Consumers filed a lawsuit on Thursday alleging that certain popular wines contain high levels of arsenic - up to five times the legal limit for drinking water. Kevin Hicks, the CEO of alcoholic beverage testing company BeverageGrades, told CBS that BeverageGrades' independent lab tests show levels of arsenic above the EPA accepted drinking water threshold of 10 parts per billion in about one out of five of the 1,300 wines it tested.
But does this mean wines like Trader Joe's White Zinfandel or Franzia White Grenache are poisonous?
Gladys Horiuchi of the Wine Institute says there's no need for alarm. She says though the wine with the highest level of arsenic came in at 50 parts per billion, that's still less than the arsenic limits for wine set by the EU and Canada.
"The U.S. does not have an established limit for arsenic - it hasn’t been significant - so the only established limit they have is in drinking water," said Horiuchi. "The E.U. and Canada have established limits and it is 100 parts per billion for arsenic. Most of the people named in the litigation export and obviously meet the international standard limits."
She added that the reason there is an established limit for drinking water is because people consume much more water than they do wine or any other food and beverage products. She called BeverageGrades' statements misleading and irresponsible.
The Wine Institute released a statement that said, "Although we are not privy to the contents of the litigation, we believe this allegation is false and misleading and that all wines being sold in the U.S marketplace are safe ... There is no research that shows that the amounts found in wine pose a health risk to consumers."