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Orange Juice May Not Officially Be Recalled, but Still Could be Dangerous

The United States Food and Drug Administration has not recalled orange juice from the market despite the fact that testing for low levels of fungicide demonstrated that the juice was contaminated. Nevertheless, our Illinois personal injury attorneys are urging consumers to be cautious.

According to reports by the Associated Press, the Coca-Cola Company, a large-scale bottled-juice and soda conglomerate, was the corporation that alerted federal regulators about the low levels of fungicide in its own orange juice and in competitors’ juices, prompting juice prices to rise and increasing government testing for the residue.

Coca-Cola, an American-based company, makes the Minute Maid brand and Simply Orange brand of orange juice; this past Thursday, Coca-Cola notified the FDA of elements of the fungicide carbendazim in both the company’s orange juice and in competitors’ juices.

Carbendazim is a chemical intended to control plant diseases in human foodstuffs, such as cereals and fruits. Recent studies have shown that high doses of carbendazim have caused infertility and destroyed the genitals of laboratory animals. According to the Associated Press, the FDA said Coca-Cola found levels up to 35 parts per billion of the fungicide, which is far below the European Union’s maximum residue level of 200 parts per billion. Despite Europe’s set parameters, the American government has not yet established a maximum residue level for carbendazim in orange juice, though the Environmental Protection Agency has suggested that a concentration of less than 80 parts per billion raises no concern. Carbendazim is not currently approved for use on citrus in the United States, but it is used to combat mold on orange trees in Brazil, which exports orange juice to the United States.

The Food and Drug Administration and the Environmental Protection Agency have said that, after testing, orange juice is safe to drink and the levels found are below levels of concern. The FDA is not releasing the names of the brands of juices that tested positive for carbendazim.

At this point, the FDA has declared that it does not plan to remove any juice products that are currently on store shelves. Still, because carbendazim is not approved for use in the United States, any food that contains even trace amounts is considered illegal. As it currently stands, the FDA is now testing shipments of orange juice at the border and will detain any that contain more than 10 parts per billion of the chemical; said the Associated Press, any amount below 10 parts per billion isn’t measurable. Additionally, FDA official Nega Beru asked the industry to ensure that suppliers in Brazil, the world’s largest orange producer, and other countries stop using the fungicide.

Our Chicago food poisoning attorneys know that, according to 2010 estimates by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention(CDC), each year roughly 48 million people are sickened by a foodborne illness. Even worse, over 125,000 people require hospitalization and 3,000 die after consuming contaminated foods in their homes or in restaurants.

When a food manufacturer or distributer disseminates an infected or poisonous food product to the public and a consumer is sickened or injured as a result, that company may be held legally responsible and may be made to pay for damages that result from the injury.

People who suffer serious personal injury, hospitalization, or even death due to food poisoning may be able to seek compensation for economic and non-economic damages. Our Illinois food poisoning lawyers have experience representing clients in similar cases, including having won a $4 million settlement for three convention attendees who contracted salmonella poisoning that caused them to suffer crippling arthritic injuries.