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Arsenic Found In California Wine, Industry Speaks Out

Mar 30, 2015

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Valley grape growers and winemakers are responding to a new lawsuit that claims many lower priced California wines contain too much arsenic. Valley Public Radio’s Ezra David Romero reports.

Popular California wines like the so-called “Two-Buck Chuck” sold at Trader Joes are the subject of the suit. It alleges commercial lab tests found arsenic levels exceeding the levels allowed in drinking water in over two dozen California wines. The plaintiffs claim the wines could pose a health risk.

Mike Burg is one of the plaintiff’s attorneys.

BURG:  “We’re saying this is a safety risk, it’s a health risk, the public needs to know. Why don’t they want the public to know how much arsenic in their wine.”

But wine industry leaders like Bobby Koch, with the Wine Institute, say the allegations are false.

KOCH: “We view this as an attack on the entire California wine industry.”

Many food products contain traces of arsenic, which is an element that can be found in the soil and in water. The Food and Drug Administration doesn’t have a standard on the maximum amount of arsenic that’s safe in wine.

Nat DiBuduo is the president of Allied Grape Growers representing 600 California grape farmers.

DIBUDUO: “I think it’s going to regretfully affect the overall market of lower priced wines and it tarnishes the wine market as far as I’m concerned for California wines”

The source of the arsenic is unclear, but DiBuduo says contamination may have come from grapes purchased overseas.