Valley wine producers dispute arsenic claim

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Valley wine producers said there is no need to question the safety of a glass of California wine. (KFSN)

Valley wine producers said there is no need to question the safety of a glass of California wine. A class action lawsuit filed in Los Angeles Superior Court claimed high levels of arsenic were found in some samples of low cost wine.

28 California wineries and 83 wines were named in the lawsuit - including popular labels like Sutter Home, Beringer and Charles Shaw. Peterangelo Vallis of the San Joaquin Valley Winegrowers Association said there was no need to throw out any bottles.

Vallis said, "I don't think there's any need to worry about the wine that's inside just as there isn't a need to worry about the water coming out of the municipal water system."

Arsenic is a natural element. It is toxic in high levels. The lawsuit accused winemakers of producing arsenic contaminated wine and failing to warn consumers about potential health hazards.

Attorney Brian Kabateck said, "These wines that contain high levels of inorganic arsenic, these cheap wines ask the question that the consumer may be spending less than $5 for a bottle of wine but they may be paying with their health in the long run."

But Wine Institute spokesperson Nancy Light countered, "We don't think this lawsuit has any merit whatsoever and we think the publicity campaign surrounding it is very irresponsible."

Many Valley growers sell grapes to California wineries. Vallis disputed the findings in the suit. He explained, "The wine is coming from the same soils, the same water that so many different crops are coming from and there is no perceptible arsenic in any of those either."
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