Aussie citrus growers press for Brazilian orange juice import tests

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Aussie citrus growers press for Brazilian orange juice import tests

Australia's citrus trade body has called on the government to increase testing of imported juice following the Brazilian orange juice carbendazim scare in the U.S.

Citrus Australia's chief executive officer Judith Damiani, said the fungicide was banned for use on Australian citrus two years ago.

"In Australia over 300,000 metric tonnes (MT) of oranges are imported every year in the form of cheap Brazilian orange juice concentrate. We call on the Australian Quarantine & Inspection Service to immediately increase testing of all imported citrus juice for chemicals banned in Australia," she said.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) learned last month from a juice company that low levels of carbendazim, 35 parts per billion, were present in a competitor’s marketed finished products, and in certain orange juice concentrates that were not on the market.

The U.S. accounts for 14.5% of the Brazilian orange juice sector's exports, and according to Citrus Australia one in every six glasses drunk by Americans comes from Brazil.

A preliminary risk assessment by the U.S.'s Environmental Protection Agency showed levels of the fungicide were too low to pose a health risk.

Although the FDA said it did not intend removing the juice from supermarket shelves its director Nega Beru, did say the organization would be conducting its own tests.

Beru said if levels of the chemical were  found to pose a health risk then the FDA would warn consumers and demand its removal from supermarket shelves.

He also said the FDA would sample import shipments and refuse entry to cargo which tested positive for the fungicide.

Carbendazim is used to prevent black spot mold on orange groves and is legally allowed in Brazil, as well as major importing destinations such as the the E.U., Japan and Canada.

Related stories: U.S. authorities to test Brazilian orange juice exports

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