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Entries in Orange Juice (6)

Friday
Feb032012

Is Your Orange Juice Safe?

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- Low levels of a banned pesticide found in orange juice imported from Brazil is safe for sale in the domestic supply, says the Food and Drug Administration after conducting new tests.

The juice, which is stored in huge, three-story high tanks in Florida, is tainted with the fungicide carbendazim, and will soon reach American grocery stores.

"In this case, we've been really cautious in working with EPA to insure that these residues are posing no safety concern," Michael Taylor, deputy director of the FDA, said Thursday.

The FDA has said that the juice is entirely safe to drink and that the amount of the fungicide in the contaminated OJ is far below unsafe levels. To test positive for the pesticide, orange juice samples had to contain at least 10 parts per billion of the pesticide.

Carbendazim has been found to cause birth defects in rodents and some chromosome problems in human cells in laboratories. However, it hasn't been found to have any health effects for humans. Carbendazim is a pesticide used to kill fungus and fungal spores. It is not approved for use on oranges in the U.S., but is lawful in other countries.

Studies show no risks of consuming carbendazim at up to 80 parts per billion, and that actual levels of danger are thousands of times higher, the Environmental Protection Agency said.

"FDA is confident that orange juice in the United States may be consumed without concerns about its safety due to the possible presence of such residues," said a statement on the agency's website.

The American juice processors are not being asked to clean the tanks, as the FDA says it will let the fungicide wash its way out of the storage system, along with the orange concentrate and onto store shelves over next few weeks.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Thursday
Feb022012

FDA Finds Fungicide in OJ Processing Plants

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- Tests conducted by the Food and Drug Administration at orange juice processing facilities in Florida, where massive tanks hold thousands of gallons of concentrate, have turned up low levels of the banned fungicide carbendazim.

The FDA took 14 samples and nine had measurable levels of carbendazim. Because the fungicide was found at levels far below the Environmental Protection Agency’s safety limits, the FDA “has determined that no action is needed to remove product from the market and that the orange juice consumed by the public does not pose safety concerns due to the low levels of carbendazim residues found in FDA testing.”

With shipments showing traces of carbendazim now being blocked at the border, the assumption is that the carbendazim levels will drop. Of 86 shipments tested at the border, 20 have been turned back after testing positive for carbendazim.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Friday
Jan272012

FDA Finds Traces of Fungicide in OJ

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON ) -- The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has found levels of the pesticide carbendazim in 11 samples of orange juice imported to the U.S., according to a statement from the agency.

Officials are in the process of testing 80 samples of orange juice from foreign countries, and imported and foreign products at domestic juice manufacturers. So far, 29 of those tests have been negative. Of the samples that tested positive, six came from Canada and five from Brazil. The FDA said in a statement that those samples were refused entry into the U.S.

To test positive for the pesticide, orange juice samples had to contain at least 10 parts per billion of the pesticide. Carbendazim has been found to cause birth defects in rodents and some chromosome problems in human cells in laboratories. However, it hasn’t been found to have any health effects for humans.

Although low levels of the pesticide have been found, the FDA said they do not pose a significant health threat.

“FDA is confident that orange juice in the United States may be consumed without concerns about its safety due to the possible presence of such residues,” said a statement on the agency’s website.

Carbendazim is a pesticide used to kill fungus and fungal spores. It is not approved for use on oranges in the U.S. but is lawful in other countries.

Alerted by a report from one company of levels of carbendazimin in its orange juice, the FDA began testing all orange juice entering the U.S. from foreign countries earlier this month, as well as orange juice currently on store shelves. So far, no products have been recalled.

According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, 26.4 percent of orange juice consumed in the U.S. in 2010 was imported, and 56.4 percent of those imports came from Brazil.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
Jan112012

All Imported Orange Juice to Be Tested for Fungicide, FDA Says

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- The Food and Drug Administration says it will be testing all orange juice entering the U.S., after low levels of the fungicide carbendazim were found in imported OJ.

“We have initiated testing of orange juice both at ports of entry and in the United States,” Michael Taylor, the FDA’s deputy commissioner for food told ABC News via email on Wednesday. “Very preliminary results show levels well below the level of any safety concern. … Our testing is just getting started.”

Carbendazim is used on fruit to kill fungi or fungal spores. It is not approved for use on oranges in the U.S., but it is used in Brazil.

The FDA was alerted to the presence of the fungicide by a company that found carbendazim in its own juice as well as the juice of competitors. The FDA has not identified the company or said where the juice originated.

According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, 26.4 percent of orange juice consumed in the U.S. in 2010 was imported, and 56.4 percent of those imports came from Brazil.

However, the FDA spokeswoman said via email that the U.S., “does not receive fresh oranges from Brazil.”

Carbendazim has been found to cause birth defects in rodents. Studies also have shown that in human cells in laboratories, the chemical can cause chromosome problems. However, the chemical has not been shown to harm humans.

The FDA said on Wednesday that if the chemical is detected in any juice, it will not be allowed in the country. The U.S. agency said that the highest level of carbendazim found so far was still 1,000 times lower than the level of concern.

Although the FDA has started testing orange juice on store shelves, no products have been recalled.  In addition, the Environmental Protection Agency believes the fungicide levels in juice do not pose a public health threat and has not found any juice with levels higher than its level of concern.

No recalls are planned if the detected levels in juice found in stores are low.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

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

Friday
Dec162011

Orange Juice's 'Secret Ingredient' Worries Some Health-Minded Moms

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Natalya Murakhver, a New York food writer and mother of an 18-month year old daughter, loved her premium brand orange juice -- the "100 percent pure" and "not from concentrate" kind that comes in the colorful carton and tastes consistently delicious.

That is, until she said she learned from her first-time moms group that there's a "secret ingredient" in all premium orange juices that companies are not required to put on their labeling.

Now, after writing Whole Foods, she refuses to buy her favorite, "365" juice, amid uncertainty about its contents.

"One of the moms said she had read about [how the juice is made] and they held it in tanks for up to a year and it pretty much lost all of its flavor and had to be reinvigorated with these flavor packs, which are essentially chemicals," said Murakhver, 40, and co-author of They Eat What?: A Cultural Encyclopedia of Weird and Exotic Food from around the World.

For the last 30 years, the citrus industry has used flavor packs to process what the Food and Drug Administration identifies as "pasteurized" orange juice. That includes top brands such as Tropicana, Minute Maid, Simply Orange and Florida Natural, among others.

Murakhver said the addition of the flavor packs long after orange juice is stored actually makes those premium juices more like a concentrate, and consumers need to know that.

Experts estimate two-thirds of all Americans drink Florida orange juice for breakfast, and companies spend millions on their marketing campaigns touting its health benefits.

The "not from concentrate" brands appeared on store shelves sometime in the 1980s to differentiate them from frozen juice and other bottled concentrates. Despite its high price tag -- now up to $4 a carton -- sales of the premium brands have soared.

But those juices don't just jump from the grove to the breakfast table.

After oranges are picked, they are shipped off to be processed. They are squeezed and pasteurized and, if they are not bound for frozen concentrate, are kept in aseptic storage, which involves stripping the juice of oxygen in a process called "deaeration," and kept in million-gallon tanks for up to a year.

Before packaging and shipping, the juice is then jazzed up with an added flavor pack, gleaned from orange byproducts such as the peel and pulp, to compensate for the loss of taste and aroma during the heating process.

Different brands use different flavor packs to give their product its unique and always consistent taste. Minute Maid, for example, has a distinctive candy-sweet flavor.

Kristen Gunter, executive director of the Florida Citrus Processors Association, confirmed that juices are blended and stored and that flavor packs are added to pasteurized juice before shipping to stores.

Flavor packs are created from the volatile compounds that escape from the orange during the pasteurization step.

The pasteurization process not only makes the food safe, but stabilizes the juice, which in its fresh state separates. Adding the flavor packs ensures a consistent flavor.

The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) grades the quality of the juice based on color, flavor and defects.

"To get grade A, we have to blend it," she said. "Because oranges and their growing seasons vary, both the Valencia -- 'king of the oranges' -- and its lesser cousin, the Hamlin, are combined in the process.

"A processor is faced with harvesting the crop and giving the consumer some sense of what [he or she] might be getting," she said. "You buy branded orange juice, you kind of want it to taste, generally, the same. That expectation is met by blending different varieties and, in order to blend, storage is involved."

The Food and Drug Administration does not require adding flavor packs to the labeling of pasteurized juice (which includes the from-concentrate as well as the not-from-concentrate versions), because, "it is the orange," said Gunter.

Non-pasteurized juice must be labeled as such, with warnings about potential pathogens. These regulations have been in place since 1963, she said.

Murakhver, said she has been buying "365" from Whole Foods "for years" and was under the impression that "all the ingredients were disclosed."

"It's arguable if it's bad for you or not. Still, it's a secret ingredient and no one seems to know about it," she said. "'Oranges' is all it says on the label -- a perfect product."

Concerned, Murakhver wrote to Whole Foods and got an email response, which she shared with ABC News.

Whole Foods spokesman Julie Campbell wrote that she was unable to disclose the name of the company that makes its orange juice, "as that information is proprietary."

"Flavor Packs are typically made by fractional distilling the oil from orange peel; essentially concentrating the components," she wrote. "Flavor packs are used by other brands to standardize their products. We accomplish the same thing by blending orange juice from different varieties and parts of the season together."

"I don't know what that means," said Murakhver.

"There hasn't been a day in the last three years that we've not had it in the fridge and at the top of the shopping list with the milk," she said. "We are going to get a juicer and eat fresh fruit every morning and try to get our sugar high from fresh fruit.

"I like vintage champagne, not vintage orange juice," said Murakhver.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio







ABC News Radio