3 more orange juice imports positive for fungicide, FDA says

The Food and Drug Administration said Thursday three additional shipments of imported orange juice tested positive for a fungicide not approved for use on oranges in the US, bringing the total number of detained or refused shipments to 27.

Of the three most recent samples found positive for the fungicide carbendazim, two were from Brazil and one was from the Dominican Republic. Of the other 24 shipments, 12 came from Brazil and 12 from Canada.

Since the FDA began to sample imports on Jan. 4, a total of 106 shipments have been tested, of which 78 came back negative and 63 have been released for US consumption. The remaining shipments are pending US government approval over issues unrelated to the fungicide.

FDA officials said they began testing all orange juice imports shortly after Coca-Cola Co. reported finding the fungicide in juice it imported from Brazil.

Frozen concentrate futures on the ICE Futures US exchange soared to all-time highs of $2.27 a pound on Jan. 23. The FDA began testing shipments as traders began worrying that the government could ban juice from Brazil, which supplies the country with half its imports.

The front-month contract for orange juice on ICE has since fallen from its record high to settle at $1.93 a pound on Thursday.

Carbendazim is considered safe for dozens of other crops sold in the US, including apples, cherries and bananas.