RIVERINA Citrus has slammed the decision by Food Standards Australia New Zealand (FSANZ) to reverse its decision that juice and juice concentrate imported from Brazil will no longer be able to contain the fungicide carbendazim.
Only after FSANZ’s Chief Executive had to undergo detailed questioning by Senator Nick Xenophon at a Senate Estimates hearing last night were Riverina citrus growers made aware of this decision.
“Riverina Citrus had previously called on Australian authorities to act to protect consumers following the discovery of the fungicide in imported Brazilian juice products into the United States, and publicly stated our support when FSANZ put the ban in place,” Riverina Citrus Chairman, Frank Battistel said.
“We are shocked and a little disgusted that they reversed the ban, and tried to keep it all very quiet,” he said.
FSANZ had previously announced that oranges and orange juice sold in Australia would not be permitted to contain any carbendazim.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is conducting its own testing of Brazilian orange juice for the fungicide carbendazim to see if the levels present a public health risk.
Studies have found that carbendazim could cause infertility and testicular damage in laboratory animals. It is not used by citrus growers in Australia.
Riverina Citrus Chairman, Frank Battistel, said Brazilian juice concentrate can be found in products on supermarket shelves across Australia and most people would never know they were drinking it due to our lax labelling laws.
“This decision by FSANZ fails to act in the best interests of Australian consumers.
“We wonder when someone is actually going to stand up for the Australian people – growers and consumers – and how it is that the big money of the processing industry can again win out over what is fair, what is right and what the public are demanding,” he said.
“Australian families have a right to know what’s in their food and drink, and where it comes from.
“The only way for consumers to be absolutely confident they are buying a safe, quality product is to make sure that the juice they are buying is 100% Australian grown and produced,” Mr Battistel said.
Source: Argentine Beef Packers S.A.