The fungicide carbendazim is used in Brazil but not approved to use on citrus in the US. After a yet unnamed company reported detecting low levels of carbendazim in its own orange juice and in its competitors,’ the FDA said that it will increase testing to ensure that contamination is not an issue. FDA official Nega Beru says that, because the FDA “doesn’t believe the levels of residue are harmful,” juice that is currently being sold in stores will not be recalled. The industry has been asked to ensure that suppliers in Brazil and elsewhere do not use carbendazim, a chemical used to control fungi or fungal spores.
Testing by the company detected levels up to 35 parts per billion of the fungicide in orange juice, says the FDA. This figure is still below the European Union’s maximum residue level of 200 parts per billion; the US has yet to establish a maximum residue level for carbendazim.
As the Washington Post notes, the FDA’s detection of fungicide in orange juice “comes after the agency said it would also step up testing for arsenic in apple juice.” Arsenic is found at low levels in apple juice, and the government has said that these are safe to drink. Consumer advocates — concerned, especially, about the presence of arsenic in apple juices favored by children — have led to the FDA considering increasing restrictions on arsenic in apple juice. Patty Lovera of the consumer group Food and Water Watch notes that the FDA should conduct its own testing, rather than relying on testing done by a company on its own products.
Declining Orange Juice Consumption
The announcement about chemicals in orange juice comes at a time when the price of orange juice has been skyrocketing. The Wall Street Journal says that frozen orange juice concentrate futures have gone up 26% in six days over worries that a recent cold snap in Florida — which provides 75% of the US orange juice supply – has damaged crops. The news of fungicide in orange juice sent prices up 9.7%, due to fears that supplies will be even more limited.
However, demand for orange juice has been declining. Retail sales of orange juice fell 8% from a year earlier, in the four weeks ending December 24 according to Nielsen data published by the Florida Department of Citrus. Meanwhile, prices have surged 7.8%, with orange juice now costing $6.12 a gallon.
My own household follows this trend in declining orange juice consumption. Only my husband likes it; my son does not care for the taste or texture. As for myself: While being a committed coffee drinker, I really just prefer water.
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