical fungicide in orange juice

Low levels of carbendazim have been discovered in orange juice from an unnamed company, note FDA officials. While the level of carbendazim hasn’t prompted official warnings or recalls yet, the FDA claims to be testing to ensure that contamination “isn’t a problem.”

The AP notes that the orange juice company contacted the FDA of its own accord in late December. The company claimed that it had found carbendazim in its own juice and in juice of its competitors. Levels up to 35 parts per billion were discovered, which is well within European Union levels.

Fungicides such as carbendazim are used to control the growth of fungi or fungal spores in agriculture. Carbendazim is not allowed for agricultural use in any concentration in the U.S., but it is used in Brazil, which exports orange juice to the States.

Testing at the border

FDA official Nega Beru notified the Juice Products Association that the FDA will immediately begin examining shipments of orange juice for fungicide contamination. Juice containing any traces of carbendazim will be confiscated, a course of action that some critics have found inconsistent with the FDA’s early pronouncement that the levels of chemical residue discovered in orange juice are not harmful.

AP reports note that no orange juice currently on store shelves will be recalled. Brazilian suppliers have been asked to stop using carbendazim to abate fungal contamination.

“If the agency identifies orange juice with carbendazim at levels that present a public health risk, it will alert the public and take the necessary action to ensure that the product is removed from the market,” said Beru.

Setting a consistent standard

The fungicide in orange juice scare serves to underscore the need for consistent food testing standards on the federal level, notes Patty Lovera of the consumer ground Food and Water Watch.

“The federal government needs to set consistent, meaningful, enforceable standards for all toxins,” she said.

Two-headed fish larvae, brought to you by carbendazim


Associated Press

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Food Safety News

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