Friday morning health inspectors with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) detained three shipments of orange juice from Brazil, along with six orange juice shipments from Canada, after they tested positive for the illegal fungicide carbendazim.
According to Reuters, Canada does not grow its own oranges (they require a more tropical climate, after all) but processes the fruits after they are imported from elsewhere. Brazil, on the other hand, grows and produces its own oranges. It’s this statistic that has caused a stir.
Financial experts have reportedly expressed concern that the FDA may ban all Brazilian orange juice from hereon out. It’s a decision that would drastically change the industry, as Brazil currently supplies half of all orange juice currently imported into the United States. But it’s an entirely feasible situation, as 51 of the 80 orange juice samples tested by the FDA since the beginning of January were found to contain an excess of 10 parts per billion of carbendazim.
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Carbendazim and the FDA have a complicated relationship. The FDA has asserted that carbendazim “does not pose a safety risk,” and in fact the fungicide is perfectly legal when used with over 30 different food products in the U.S. from grains to nuts. But when it comes to growing oranges, or any type of citrus within the country, the chemical is off limits for use.
The FDA has stated that Brazil and Canada will have 90 days to take back their orange juice shipments or have them destroyed. Meanwhile orange juice futures reportedly rose 3 percent.