Florida Citrus Mutual President Glenn Beck and Executive Vice President/CEO Matt Joyner recently met with members of Florida’s congressional delegation and others in Washington to highlight issues important to Florida citrus.
The need for federal Food and Drug Administration (FDA) action on lowering the Brix level was one focus of the meetings. Beck and Joyner met with U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio and U.S. Reps. Vern Buchanan, Mario Diaz Balart, Scott Franklin, Darren Soto and Debbie Wasserman Schultz.
Mutual reported that Wasserman Schultz addressed Robert Califf, commissioner of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), regarding the Brix requirements during a virtual meeting of the Subcommittee on Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration, and Related Agencies.
In that virtual meeting, Wasserman Shultz said pests, diseases and hurricanes “have resulted in a natural decline in the Brix level for Florida’s mature oranges. In fact, for most of the last citrus season, Florida oranges did not meet the federal minimum standard of 10.5 Brix.”
Wasserman Shultz called on FDA “to work directly with Florida citrus growers and processors to find a solution, which should include providing additional flexibility by modernizing requirements to account for the naturally occurring Brix variation.” She said failure to do so will result in the industry losing out to imports from Brazil and Mexico “and worsening our trade deficit.”
Florida Citrus Mutual has previously sought enforcement discretion to protect growers when oranges don’t meet FDA’s minimum Brix requirement for not-from-concentrate (NFC) orange juice. Mutual pointed out that when processors do not have higher Brix fruit for blending to meet the minimum NFC requirements, low Brix fruit is necessarily diverted into concentrate. Low Brix oranges create a financial burden for both growers and processors while also leading to higher prices for consumers.
Source: Florida Citrus Mutual
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