FDA Testing Orange Juice: Positive for Fungicide

About a week ago, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) said it had detained eleven shipments of orange juice imports at the border, after they tested positive for the fungicide carbendazim at the levels of at least 10 parts per billion.  The FDA’s testing of all imported orange juice for carbendazim, which is applied to prevent mold on orange trees, is expected to continue through July 2012.

Since the FDA announced last month that it was sampling imported orange juice from Brazil and other South American countries for a fungicide that is not approved for use on oranges in the United States, the price of Florida oranges has skyrocketed.  For the American consumer, this may hurt their pocketbooks as early as March.  fdaimports.com, a Maryland-based consulting firm, agrees this testing will have a ripple effect, leading to increased prices at the supermarket. It also points out that while orange juice with 10 parts per billion of the chemical is not allowed in the U.S., grape juice is allowed to contain 5 parts per million (not billion), and apple juice 2 parts per million.

Major companies, such as Pepsi-Co-owned Tropicana and CocaCola-owned Minute Maid have been buying up more Florida oranges lately. Normally, these two giant companies sell a blend of juice from Florida and Brazil.  Tropicana said in January that it would start purchasing only Florida oranges in its Pure Premium orange juice because of an unrelated decision it made “some months ago.”  Minute Maid officials said they would use “Florida oranges in higher amounts, but not exclusively.”

Indian River Select, Orchid Island, and other niche products, such as Uncle Matt’s Organic, also do not use flavor packs. The flavor packs contain natural oils from oranges, stripped off, then added back. Big companies use them so they can be stored for months. That is why every carton of Tropicana Pure and Minute Maid’s Simply Orange has a uniform flavor. This is common practice in big national brands and in private-label brands. The smaller producers of Florida orange juice, Orchid Island and Indian River Select, are bragging what their juice is and is not. They claim that it is not imported on ships, and not stored in million-gallon vats for a year’s time, such as the larger companies’ juice are.

Once again, the big companies don’t care if they poison us, as long as their profits are there.  I would rather pay a few cents extra to support the smaller companies who actually produce quality products and have to compete with the giants. It is recommended that you should check the container before purchasing orange juice, to make sure it does not say anything about Brazil, and is made entirely in the United States.

What are your thoughts? Are you concerned? Do you think you will start looking at the containers and avoiding orange juice made with oranges from Brazil or other South American countries? Leave your comments on our Facebook and Twitter pages. You may also stop by our website, or contact one of our attorneys at 1-800-246-HURT (4878) for more information.

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