Wine Talk

Snooth User: A Oak A

Arsenic in our wine??

Posted by A Oak A, Mar 20, 2015.

There's a big lawsuit in the works right now against a slew of cheap wine producers here in the states.

The suit claims that a number of wineries have failed to get their levels of arsenic under control because it exceeds legal requirements.


Sutter Home....

Menage A Trois....



Glen Ellen....

Just to name a few.

I think the toxic levels mostly apply to lesser rose's and whites that the majority of us on the forum don't consume....but still.

Here's one article.

Here's another.



Reply by JonDerry, Mar 20, 2015.

I always knew additives were an issue with cheaper wines, but never considered arsenic.

Reply by A Oak A, Mar 21, 2015.

Trader Joe's two buck chuck is on the list also. Well....that's what ya get for $2 I guess.

Reply by Patty Sharaf, Mar 21, 2015.

Correct me if I am wrong, but I don't think it's an additive in wine-making;  arsenic occurs sometimes in water that has passed over rocks containing arsenic.  Additionally, if they use chicken poop for fertilizer, the arsenic fed to chickens (to kill flies) would show up, which has become a problem with certain rice fields.



Reply by RoboticWino, Mar 21, 2015.

I know small doses of arsenic over a lifetime have been linked with cancer, but let's be honest, you're probably much more likely to die from the alcohol than the small amounts of arsenic in these wines.

Reply by outthere, Mar 21, 2015.

But, but, but...

Something's gonna kill me eventually, I'd rather it not be hypochondria. 

Reply by Duke Snyder, Mar 21, 2015.

Why do they need Arsenic in wine ???

Reply by Really Big Al, Mar 21, 2015.

I was told that it's really the white wines that are a concern, and that the levels of arsenic are in line with the legal limits that were in effect just a few years ago.  They have tightened up the allowable amount recently.

Reply by outthere, Mar 21, 2015.
Scaremongers Spark Fear Over Arsenic in Wine
Winemakers fume over lawsuit that alleges dangerous levels of arsenic in wine.
By W. Blake Gray | Posted Friday, 20-Mar-2015
"It's the equivalent of yelling fire in a crowded theater when there is no fire and in fact, everything's perfectly safe." 
That's the response of Chris Lehane, a spokesman for The Wine Group, to a grandstanding lawsuit filed Thursday that claimed unhealthy levels of arsenic in California wine. 
The class action, which was filed in the California Superior Court on behalf of four plaintiffs, appears to have little chance of succeeding because there is no established legal standard, either by the state or the US government, for arsenic in wine.
Moreover, the levels of arsenic (up to 50 parts per billion) described as "dangerous" in the lawsuit are half of those considered acceptable in Ontario, Canada, and one-fourth as high as those permitted in Europe and elsewhere by the OIV.
But in the court of public opinion, the accusation has already found a sympathetic ear. CBS News aired a report about the pending lawsuit on Thursday morning, and websites including Eater, Patch and The Business Journals were quick to parrot it. By Friday, who knows how far the "arsenic in California wine, oh my!" story will spread?
The arsenic story originated in the Denver-based laboratory of a man who appears poised to benefit. Kevin Hicks is not named as a party in the lawsuit, but attorneys for the plaintiffs said his lab did tests that showed some wines had arsenic levels higher than those allowed in California for drinking water.
"He went to the wineries. They didn't respond to him," attorney Michael Burg told Wine Searcher. "He wanted them to clean up their act. He issued a press release and nobody read it."
Burg said Hicks brought the data to the attorneys who filed the lawsuit.
On the day it was filed, Hicks' company BeverageGrades issued a press release saying: "BeverageGrades believes that retailers need a screening and certification model that allows them to assure their customers of the purity of all of the alcoholic beverages they sell, and particularly their control or private label brands." This is the service Hicks sells.
Health scare driven by money
"He has direct financial interest in this," Lehane said."This isn't about health concerns. It's about someone's economics."
Interestingly, the suit names only producers of cheap wines, which has several implications.
"The lower the price of wine, the more arsenic you are getting," plaintiffs' attorney David K. TeStelle said." It's also worth noting that these "cheap wine" producers being sued are large wine companies, and the ones with the most assets.
Stephen Cater, director of quality assurance for the Liquor Control Board of Ontario, told Wine Searcher: "In the past year alone, the LCBO quality assurance laboratory tested more than 11,900 wines for arsenic levels, including 1543 wines from California. All of the wines from California that the LCBO lab tested and subsequently offered for sale were below the maximum allowable limit for arsenic. We have not observed elevated arsenic levels in US wines compared to what is found in wines from other regions and countries."
While potentially dangerous, arsenic naturally occurs in soil. It can also be introduced into wine by filtering with bentonite and possibly through pesticide residue.
The US government recently issued limits for arsenic in apple and grape juice, and has standards for it in other food products. Winemaker Larry Brooks told Wine Searcher that the amount of arsenic in wine reported as dangerous in the lawsuit was the same that the Food and Drug Administration recently found was the average for brown rice.
California has a limit of 10 parts per billion of arsenic for drinking water, but Lehane pointed out that most people, including children, drink a lot more water than wine.
The Wine Institute issued a press release Thursday saying: "We are concerned that the irresponsible publicity campaign by the litigating party could scare the public into thinking that wine is not safe to consume, which is patently untrue."
There are no legal requirements for arsenic levels in wine in the US. The guy at the head of the lawsuit s in it to make money fir his company and disguising it as a health issue. Too bad news organizations don't check their facts before running with stories.
Reply by Really Big Al, Mar 21, 2015.

Good article.  I'm going to continue drinking California wine after all.


Reply by dmcker, Mar 21, 2015.

Anybody who knows the legal industry, PR industry, and how many people maneuver to break into any industry via crafty, foxy maneuvering rather than hard, steady work could have predicted that article OT posted.

Would like to hear our Fox's viewpoint. Trolls and nuisance suiters run amok in the US more than many other jurisdictions, as the flipside to a system that is also often good at calling blackhats to accountability...

Reply by EMark, Mar 23, 2015.

Well, I'm glad I missed this fire drill.

Reply by outthere, Mar 27, 2015.

Here are the facts on Arsenic in wine from our friends at UC Davis. Drink up!


I personally would have to drink 5-6 750ml bottles or more of wine every day that had high amounts of the correct type of inorganic arsenic in order to simply reach the daily allowable level of Arsenic in food as set forth by the USEPA.

Reply by Really Big Al, Mar 28, 2015.

Today's posting on CNN.

The U.S. Tax and Trade Bureau regulates the production of alcoholic beverages, and part of this process is testing wine for arsenic, said Erika Holmes, spokeswoman for Washington State University's Viticulture and Enology school.

Even though the FDA has not established a standard for acceptable levels of arsenic in wine, California wine exports are tested and found to be below the established limits for export, Holmes said in an email.

Countries that import California wine also test for arsenic using their own standards: 100 parts per billion in Canada and 200 parts per billion in Europe -- 10 to 20 times higher than the drinking water limit in the United States.

"It's certainly appropriate to look to other countries' regulations for guidance," Sacks said. "Their regulators are presumably looking at the same body of research that U.S. regulators would look to if they were to establish a mandatory limit for wine."

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