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Is Your Orange Juice Safe?

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- Low levels of a banned pesticide found in orange juice imported from Brazil is safe for sale in the domestic supply, says the Food and Drug Administration after conducting new tests.

The juice, which is stored in huge, three-story high tanks in Florida, is tainted with the fungicide carbendazim, and will soon reach American grocery stores.

"In this case, we've been really cautious in working with EPA to insure that these residues are posing no safety concern," Michael Taylor, deputy director of the FDA, said Thursday.

The FDA has said that the juice is entirely safe to drink and that the amount of the fungicide in the contaminated OJ is far below unsafe levels. To test positive for the pesticide, orange juice samples had to contain at least 10 parts per billion of the pesticide.

Carbendazim has been found to cause birth defects in rodents and some chromosome problems in human cells in laboratories. However, it hasn't been found to have any health effects for humans. Carbendazim is a pesticide used to kill fungus and fungal spores. It is not approved for use on oranges in the U.S., but is lawful in other countries.

Studies show no risks of consuming carbendazim at up to 80 parts per billion, and that actual levels of danger are thousands of times higher, the Environmental Protection Agency said.

"FDA is confident that orange juice in the United States may be consumed without concerns about its safety due to the possible presence of such residues," said a statement on the agency's website.

The American juice processors are not being asked to clean the tanks, as the FDA says it will let the fungicide wash its way out of the storage system, along with the orange concentrate and onto store shelves over next few weeks.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

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