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Bactericides, such as oxytetracycline and streptomycin, are approved for use on a variety of agricultural food crops, including Florida Citrus. After extensive safety evaluation, both the Environmental Protection Agency and the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services have approved these bactericides as a tool to be used to combat citrus greening disease, also known as huanglongbing (HLB), a continued challenge faced by the industry. Florida Citrus growers work with both agencies to comply with all regulations and meet standards for human, plant, animal and environmental health and safety. Bactericides are just one tool in the toolbox. Not all Florida growers use these tools, but those that do use them in strict adherence to restrictions set by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) with safety as the number one priority.

Is 100% orange juice safe to drink?

Yes. Both the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (FDACS) have evaluated bactericides for safety and continue to monitor the use in groves to ensure proper application is upheld. Florida Citrus growers work to provide safe, nutritious product for consumers by following all regulations set by EPA and FDACS.

Why do Florida Citrus growers want to use these bactericides?

The Florida Citrus industry continues to combat HLB or citrus greening, which is a disease spread by an insect that interferes with the tree’s ability to take in nutrition, causing the fruit to be misshapen and fall from the tree prematurely. Florida Citrus growers are doing all they can to continue to produce the high-quality citrus Florida is known for, exploring a wide range of solutions. Bactericides are one of many tools in a toolbox of potential solutions available to citrus growers to help combat the disease.

Different soil conditions, maturity of trees, and other factors make some pest and disease control tools successful for some groves and not others, meaning not all growers will choose to use these specific tools. In the effort to combat citrus greening, it is important our growers have a variety of options so they can continue to provide Florida Orange Juice to consumers.

What information are Florida Citrus growers required to report?

After extensive evaluation by expert groups and government agencies in the U.S. and internationally, EPA and FDACS determined these bactericides are safe and available for general use by growers. This categorization of general use means growers are not required to register for use of these crop protection tools or report usage. Growers are required to follow instructions and regulations as outlined on labels. EPA and FDACS monitor groves to uphold proper usage.

Any information available on usage is electively given by growers and is subject to change. Our Florida Citrus growers are constantly trying new solutions in their groves to keep groves as healthy as possible, keeping consumer safety as the top priority.

How are these bactericides regulated and tested?

To ensure safety, the EPA sets tolerances for pesticide and bactericide levels in commodities like citrus. The EPA tolerances for residues are set 100 to 1,000 times lower than levels at which health impact might occur. These tolerance levels are considered safe based on average daily food intake by adults and children.

Modern analytical techniques detect levels of pesticides at increasingly minute levels, and as a result, most analyses are now expressed in parts per billion (ppb), versus parts per million (ppm).

Where can I learn more about citrus greening disease?

With more than 90% of Florida Oranges grown to become 100% orange juice, citrus greening has had a profound effect on the orange juice industry. You can learn more about citrus greening on our Citrus 411 page.

Where else can I learn more?

You can learn more from our partner the International Food Information Council Foundation.

For additional questions, please contact Samantha Lane (SLane@citrus.myflorida.com) or Shelley Rossetter (SRossetter@citrus.myflorida.com).