MANATEE — Local orange growers say the federal government’s probe of tainted imported juice from Brazil could have one of two results. It could scare consumers to the point that they stay away from the breakfast staple entirely or they’ll turn to locally grown products instead. Most are banking on the latter.
“People will be looking for a lot more Florida oranges, which is a good thing,” said Janet Mixon, owner of Mixon Fruit Farms in Bradenton. “Consumers know Florida juice is safe. They trust it.”
Federal regulators halted imports this week of orange juice from all countries after trace amounts of banned fungicide were reported. The Coca-Cola Co., which produces Minute Maid and Simply Orange, confirmed Thursday it was responsible for reporting that low levels of the fungicide carbendazim were found in the company’s orange juice and in competitors’ juice.
The Food and Drug Administration and the Environmental Protection Agency have said orange juice is safe to drink.
Coca-Cola found levels up to 35 parts per billion of the fungicide, far below Europe’s allotted max of 200 parts per billion. Even if consumed, experts say the juice likely wouldn’t have been harmful.
Carbendazim is banned among orange growers in the U.S., but not Brazil, where the tainted juice originated.
Orange growers Thursday said business continues as usual.
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