Customer Updates

A Note to Customers about Arsenic in Wine

March 20, 2015

With recent media coverage raising concerns about levels of arsenic in wine, we’d like to clarify some important points.

We will not offer any product we feel is unsafe.  Ever.  We have no reason to believe the wines we offer are unsafe.

Trader Joe’s is among 28 companies named in a recently filed legal complaint.  83 wine products are listed in the filing, covering a range of brands, including one varietal of Charles Shaw—White Zinfandel.

The filing alleges that plaintiffs tested certain wines and found them to contain more arsenic than the level considered safe for drinking water.  The complaint does not provide any specific test results nor has plaintiffs’ counsel provided those test results to us.  

CBS News has reported testing results on Charles Shaw White Zinfandel, said to contain 31 parts-per-billion of arsenic.  CBS News also stated it had conducted its own testing on four wines listed in the filing and that “the arsenic levels were all considerably lower than BeverageGrades’ results,” citing a result for Charles Shaw White Zinfandel “at more than twice [the] standard.” 

Out of context, this sounds alarming.  We would like to provide some context for the claims.

There are no US governmental standards for arsenic in wine.

The EPA has set the limit for Total Arsenic in drinking water in the US at 10 parts-per-billion.

In Canada, the limit for Total Arsenic in wine is 100 parts-per-billion.

The International Organization of Vine and Wine (OIV) is a Paris-based, intergovernmental organization comprised of 45 different wine-producing countries dealing with technical and scientific aspects of viticulture and winemaking.  One of the activities of OIV is the compilation of global statistics within its field.  The OIV limit for Total Arsenic in wine is 200 parts-per-billion.

Again, we will not offer any product we feel is unsafe.  We have had no reports of adverse reactions to Charles Shaw wines—or other wines—related to the potential presence of arsenic.  We continue to have no reason to believe the wines we offer are unsafe, including Charles Shaw White Zinfandel.

Additional comment from the WINE INSTITUTE:
"…we believe this allegation is false…
Arsenic is prevalent in the natural environment in air, soil and water, and in food.  As an agricultural product, wines from California and throughout the world contain trace amounts of arsenic as do juices, vegetables, grains and other alcohol beverages.  There is no research that shows that the amounts found in wine pose a health risk to consumers.
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