Brazilian orange juice imports to continue in Australia despite U.S. ban over fungicide fear

Posted by AFN Staff Writers on 13th January 2012

Australian juice companies are continuing to use oranges from Brazil that may contain residues of the potentially harmful fungicide carbendazim, despite the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) temporarily banning Brazilian orange imports due to health concerns.

Carbendazim is used to control plant diseases in cereals and fruit, including citrus, bananas, strawberries, pineapples. Studies have found that high doses of carbendazim cause infertility and destroy the testicles of laboratory animals. Use of carbendazim in Europe was banned by the European Parliament in 2009.

On 28 December 2011, the FDA learned carbendazim was present in orange juice products from the 2011 crop from Brazil, where the fungicide is used legally under Brazilian law to combat black spot, a type of mould that grows on orange trees. Carbendazim is already a banned substance in the U.S.

The FDA released a statement saying that is sampling all import shipments of orange juice and will deny entry to shipments that test positive for carbendazim.

The FDA said low levels of carbendazim were not dangerous and the agency will not be recalling any products as a result.

According to Food Standards Australia New Zealand (FSANZ), the acceptable level for carbendazim residue in Australian juices is 10 parts per million – above the amounts discovered in the U.S.

In January 2010, the Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicines Authority (APVMA) ‘effectively discontinued’ Carbendazim usage on grapes, melons, citrus fruit, custard apple, mango, pome fruit, stone fruit and turf. Carbendazim makes up just over 1 per cent of the Australian fungicide market.

However, even these facts do not appear to have changed the Australian regulatory position as at today’s date.