Fungicide found in US Orange Juice

I’d like to bring this story to everyone’s attention because very few people understand what impact the importation of foods can have on their health.

In the US, the FDA (Food and Drug Administration) have begun testing orange juice imported from Brazil for the potentially harmful fungicide carbendazim. This fungicide is NOT approved for use in food production in the US, but is legally used in Brazil to combat black spot (a type of mold that grows on orange trees).

A US juice company found low levels of this fungicide in juice they were testing and then alerted the FDA. If the batches exceed allowed limits it will be destroyed. What if they DIDN’T test the orange juice? How many other possible contaminations slip through the system unnoticed?

WHO/FAO Joint Meeting on Pesticide Residues (JMPR) evaluated the toxicology of carbendazim and in its 2005 review found “…that carbendazim is a developmental toxicant and teratogen (can cause malformations of an embryo of a foetus) in rats.”

However, they concluded that there was a very low risk of acute poisoning in humans (as if anyone’s going to drink the stuff) and is therefore safe to use. I guess they didn’t consider:

  1. Chronic exposure through diet
  2. Poor detoxification pathways of certain individuals
  3. Low levels of nutrients (due to Western lifestyle factors) affecting the body’s coping mechanism for dealing with more chemicals

A bit disappointing that this chemical is still being used in Australia on:

  • roses
  • bananas
  • strawberries
  • ginger seed pieces (pre-planting)
  • sugar cane setts (pre-planting)
  • pasture
  • red/subterranean clover
  • chickpeas
  • faba beans
  • lentils
  • vetch
  • macadamias
  • timber preservation
  • onion bulbs (post-harvest for seed production only)
  • pyrethrum (used to make natural insecticides)
  • mungbeans
  • mushrooms (once only per crop)

So just because a certain chemical used in food production is banned in your country, it doesn’t mean you’re not being exposed to it. Take note where your food comes from and make informed choices.

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