Federal regulators found an illegal fungicide in three additional shipments of imported orange juice, bringing the total number ofshipments stopped at the U.S. border or ports to 23, the Food and Drug Administration said Thursday.
The FDA began stopping imported orange juice at U.S. entry points Jan. 4 after Coca-Cola found traces of the fungicide carbendazim in beverages made with orange juice imported from Brazil. The fungicide is not approved for use on U.S. citrus crops.
As of Feb. 9, the agency had stopped and collected samples from 99 shipments. Of those, 63 shipments tested negative, and 46 were released. The agency detained 23 shipments that tested positive for 10 parts per billion or more of the fungicide.
Those shipments must either be destroyed or returned to the country of origin by the importer. Of the 23 shipments, 12 were from Brazil and 11 from Canada. Test results for an additional 13 samples are still pending, according to the FDA.
The agency briefly tested samples of domestic orange juice from Florida. Nine out of 14 samples of orange juice concentrate taken from large holding tanks in Florida contained from 13 to 36 parts per billion of carbendazim, the FDA said.
The concentrate was made with domestic oranges and concentrate from Brazil, the agency said, which decided the concentrations of carbendazim were not harmful and that domestic juice would not be pulled from supermarket shelves.
“Based on all results we have seen to date, we remain confident that orange juice in the U.S. may be consumed without concerns about its safety due to the possible presence of such residues,” the FDA said in an e-mail notice Thursday.
Concentrations of carbendazim below 80 ppb are not harmful to humans, according to the Environmental Protection Agency. The fungicide is used in Brazil and other countries to prevent the growth of “black spot” fungus on citrus trees and fruit.
Contact William B. Cassidy at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter at @wbcassidy_joc