Californian wine hits back at arsenic ‘propaganda’

The body representing Californian winemakers has refuted claims made in a study released this week that said potentially dangerous levels of arsenic are present in nearly all American red wine.

California WinesIn a statement titled “How worried (or not worried) should people be over arsenic in wine?”, the trade body said: “All wines sold in the US are completely safe and consumers should have no concerns about enjoying them.”

It comes after a University of Washington study analysed the arsenic levels in red wine produced in California, Washington state, Oregon and New York.

The study found levels of the poisonous substance that exceed the maximum permitted in drinking water in 64 of the 65 wines tested, with some of them greatly exceeding this limit.

The wine samples showed arsenic levels ranging from 10 to 76 parts per billion, with an average of 24 parts per billion. The US Environmental Protection Agency allows drinking water to contain no more than 10 parts per billion.

However, the Wine Institute of California (WIC) has called the study an example of “propaganda” which is designed to support “financially motivated litigation” – a reference to ongoing civil cases against wine producers over arsenic in their wines.

The WIC argued that authorities in the US, Canada and Europe “regularly test wines for harmful compounds including arsenic to ensure that all wine is safe to consume.”

The methodology of the Washington study was “questionable”, and its findings contradict previous research into arsenic levels in wine, the WIC said.

The research also shows  the levels of lead present in American red wines (Photo: University of Washington)

The research also shows the levels of lead present in American red wines. Washington is repeated with an asterisk to show the only two white wines tested in the study, which reflects the high proportion of whites produced in the state (Photo: University of Washington)

The Liquor Control Board of Ontario tested 2,247 wines from California in 2014, with the data from their tests finding arsenic levels “far below those suggested by the University of Washington study”, the Wine Institute of California said.

The author of the University of Washington research, Denise Wilson, recommended more stringent procedures be put in place in wineries to test for arsenic and other harmful substances in their products.

This too has been questioned by the WIC, which says that American wineries already adhere to “stringent health and safety regulations”.

Arsenic is a naturally occurring element that is toxic to humans, and can cause skin, lung and bladder cancers, as well as other life-threatening diseases.

7 Responses to “Californian wine hits back at arsenic ‘propaganda’”

  1. Monty Preiser says:

    It would be nice to know who paid for the Washington study. If it is indelendent it holds much more weight than the Liquor Board of Ontario, and certainly stands up to the Trade Association’s claims. The Association says the Washington study is quationable. I have been involved in lawsiuts for many years and this is always the claim about any study that is against you. Can the Association be specific about why Washington was questionable? I’ll bet not. All in all, this is a bit scary. The Association should be working with Washington and the lawyers to discover the truth rather than simply fighting it. If the lawyers have the evidence, the Association should look at it and analuze it rather than just attack it. All our health depends on it.

    • Stephen Hawkes says:

      I agree that these articles are incomplete. We know that the lab which produced the controversial results belongs to a man who owns a company called “Beverage Grades,” but the nature of his interest is unclear. The most obvious facts which make the lab’s claims doubtful are the levels of arsenic deemed harmful by Canada and Europe. Apparently Canadians are five times as resistant to arsenic poisoning as Americans, and Europeans are twenty times as tough. Maybe that is why their life expectancy is greater than ours.
      ps. Arsenic is an element. There are no organic elements.

      • szymanskiea says:

        Stephen, there’s not much to wonder about the motives of the owner of the Beverage Grades lab. About a year prior to filing the initial arsenic suit, he began pandering a commercial subscription service to give wine drinkers health “grades” for individual wines, all developed from his lab’s analyses and with the actual data under cover. Unless this man is himself truly and deeply paranoid, his motives appear to be convincing the general consumer that they need his services. The business and his lack of disclosure sent up red flags from the outset, and that same lack of openness with data only became a bigger and more evident problem when he filed the suit.

  2. KenF says:

    First off, if it is grown in the grow it has some level of arsenic is it. Rice, almonds, peaches, apples, etc., all have arsenic in them. Secondly, the reason the EPA is not too concerned with small amounts of arsenic is becasue it is metabolized out of the body. The ability to metabolize arsenic varies from person to person and childern seem to be somewhat less able to metabolize it as quickly as adults. So it isn’t a big deal. This is just a blackmail lawsuit. They will claim hundred of millions (or more) in damages then agree to settle out of court for a lesser amount. I hope the wine industry fights this all the way. The only way these blackmail lawsuits will end is when people stand up to them and flight. Same goes for the Wine Train lawsuit.

  3. Mark Bixler says:

    If you drink as much wine every day as you drink water for every day of your life then your arsenic consumption is probably the least of your problems.

  4. Steve says:

    Research of any type can be punched full of holes by changing a few of the objectives of the analysis to be conducted. As we know with government, the devil is in the details. Washington as a school, is a political bastion and relies on research funding for a number of endeavors.
    I too would like to see the guy doing the research to be sued and under oath testify as to he protocol he used in his test, who paid for the study/tests and the details of the contract he or the school signed to do the research. Finally, what was his compensation and the compensation to the school. Do we all remember Gruber from MIT who worked for Obama on healthcare who received over $8 million?
    I would then be interesting to see who got the rights to the study and took that study to a group of class action attorney’s to file the suit on their nickel with hopes of a huge future return. This reminds me of Ackerman who is shorting Herbalife and sends out statements weekly about how bad Herbalife is in an attempt to drive down the price of his shorted stock in Herbalife.
    I think what this study shows me is that Drinking Water is bad for your health.
    Was a second study done to validate the initial study findings?
    A counter suit should be filed and thus using depositions to get information that would be helpful to the public.
    Remember STUDIES done that said coffee was very bad for you? Now what do they say?
    I am a lawyer and I am here to help you? Or maybe it is Fleece you.

  5. Thank you, Monty Preiser.

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