WASHINGTON, D.C. – In case you missed it, this week, Senators Rick Scott and Marco Rubio introduced the Defending Domestic Orange Juice Production Act. The legislation would direct the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to lower the required level of sugar/solids content (brix standard) in not-from-concentrate pasteurized orange juice from 10.5 percent weight of orange juice soluble solids to 10 percent.
U.S. Representatives Mario Díaz-Balart (R-FL), Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-FL), Stephanie Murphy (D-FL), Kat Cammack (R-FL), Daniel Webster (R-FL), Maria Elvira Salazar (R-FL), Darren Soto (D-FL), Al Lawson (D-FL), Bill Posey (R-FL), John Rutherford (R-FL), Gregory Steube (R-FL), Scott Franklin (R-FL), Carlos Gimenez (R-FL), Charlie Crist (D-FL), and Vern Buchanan (R-FL) introduced companion legislation in the U.S. House of Representatives.
Senator Rick Scott said, Florida’s citrus growers work incredibly hard to make sure American families can drink delicious, fresh from Florida orange juice. Unfortunately, growers across our state have faced hardship in recent years due to crop disease and severe weather. I'm proud to join Senator Rubio to introduce legislation which thoughtfully amends citrus standards, keeps healthy Florida orange juice on the shelves and supports the needs of our citrus growers.”
Senator Marco Rubio said, “Forcing the orange juice industry to import and mix juice from foreign oranges to meet an arbitrary FDA standard would mean the end of Florida orange juice. This common sense bill will provide relief to Florida citrus growers and processors who have faced challenges in recent years due to disease and hurricanes, and allow them to continue marketing Florida orange juice.”
Read more from the Lakeland Ledger article, Lawmakers from Florida seek to change FDA rules for sugar levels in juice oranges, below:
“The federal Food and Drug Administration could eventually reduce the amount of naturally occurring sugar required in pasteurized orange juice following the filing of a bill Tuesday by Republican Sen. Marco Rubio from Florida.
The measure would direct the FDA to lower the required level of sugar, known as the Brix standard, in not-from-concentrate pasteurized orange juice from 10.5% to 10%.
Since 1963, the Brix standard has been in effect and has not been modified. Meanwhile, growers have been struggling to keep levels high at a time when sugar levels have been declining because of groves infected by the HLB disease, also known as citrus greening.
The bill, which sponsors called the Defending Domestic Orange Juice Production Act, will go through the committee process before the full House and Senate votes on the measure.
According to Fred Gmitter at the University of Florida's Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences, ‘HLB has made it virtually impossible on an industrywide basis to meet those higher Brix values, to be able to sell their juice.’
According to Matt Joyner, executive vice president and CEO at Florida Citrus Mutual in Bartow, the 0.5 percentage point reduction in sugar level is not significant enough to affect consumer tastes and provides similar nutritional value.
‘We have worked with the FDA to show them that ... from a nutritional standpoint, this is the same healthy product,’ he said.
Joyner also said the bill had strong bipartisan support from Congressional leaders in Florida for an industry that has been struggling lately. Rubio and Rick Scott, Florida's other Republican senator, were the original Senate co-sponsors.
‘Florida’s citrus growers work incredibly hard to make sure American families can drink delicious, fresh from Florida orange juice,’ Scott said in an email.
‘Unfortunately, growers across our state have faced hardship in recent years due to crop disease and severe weather. I'm proud to join Senator Rubio to introduce legislation which thoughtfully amends citrus standards, keeps healthy Florida orange juice on the shelves and supports the needs of our citrus growers.’”
Read the full article in the Lakeland Ledger HERE.