Australasia follows US lead on carbendazim in orange juice

By Mark Astley

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Orange juice, Food and drug administration

Australasia follows US lead on carbendazim in orange juice
Food safety authorities in Australia and New Zealand have taken steps to ban the sale of orange juice containing carbendazim – mirroring measures taken in the US.

The Food Standards Australia New Zealand (FSANZ) announcement comes less than a week after the US Food and Drugs Administration (FDA) decided to deny entry to any shipment of orange juice containing the fungicide.

The FDA announced its intentions in a letter to the Juice Products Association after being alerted to levels of the fungicide in orange juice by Minute Maid manufacturer, Coca-Cola.

Authorities in Malaysia have also indicated their intention to strictly monitor all orange juice product imports.

Monitoring program

“FSANZ is liaising with the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry to ensure imported products comply with the new requirements. FSANZ has been advised that a monitoring program is being established to test for carbendazim,” ​a FSANZ statement said.

“The Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicines Authority (APVMA) has been reviewing permissions for Carbendazim. As a result of this review oranges and orange juice sold in Australia will not be permitted to contain any carbendazim after the existing permissions are revoked in the first quarter of 2012.”

The FSANZ added that consumers should not be concerned about drinking orange juice as exposure to carbendazim through orange and citrus juices is extremely low.

An average 60kg adult would have to drink more than 145 litres of orange juice in a day before surpassing the safe level, the authority statement added.

“Cause of concern”

FoodQualityNews.com’s sister site FoodNavigator-Asia.com reported earlier this week on Malaysian plans to strictly enforce carbendazim regulations in the country – where the presence of the fungicide in orange juice is banned.

“According to data from the Food Safety Information System of Malaysia, about 2,800mt of orange juice concentrate has been imported from Brazil in 2011. This is a cause of concern and we would thus need to monitor future exports,”​ a Malaysian health ministry spokesperson said.

“But as per our food regulations, carbendazim is not allowed in orange juice at all in Malaysia. We would make sure that these regulations were adhered to and importers are alerted to the stricter monitoring.”

Deny entry

On 28 December 2011, the FDA was informed by Minute Maid manufacturer, Coca-Cola, that it had detected low levels of carbendazim in some of its marketed orange juice products, its competitors’, and some samples not yet on the market.

As a result, the FDA stated in a letter, to the Juice Products Association, that it would not allow orange juice products containing carbendazim to enter the country.

Brazil, which Brazil provides around 11% of US orange juice, and Mexico are the top two importers of orange juice concentrate into the US - both allow the use of carbendazim in orange production.

“FDA is collecting and analysing samples of orange juice products that arrive at US borders from all countries and will not allow any that contain measurable levels of carbendazim to enter the United States,”​ an FDA update said.

Related topics: Regulation & Safety, Juice Drinks

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