Temporary ban on the import of orange juices in the United States is likely to have a counter-productive effect, according to an industry expert.
Parents worried about the fungicide may actually feed to their children more of it by switching to other juices, such as apple or grape juice, according to former FDA Regulatory Counsel, Benjamin England.
The US Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) ‘test and hold’ policy for foreign orange juices, feared to contain fungicide, will encourage parents and children to consume other juices which are likely to contain more fungicide.
On 11 January 2012, the US FDA temporarily stopped the import of foreign orange juices after the discovery of carbendazim (also known as MBC), a fungicide banned in the United States, in shipments from Brazil.
Under the law, a food cannot contain a pesticide residue unless the residue has an established tolerance level for that specific food. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has not established a tolerance level for carbendazim residues in orange juice.
“By testing and holding all orange juice shipments FDA is creating a fear that is unreasonable,”says Benjamin England in a recent interview.
The EPA tolerance for TPM (as found by testing for MBC) in:
Apples 2.0 ppm (parts per Million, not Billion) — 200x the trace concentration limit of MBC in OJ
Apricots 15.0 ppm — 1500x the trace concentration limit of MBC in OJ
Bananas 2.0 ppm — 200x the trace concentration limit of MBC in OJ
Grapes 5.0 ppm — 500x the trace concentration limit of MBC in OJ
“That’s what parents will feed their kids while FDA jams up the U.S. ports of entry with detained, held, rejected containers of orange juice with parts per billion concentrations of MBC,” says England.
Fungicides like carbendazim are used to control fungi or fungal spores in agriculture, reports the Western Farm Press. “Carbendazim is still legal in Brazil, and the European Union allows foods to contain up to 200 parts per billion of the fungicide.
“As recently as 2008, the fungicide was used to kill black fungus on Florida oranges, but recent studies linked it to increased rates of cancers and infertility, causing the FDA to ban use of the chemical in all U.S. food products.”