FDA blocks orange juice shipments from Canada

@CNNMoneyInvest January 27, 2012: 4:28 PM ET
The Food and Drug Administration said Friday that it had detained orange juice shipments from Brazil and Canada after they tested positive for low levels of fungicide.

The FDA is testing all foreign orange juice shipments.

NEW YORK (CNNMoney) -- The Food and Drug Administration said Friday that it had detained orange juice shipments from Canada after they tested positive for low levels of a banned fungicide previously found in Brazilian juice.

The FDA announced earlier this month that it would begin testing foreign orange juice shipments for the presence of the fungicide carbendazim before allowing them to enter the country. On Friday, the agency said that among 80 shipments from around the world it tested so far, six from Canada and five from Brazil had tested positive.

The samples that have tested positive so far had carbendazim levels of between 10 and 52 parts per billion. The Environmental Protection Agency says carbendazim levels under 80 parts per billion do not raise safety concerns.

Twenty-nine other shipments have tested negative so far, and 15 of those have already been released. Some of these negative tests have come from Canadian and Brazilian shipments, while others came from Mexico, Costa Rica and other countries.

Results are still pending on the rest of the orange juice shipments, as well as on samples from domestic manufacturers.

Brazil accounted for roughly 56% of all U.S. orange juice imports in 2010, shipping over 171 million gallons to the U.S. Canada, by contrast, shipped just 1.6 million gallons, according to the Florida Department of Citrus.

Siobhan DeLancey, a spokeswoman for the FDA, said in a email that it is "hard to tell" when the current testing process will conclude.

"It really all depends on what comes in and what we find," she said.

Coca-Cola (KO, Fortune 500), maker of Minute Maid and Simply Orange, alerted U.S. regulators last month to concerns regarding Brazilian orange juice after it found carbendazim in some of its own products as well as those of competitors.

Carbendazim is is legal in most parts of the world, including Canada, Brazil, Japan, and Europe. In the United States, however, the EPA has not approved its use as a fungicide, and under U.S. law, it's considered an unlawful pesticide chemical residue.

Orange juice futures have shot up on concerns that supply will be constrained by the fungicide concerns, hitting $2.07 a pound for March delivery on the ICE Futures Exchange Friday. To top of page

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