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The European Commission has said it will review the US testing of orange juice imports from Brazil following an alert by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) that it is examining imports for traces of a fungicide banned in the US.

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A spokesperson for the Commission told just-drinks today (13 January), that the European Union standing committee on food chain and animal health will discuss the US results of the testing for the fungicide carbendazim in its meeting next week. "Member states will be informed in a next Standing Committee of the US results on carbendazim and might test in a targeted way the orange juice/concentrate imported from Brazil," the spokesperson said.

While no European country has halted imports, orange juice with concentrations of carbendazim of greater than 0.2mg per kg can not enter Europe.

The spokesperson added: "At this stage, the Commission does not recommend to the member states to increase significantly the tests on this product imported from Brazil".

On Monday, the FDA published a letter written to the Juice Products Association in which it said that an unnamed juice company had contacted it in late December to alert the watchdog about low levels of the fungicide carbendazim in the company's own orange juice and in its competitors.

In Brazil, the fungicide is used legally to combat an orange tree mould called black spot. However, carbendazim has not been approved for use on citrus in the US.

On Tuesday, the watchdog temporarily suspended US imports of orange juice after The Coca-Cola Co admitted to having found the fungicide in its supplies from Brazil. In a statement, Coca-Cola said it always "strives to ... comply with all laws and regulations".

"When we discovered that some Brazilian growers had sprayed their trees with a fungicide that was not registered for use in the US, we quickly notified the FDA of our findings," the US soft drinks firm said. "We expect any responsible company would have done the same. This is an industry issue that affects every company that produces products in the US using orange juice from Brazil."

A spokesperson for The Brazilian Association of Citrus Exporters (CitrusBR) told just-drinks that a preliminary risk assessment carried out by the FDA and the US Environmental Protection Agency found that the "consumption of orange juice with carbendazim at low levels that have been reported does not raise safety concerns".

Brazil accounts for around 85% of orange juice global exports.

While orange juice futures jumped by around 17% in the first two days of this week over concerns the FDA's probe might limit imports from Brazil, prices settled at US$1.78 per pound in trading today.


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