On March 19, a class action lawsuit claimed that California wineries “knowingly produced, marketed, and sold wine that contained levels of highly toxic arsenic, and failed to warn those buying the wine of the potential danger (Natural Society).” BeverageGrade, an independent testing facility for wine, beer, and spirits, testified that 25% of the investigated wineries did have dangerously high amounts of inorganic arsenic. However, BeverageGrade was not directly involved in the suit, and simply provided analytical services.

Most of the wines included in the lawsuit were low in cost, but does that justify potentially risking consumer well-being? More so, are you sacrificing safety when you want to purchase reasonably priced wine? Although a California trade group referred to potential safety concerns as “false and misleading”, Forbes reports that according to “Kenneth Spaeth, MD, chief of occupational and environmental medicine at the North Shore-LIJ Health System in Great Neck, NY”, we just don’t know yet. So perhaps for now, it is better to err on the side of caution.

Although arsenic is naturally occurring in many foods and water, two types exist: organic and inorganic. Too much inorganic arsenic can lead to poisoning, which causes symptoms that range in severity. Of course these wineries did not intend for such high levels of arsenic to show up in their products, but it is disheartening to see those responsible try to side-step the accusations. Instead those who produce wine should make a greater effort to ensure that their product is as safe as possible, which means ridding the wine of any potential contaminants.

The alarm that has been raised over the safety of these wines is certainly not an overreaction on anyone’s part. It is simply a concern for the health of those who drink California based wine. Instead of trying to suffocate the issue, it should be addressed directly. This is not to say that those who enjoy a regular glass of wine should stop immediately, but rather to take precaution in regards to the quality of what you as an individual are consuming. Studies have shown that there are definitely some health benefits to having a glass of red wine once in a while: such as promotion of lifespan, improved mental health, and cancer protection. But let it be known, it is always a good idea to be cautious about what you are putting into your body!

Sources: 

http://naturalsociety.com/lawsuit-alleges-california-wineries-are-selling-wine-tainted-with-arsenic/

http://www.cnn.com/2015/03/27/living/arsenic-wine-california-lawsuit-feat/

http://www.forbes.com/sites/tarahaelle/2015/03/23/arsenic-and-california-wine-do-you-need-to-worry/

About the Author:

Sofia Schonenberg is an International Studies major at the Johns Hopkins University, where she has been exposed to many perspectives on certain global issues and ideas. Having been a Miami, Florida native, she has also come to appreciate different languages and cultures such as Spanish and German. Growing up in a tropical environment provided a large variety of fresh foods and local farmer’s markets, allowing her to further her education in proper nourishment. She has a strong interest in sustainability, and hopes to aid in the development of better independent farming practices. For more articles by Sofia, click here!

Sofia