U.S. detains 9 orange juice shipments for fungicide

Reuters News
Posted: Jan 27, 2012 12:23 PM

(Reuters) - U.S. health regulators said on Friday that they had detained three shipments of Brazilian orange juice, and six from Canada, that tested positive for the fungicide carbendazim.

Two other Brazilian juice shipments tested positive for the fungicide, but the companies decided not to import the juice into the country, the Food and Drug Administration said.

The FDA said 29 of the 80 orange juice samples it had taken since testing began on January 4 were safe, including two from Brazil and seven from Canada.

Canada does not grow its own oranges, but may process juice from other countries. The country makes up less than 1 percent of U.S. imports.

The fungicide scare flared two weeks ago after the FDA announced that a company -- later identified as Coca-Cola Co -- had reported finding carbendazim in juice samples from Brazil, which accounts for half of U.S. juice imports.

The FDA said it would begin testing imports for the fungicide and reject shipments that were above the legal limit.

Orange juice futures crept higher on Friday, but trading remained cautious as it remained unclear what the FDA would do with other Brazilian juice shipments.

Carbendazim is illegal on citrus in the United States, although it does not pose a safety risk, the FDA said.

Shipments that have higher than 10 parts per billion (ppb) of the fungicide will be detained, and the importers will have 90 days to export or destroy the product.

The FDA said it would test each shipments twice, and detain any that tested positive for carbendazim at least once.

Of the six shipments that were detained from Canada, none had levels of fungicide higher than 31 ppb, and most were below 20 ppb. The Brazilian shipments that tested positive had carbendazim levels between 20 ppb and 52 ppb.

(Reporting by Anna Yukhananov; Editing by Lisa Von Ahn and Marguerita Choy)