Brix Decision Disappoints Florida Citrus Mutual

Ernie NeffOrange Juice

The federal Food and Drug Administration (FDA) does not agree with Florida Citrus Mutual’s (FCM) request for discretion in enforcing the Brix limit for not-from-concentrate (NFC) orange juice.

In its Oct. 22 Triangle newsletter, FCM reported that it had sought enforcement discretion “to protect growers from the likely contingency that Florida’s 2021-22 orange crop may not meet FDA’s minimum Brix requirement of 10.5 degrees” for pasteurized, or NFC, juice. “As with yield, Brix values have been in decline in recent years,” the Triangle reported. “Last season, Brix values for Florida’s orange crop were the lowest in 15 years — with the average hitting just at 10.5 degrees.”

“Last week we received a response from FDA in which they suggested enforcement discretion was not the most appropriate solution to our problem and offered alternative options for consideration,” The Triangle reported. “While none of their suggestions are viable, FCM has already initiated a legislative strategy to reverse FDA’s initial response and/or authorize an acceptable remedy (including enforcement discretion).”

“Certainly, we were all disappointed with FDA’s response,” said FCM President Glenn Beck. He added that he has confidence in the ability of FCM and the Florida Citrus Processors “to find a workable solution.”  

The Triangle reported that Florida’s congressional delegation is expected to make an official follow-up request with FDA and support the Florida citrus industry’s effort. “Senators Marco Rubio and Rick Scott and USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack have indicated their support for the request as well,” the Triangle article added.

The Triangle noted that when processors don’t have higher Brix fruit for blending to meet minimum NFC requirements, “low Brix fruit is necessarily diverted into concentrate. Low Brix oranges create a financial burden for both growers and processors … Growers are paid less due to their lower pound solids at delivery, and processors who need the fruit for NFC must cover processing needs with higher Brix juice brought in from other production areas.”

Source: Florida Citrus Mutual’s Triangle newsletter

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