Lawsuit Claims High Levels of Arsenic Found in Popular California Wines

A class action lawsuit has been filed in California claiming that some of the most popular wines contain high levels of arsenic
Lawsuit Claims High Levels of Arsenic Found in Popular California Wines
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‘I detect elements of oakiness, cherry, and… poison?’

You may want to do an early spring cleaning of your wine cabinet. A class action lawsuit has been filed in California, claiming that many of the nation’s most popular wines, including Trader Joe's Two-Buck Chuck White Zinfandel, Franzia Blush and Ménage à Trois Moscato, contain up to five times the legal limit of arsenic allowed in drinking water. In case you’re fuzzy with your high school chemistry: arsenic is a “highly-poisonous” metalloid element.

Kevin Hicks, a wine distributor, started his own wine-testing business, BeverageGrades, 15 years ago, according to CBS News, and began testing the contents of various popular wines. What he found was appalling. Out of nearly 1,300 individual bottles, nearly one-quarter of the bottles contained levels of arsenic higher than the EPA standards for drinking water. As a result, Hicks has filed a class action lawsuit against 24 California winemakers and sellers for misrepresentation of safety.

“The industry, we believe, is not properly regulated, but the state of California has recognized that 10 parts per billion is a dangerous amount,” attorney Brian Kabateck told CBS News. “The lower the price of wine, the higher the level of arsenic.”

One of the worst offenders contained 50 parts per billion of arsenic, creating a wine and poisonous element cocktail that could be deadly over time, said Hicks.

Understandably, the wine companies are not pleased. The Wine Group, one of the companies targeted in the lawsuit, has stated that, “It is not accurate or responsible to use the water standard as the baseline,” because wine and water are, chemically, two very different liquids.  

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