Free Markets, Free People


Brazilian orange juice banned in US

oranges

Right now there’s a shortage of orange juice in the US because of a number of diseases, especially one called “greening” that has been destroying the crop.

However, there’s an alternative – import Brazilian orange juice

But we can’t:

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration, after several weeks of deliberation, has blocked imports of frozen, concentrated orange juice from Brazil, probably for the next 18 months or so, even though the agency says the juice is perfectly safe.

So if it is admittedly safe and we need the juice to help meet demand (and keep the price down) why can’t we import this juice?  Why can’t we do what is necessary with something the FDA says is safe?

Regulation.

The FDA’s explanation is that its hands are legally tied. Its tests show that practically all concentrated juice from Brazil currently contains traces of the fungicide carbendazim, first detected in December by Coca-Cola, maker of Minute Maid juices. The amounts are small — so small that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency says no consumers should be concerned.

The problem is, carbendazim has not been used on oranges in the U.S. in recent years, and the legal permission to use it on that crop has lapsed. As a result, there’s not a legal "tolerance" for residues of this pesticide in orange products.

So, according to the FDA, any speck of this fungicide, if found in orange juice, is an illegal adulterant and won’t be allowed, even though residues of the same fungicide are allowed in many other foods, including apple and grape juice.

There is no “legal permission” to use the fungicide on the crop because such “permission” has lapsed and thus there is no “legal tolerance” for any residue no matter how benign.  Consequently, because of that lapse the regulatory regime says “no go” on the import of something perfectly safe and in demand.

The result of the unwarranted ban (this orange juice is welcome in Europe, by the way):

In 2010, about 11 percent of all the orange juice consumed in America came from Brazil, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. That share may seem modest, but economist Thomas Prusa of Rutgers tells The Salt that cutting it out could boost wholesale prices of concentrated orange juice by 20 to 45 percent.

So gas prices aren’t the only thing going up soon.  And in the case of orange juice, the price increase can be tied directly to government regulation.

As orange juice goes up by 20 to 45%, who is it that will be hurt the most?  That’s right – the poorest among us who now either have to find a substitute or perhaps forgo the juice altogether.

~McQ

Twitter: @McQandO

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7 Responses to Brazilian orange juice banned in US

  • The FDA…regulating Americans to death since 1906.

  • So, I gather we can expect an orange-juice subsidy for the poor to appear as our savior rushes in to the burning building his administration set fire to and saves the day for his voting bloc, again.

    If only the rich would stop drinking so much orange juice, or….something.

  • … but doesn’t our “Fearless Leader” have a soft spot for Brazil ?

  • I like Ugli Fruit, too bad you can only get it a few months out of the year.

  • Reminds me of the old joke about the difference between the Soviet Union and the US. In the US, that which is not specifically forbidden was allowed, whereas in the Soviet Union anything not specifically allowed was forbidden.

    Which in turn reminds me of the old theory that eventually the US and the SU would evolve into indistinguishable political systems.

    Have a nice day.