What’s the Harm in FDA Unnecessarily Testing Orange Juice (Or Anything)?
The FDA has implemented a “test and hold” policy for all incoming orange juice into the United States, looking for evidence (or not) of Carbendazim, a pesticide residue. Yet FDA clearly states that the EPA “has concluded that consumption of orange juice with carbendazim at the low levels that have been reported does not raise safety concerns.” So just to clarify… there are no safety concerns with the presence of Carbendazim in imported orange juice at the detected levels, but FDA has a “test and hold” policy anyway. So why all the big fuss? Consumers are dumping their OJ down the drain because of the possibility that a tiny amount of residue might be found in Orange Juice? Short answer: Yes.
The Problem With Unnecessary Testing
When the FDA so publicly (and unnecessarily) holds and tests all shipments of a product in this way it causes unintended ripple effects. First, FDA is now devoting extraordinary amounts of resources (time/money/equipment/priority) to an issue on which the agency admits no risk to food safety. What’s interesting to note is that of the recent food safety crises in the United States, many involve domestically-produced foods, not foods imported from outside the U.S. This dynamic limits FDA’s ability to effectively control for risk-related food safety issues.
Price inflation results as another consequence of unnecessary FDA testing, due to speculation related to the availability and safety of the subject commodity. Speculation begins, manufacturers pay for increased testing and warehousing, and ultimately the American consumer pays more for that bottle of orange juice when they go to the grocery store. Unnecessary testing on this scale inflates costs on every level.
These unnecessary food safety crises create, worst of all, anxiety among the consuming public, driving otherwise rational consumers into paranoia about the safety of the product when there is little to fear, in the first place. The average American grocery store consumer is not a food safety expert. Indeed, many PhD’s have not even heard of Carbendazim, let alone the average consumer filling their cart at the grocery store. So when you read a headline with the words “All Orange Juice to be Tested” or “Fungicide Found in Orange Juice,” it doesn’t matter what the details are, or how many parts per billion the EPA says is permissible; what matters is that American orange juice consumers are put into crisis-mode the next time they open the refrigerator.
To illustrate the panic created by unnecessary testing for a non-risky residue, simply check the comments on major orange juice brands’ Facebook pages. Facebook, the great sentiment-meter of the masses, has given us these gems, taken from “average Americans” expressing their thoughts of their favorite morning beverages:
My son loves Simply Orange but I will not buy it again until I have proof that it is safe to drink….especially if you are blending juices from foreign countries….
I’m a Tropicana OJ consumer……and just realized they import juice from Brazil. Hence, I’ve decided to check out Simply Orange……UGH! Guess I’m gonna have to squeeze my own oranges……hopefully I can get oranges that have been grown in the USA!
Is this juice part of the OJ ban?
Are your oranges grown with Carbendazim?
Is there or isn’t there a fungicide in the juice & if so why wasn’t there an immediate recall??? You can’t just put on the news that there is a dangerous fungicide in the juice we drink but tell us its ok to still drink it while they look into it for a week or so!! What the heck! Is anyone else concerned? Any information on this issue would be greatly appreciated. This is an orange juice that I love & drink daily. However, as of right now after hearing the possible dangerous fungicide in it, I have stopped drinking it.
Do you test for the fungicide lists in the recall?
I liked this page cause Phil Dunphy was in one of your commercials.
my husband i just checked our tropicana oj in a bottle and saw the juice came from brazil. we spilled it out and won’t be buying any oj that says brazil on the packaging. if tropicana changes to all-U.S. oranges, then we’ll buy it again. however, failing grades to tropicana company for selling tainted, cancer-causing oj to its customers in the first place! consumers have a long memory.
Almost forgot! THANKS Coca-Cola for doing the job of another useless Government agency!
By publicizing its ‘test and hold’ policy on imported orange juice, out of concern for a residue which both FDA and EPA acknowledge isn’t consumed at harmful levels, FDA creates needless havoc among consumers and economic harm to consumers and industry. This nonsense should stop. Instead, FDA should focus on its stated mission of, among other things, actually ‘assuring public safety’ by implementing rational enforcement policy against products that pose real health risks.