Jan. 20 (Bloomberg) -- Testing of imported orange juice for a banned fungicide has not turned up any product with dangerous levels of the chemical since Jan. 4, U.S. regulators said today.
The Food and Drug Administration has collected 45 samples of imported orange juice, the agency reported. Nineteen have proven to be safe, and 26 are awaiting analysis, according to a weekly update from the FDA posted online. Regulators have released 12 of the 19 samples back to companies.
The safe samples came from Canada, Mexico, Honduras, Costa Rica and Belize, the FDA said. The agency began temporarily holding and testing orange juice samples after trace levels of the fungicide carbendazim were detected in products from Brazil.
“If the FDA collects and analyzes three shipments of orange juice products from the same manufacturer and all samples are found to be in compliance, products from that manufacturer will no longer be sampled under the current assignment,” the agency said in its report.
Carbendazim is banned in use in U.S. oranges and has been linked to liver tumors in animals. U.S. regulators were alerted to use of the chemical in December by Atlanta-based Coca Cola Co., which owns the Minute Maid brand.
The agency also is in the process of testing 14 domestic orange juice samples, the FDA said in its report.
Imported juice containing concentrations of the chemical of 10 parts per billion or higher will be refused or destroyed, the agency has said. Domestic juices face an 80 parts per billion benchmark because the Environmental Protection Agency determined there are no concerns at that level.
The U.S. is the biggest single importer of orange juice and took in 190,000 metric tons last year, U.S. Department of Agriculture data show.
--With assistance from Stephanie Armour in Washington. Editors: Reg Gale, Bruce Rule
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