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Tuesday
Jan102012

FDA to Ramp Up Testing of Orange Juice After Fungicide Reports

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- Do you usually go for a tall glass of orange juice in the morning?  Well, it turns out the O.J. you're drinking for breakfast might contain fungicide.

In a letter to the juice industry on Monday, the Food and Drug Administration announced that it will boost testing for carbendazim after one orange juice maker said it found low levels of the fungicide in its product as well as a competitor's.

Carbendazim is typically used by farmers to control fungi or fungal spores.  As the FDA notes, growers in Brazil use it in juice that gets exported to the U.S.

"Industry reports indicate that carbendazim is present in orange juice products from the 2011 crop from Brazil, where the fungicide is used legally under Brazilian law to combat black spot, a type of mold that grows on orange trees," the agency says in the letter.

The problem is that the fungicide hasn't been approved in the U.S.

"In the United States, however, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has not approved carbendazim for use as a fungicide on oranges, nor has it established a tolerance or an exemption from the need for a tolerance for carbendazim in orange juice in the United States.  Thus, carbendazim in orange juice is an unlawful pesticide chemical residue under the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act," the letter explains.

[CLICK HERE TO READ THE FULL LETTER]

The FDA now plans to conduct its own testing for carbendazim in orange juice and will check shipments at the border for the fungicide.  Shipments that test positive for it will be rejected entry.

As for those left wondering whether it's safe to drink that carton of O.J. in the fridge, fear not.  After conducting a preliminary risk assessment, the EPA, "concluded that consumption of orange juice with carbendazim at the low levels that have been reported does not raise safety concerns."

Furthermore, the FDA says it, "does not intend to take action to remove from domestic commerce orange juice containing the reported low levels of carbendazim."

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

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