Wednesday, January 11, 2012
IS OUR ORANGE JUICE TOXIC?
And it's not just a nutritional issue. Orange juice has recently hit the food safety headlines. The focus is on a fungicide called carbendazim which is used to fight blossom blight and black spot, a type of mold that grows on orange trees - as well I know. I have problems with this mold every year - not just on my orange trees, but also the lemon, grapefruit and lime trees. Unfortunately, there is also some evidence to show that carbendazim may be linked to increased rates of cancers and infertility - like many pesticides. That is, if you are exposed to it in sufficiently large quantities over a long-enough period of time.
Carbendazim is widely used in Brazil - the world's top exporter of orange juice. In the past few years more of this fungicide is being used on Brazilian orange crops because black spot has become a major problem. Of course, traces of it end up in the juice. What do you expect? No washing of oranges is really good enough.
If you drink U.S. orange juice you are likely to be safe from it because this fungicide has been banned in the U.S. since 2008. In fact, most of U.S. orange juice is made from domestic oranges from Florida. However, brands such as Tropicana, from PepsiCo Inc, and Minute Maid, from Coca-Cola Co., may use a mix of juices sourced from Brazil (which is our top external supplier) and/or Mexico, and the United States. In fact, I found the news early this morning while researching Coca-Cola stock, wondering why it was down quite heavily. That explained it.
So how much of this pesticide in our juice is too much, given that many Americans drink a glass of orange juice every morning? Opinions vary and so do standards among different countries. Surprisingly, the EU allows quite high levels (up to 200 ppb). In the U.S., the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has ramped up testing for carbendazim in imported juices and also quarantined any imported orange juice that's on its way here, until we find out more.(It seems that at least some juice from Canada has been cleared, since levels were found to be very low).
Meantime, the orange juice futures traders are keeping busy with the ups and downs in price (it's a small and volatile market).
To your good health,