The Food and Drug Administration has cleared 19 international shipments of orange juice tested for an illegal fungicide andreleased 12 shipments into the U.S., but the federal agency said Friday it still has 26 shipments to test and review.
The FDA put a hold on imported orange juice shipments at U.S. ports and border crossings Jan. 4 after Coca-Cola reported trace amounts of the fungicide carbendazim in beverages partially made with orange juice imported from Brazil.
It may take two to three weeks before tests are completed and the shipments are allowed to proceed, the agency said. Juice or concentrate or powdered products that contains even traces of the fungicide carbendazim will be denied entry.
The FDA is also testing domestic orange juice for the fungicide, though the agency said it is not considering a recall. The Environmental Protection Agency says concentrations lower than 80 ppb are not dangerous. A total of 14 samples are being analyzed.
Carbendazim is used in Brazil and other countries but is not approved for use on crops in the U.S. The small amounts initially found in juice products — 35 parts per billion or less — are not considered harmful, but they’re illegal.
The FDA will deny entry to any shipment found to contain 10 ppb or more of carbendazim. Importers have 90 days to destroy or export the shipments.
American consumed about 1.2 million gallons of orange juice in 2009 and 2010, and about 25 percent of all U.S. juice is imported, and often mixed with domestic juice.
Sixteen of the 19 shipments tested so far were from Canada and Mexico, with three shipments from Honduras, Costa Rica and Belize. Liquid, concentrate and powdered juice products are being tested.