A lawsuit filed in Los Angeles Superior Court alleges that 83 wines, most of them inexpensive, showed levels of arsenic above the 10 parts per billion considered safe for drinking water. There is no similar standard for wine.
Arsenic is a naturally occurring element, but can be toxic at elevated levels. The lawsuit specifies inorganic arsenic, which is more dangerous and can cause cancer and kidney and liver damage over time.
Consumers, however, will have to wait through a likely lengthy court battle before learning what levels are safe, said Maureen Gorsen, partner in Alston & Bird’s Environment, Land Use & Natural Resources Group.
“Until the case is all briefed and we have all the evidence, we don’t really know. Maybe some of these products are being unjustly accused,” she said. “But I think there’s a natural reaction by consumers to say, ‘You know, I’ll choose a different product until it all sorts itself out.”