Drink Any of These Wines, Imperial Valley? They Contain Poisonous Arsenic, Class-Action Suit Alleges



Many popular, inexpensive brands of wine made and distributed in California contain illegal and dangerously high levels of poisonous inorganic arsenic, according to a lawsuit filed Thursday in Los Angeles.

Plaintiffs Doris Charles, Alvin Jones, Jason Peltier and Jennifer Peltier allege in their proposed class-action Los Angeles Superior Court complaint that dozens of wineries are violating state law by knowingly producing, marketing and selling arsenic contaminated wine and failing to warn consumers about the potential danger. The suit seeks unspecified damages and a court order directing the wineries to correct the alleged poor practices.

Some of the popular wine brands named in the lawsuit include Franzia, Menage a Trois, Sutter Home, Wine Cube, Charles Shaw, Glen Ellen, Cupcake, Beringer and Vendage. The wines named in the lawsuit are primarily inexpensive white or blush varietals including Moscato, Pinot Grigio and Sauvignon Blanc.

“These wineries have long known about the serious health risks their products pose to customers,” plaintiffs’ attorney Brian Kabateck said. “Yet instead of reducing the exposure to acceptable levels, the defendants recklessly engage in a pattern and practice of selling arsenic-tainted wine to California consumers.”

In response to the suit, representatives for Trader Joe‘s– which sells the popular Charles Shaw wine known as “two buck Chuck”– told CBS News that “…the concerns raised in your inquiry are serous and are being treated as such. We are investigating the matter with several of our wine producing suppliers.”

Treasury Wine Estates representatives told the news agency that their “…brands are fully compliant with all relevant federal and state guidelines…”

Arsenic is an odorless, colorless and highly toxic poison known to cause illness and death when ingested. Some of the long-term health effects of arsenic exposure include various types of cancer, cardiovascular disease and diabetes, medical experts say.

The 28 California wineries accused in the lawsuit “produce and market wines that contain dangerously high levels of inorganic arsenic, in some cases up to 500 percent or more than what is considered the maximum acceptable safe daily intake limit,” the lawsuit alleges.