Food Court reported in early January on a FDA notification that the Agency would step up testing for a fungicide that has been found in low levels in orange juice (read more). News came late on Friday of 9 import shipments detained by the FDA after testing positive for the fungicide carbendazim. Reuters reported on the detention of three shipments of Brazilian orange juice and six from Canada. Two other Brazilian juice shipments tested positive for the fungicide, but the companies decided not to import the juice into the country, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration said on Friday.
The FDA said 29 of the 80 orange juice samples it had taken since testing began on January 4 were safe, including two from Brazil and seven from Canada. Canada does not grow its own oranges, but may process juice from other countries. The nation makes up less than 1 percent of U.S. imports.
The fungicide is illegal on citrus in the United States, although it does not pose a safety risk according to the FDA.
The FDA said it would begin testing imports for the fungicide and reject shipments that were above the legal limit. Shipments that have more than 10 parts per billion (ppb) of the fungicide will be detained, and the importers will have 90 days to export or destroy the product. The FDA said it would test all shipments twice, and detain any that tested positive for carbendazim at least once.
Producers and importers should be cautious of the new scrutiny. The FDA is exercising review of imports under the enhanced powers and penalties of the Food Safety Modernization Act(FSMA).
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