Shipments of orange juice from Canada have been stopped at the border after testing by the Food and Drug Administration found low levels of the fungicide carbendazim, which is banned in the U.S. and was previously found in orange juice product shipments from Brazil.
Fungicides are chemical compounds or biological organisms used to kill or inhibit fungi or fungal spores that can damage agriculture.
After fungicide was discovered in the orange juice products from Brazil, the FDA blocked all imports, so that it could test for carbendazim, which studies have linked to a higher risk of liver tumors in animals. The FDA stated previously that for its current testing, if levels of carbendazim are greater than 10 parts per billion, the orange juice product would be destroyed or returned to its country of origin.
On Friday, the FDA said that six shipments from Canada had tested positive for the fungicide. And to date five shipments from Brazil have tested positive.
Thus far, the FDA has collected samples from 80 shipments of orange juice or orange juice concentrate. Of these, 29 shipments tested negative for carbendazim Of the 29 samples.
To date, the samples that have tested positive for carbendazim had levels between 10 and 52 parts per billion. The Environmental Protection Agency has said that levels under 80 parts per billion are not a safety risk. FDA testing of samples from domestic manufacturers is ongoing.
The majority of orange juice for sale in the U.S. is from oranges grown domestically, and about 25 percent is imported, according to figures from the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
It was the Coca Cola Company, owner of the Minute Maid brand, that originally alerted the FDA that their orange juice and that of their competitors carried residues of the chemical. Coca Cola was legally required to come forward, under the 2008 Amendments to the Food Drug and Cosmetic Act creating a Reportable Food Registry.
If you're concerned about the orange juice that may be currently sitting in your fridge you can look at the label to find its country of origin, and don’t use it if you don’t want to. You can also purchase organic juice.