Fungicide in orange juice: What's next?

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First there was arsenic in apple juice, and now fungicide in orange juice. I shudder to think of what food-poison combo is next, and of what toxins are hiding deep within the rest of this country’s food supply, waiting for their moment in the proverbial spotlight.

The Food and Drug Administration announced Wednesday that it would temporarily halt all imports of foreign orange juice. The reason? Apparently, Brazilian orange growers use a fungicide called carbendazim that is banned in this country because it has been linked to increased rates of cancers and infertility.  Not to worry, though: the FDA later insisted that trace amounts of the fungicide are unlikely to pose a public health threat.

Phew! I feel better now.

This latest development is just one more example of what industrial agriculture is doing to our fruits and vegetables, those essential foods that provide us with so many necessary vitamins and minerals.  People often tell me they will “never” buy organic food, either because it is too expensive, or they think it’s all a bunch of baloney. Well, this is the alternative: fungicide in your OJ, chemicals in your body, hysteria at the supermarket.

Until we, the consumer, start demanding more responsible, sustainable growing practices, nothing is going to change. Contaminations will continue, and at alarming rates. The FDA acts like it is doing us a favor by bringing the use of carbendazim in Brazil to our attention, but plenty of other fungicides and pesticides are used on crops every single day. What makes those any safer?

A toxin is a toxin is a toxin.  The math is pretty simple.

Regulators often deem small amounts of harmful ingredients acceptable in things like food and personal care products, but in my opinion, the only permissible level is zero. Compounded over time, small amounts grow larger inside the body.  In all of us, but especially in children, that is a recipe for disaster.

The FDA may have banned imports for now, but there’s plenty of orange juice still on the shelves of stores in this country. It’s more important than ever—but as indispensable as it always should be—to read labels, to know where your food comes from and what’s inside it. It’s the least we can do, for now, until we start demanding more—from our government, from our food growers, and from ourselves.

Deirdre Imus, Founder of the site devoted to environmental health,, is President and Founder of The Deirdre Imus Environmental Health Center™ at Hackensack  University Medical Center and Co-Founder/Director of the Imus Cattle Ranch for Kids with Cancer. She is a New York Times best-selling author and a frequent contributor to, Fox Business Channel and Fox News Channel. 'Like' her Facebook page here.