Orange juice may be okay to drink once again

By Park Sae-jin Posted : February 2, 2012, 14:06 Updated : February 2, 2012, 14:06
Many of the orange juice samples tested by the Food and Drug Administration in recent weeks do not contain measurable amounts of a banned fungicide tied to oranges from Brazil, the federal government announced on Friday.

The FDA started the testing in early January, after Coca-Cola told the agency that it had found traces of the fungicide carbendazim when it tested samples of its orange juice brands, which include Minute Maid and Simply Orange. The company also said it had found low levels of the pesticide in its competitors’ orange juice brands and in certain orange juice concentrates that were not on store shelves.

While many countries use carbendazim on a variety of crops, its use on oranges is prohibited in the United States, according to the Environmental Protection Agency. The fungicide’s registration expired in 2008, and no company applied to re-register it.

In its own testing, Coke identified the source of the tainted samples as oranges from Brazil, which uses carbendazim to combat a mold that grows on orange trees.

FDA responded by testing samples of orange juice imports at ports of entry, and holding those shipments until its tests were done. Of the 45 import samples collected, 19 did not contain measurable amounts of carbendazim and 12 of those have been released, the FDA said Friday. The samples tested so far came from five countries, but not Brazil.

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