U.S. authorities to test Brazilian orange juice imports
Brazilian orange juice producers are looking for an alternative to prevent black spot mold, following the decision by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) that carbendazim is an unlawful fungicide.
Brazilian Citrus Growers Association (Associtrus) president Flávio Viegas, told Globo Rural the news was a big concern for producers as the U.S. consumes 200,000 metric tons (MT) a year, accounting for 14.5% of juice exports.
"The work will be to find alternative products to meet the American market because the Brazilian citrus industry cannot produce fruit without the use of pesticides," he was quoted as saying.
The FDA learned from a juice company that low levels of carbendazim were present in a competitor's marketed finished products, and in certain orange juice concentrates that were not n the market on Dec. 28 last year.
The fungicide is not legally registered for citrus use in the U.S. despite the fact it is legally allowed in Brazil and major importing destinations such as the the E.U., Japan and Canada.
Brazilian Citrus Growers Association chief Renato Queiroz, told media agency Telesur that the FDA's decision was very unexpected.
"It surprised us as an industry as they (the U.S.) participate in an integrated citrus progam. They decide which products that can and cannot be utilized. Until now the industry has allowed the use of carbendazim for producers. That's why they (Brazillian growers) are suprised by this provision by the U.S."
The FDA said industry reports showed carbendazim presence from juices produced from the 2011 Brazilian orange crop.
An Environmental Protection Agency preliminary risk assessment concluded levels of carbendazim were too low to pose a safety hazard, stating there were no moves to remove the juice from supermarket shelves.
However, the FDA's food safety director Nega Beru, said it would sample import shipments of orange juice for testing.
"We are conducting our own testing of orange juice for carbendazim, and, if the if the agency identifies orange juice with carbendazim at levels that present a public health risk, it will alert the public and take the necessary action to ensure that the product is removed from the market."