Develop a Safe Standard for Arsenic Levels in Wine

Wine Bottles

Target: Robert Koch, CEO of the Wine Institute

Goal: Create a low-level standard for the amount of arsenic in wine.

High levels of inorganic arsenic were found in wine from as many as 28 California wineries, a Denver-based lab claims. While the allegations still have yet to be proven, there is not only concern about health effects, but also about a lack of regulation and standards for wine. Water is the only beverage with a standard for arsenic levels, and a different standard needs to be developed for wine in order to accurately determine arsenic levels.

Lower-priced wines like Trader Joes’ Charles Shaw, Franzia, Sutter Home’s, and Flip Flop are among the 28 involved with this lawsuit. The accuser alleges that these wine producers aren’t implementing the proper methods and processes to reduce arsenic in wine, which is partly what makes the wine so cheap.

Additionally, 23 of the 83 wines listed in the lawsuit were made by winemakers who are supposedly certified sustainable by the California Sustainable Winemaking Association (CSWA). The certification requirements for sustainable wines are much looser than organic. The CSWA doesn’t discourage pesticides and inorganic fertilizers and wineries must only self-report their efforts at continuous improvement. Unregulated winemaking practices leave a lot of room for toxic substances to get into the finished product.

Continuous ingestion of wine with high levels of arsenic, even as little as two glasses a day, is dangerous for your health. Arsenic poisoning can cause damage to the central and peripheral nervous systems, as well as the liver and kidneys. Over time, exposure to high levels of arsenic is known to cause cancer. Though the levels in these wines aren’t high enough to cause panic, many people drink wine every day, especially if the wine is cheap. A small amount of arsenic exposure every day for years is quite a health risk.

Because there is no state or federal standard for arsenic levels in wine, the lab tested the California wines based on the Environmental Protection Agency’s standard for water. This standard is based on the assumption that people ingest more water than they might wine. Wine needs its own standard for a safe, low level of arsenic, and producers will need to better their practices in order to comply. Sign this petition to let the Wine Institute know that it needs to develop a safe standard for arsenic levels in wines.


Dear Mr. Koch,

Recently, many popular wines were alleged to contain high levels of arsenic. This is a public health concern, because many people drink alcoholic beverages like beer and wine every day, and arsenic is extremely toxic. There is no federal standard for arsenic levels in wine, and this clearly needs to be addressed.

The defendants in this lawsuit claim that the producers of these cheap wines are cutting corners when it comes to reducing arsenic levels. Some pesticides and fertilizers can introduce inorganic arsenic. Arsenic is naturally found in the soil, but responsible production and preventative measures can ensure this toxic chemical doesn’t get into the wine.

A standard for arsenic levels in wine needs to be developed in order to protect people from ingesting high levels of the poison. Regulations and a set low-level standard would encourage more responsible winemaking practices, and then arsenic wouldn’t be a concern at all.


[Your Name Here]

Photo Credit: isaachsieh via Flickr

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