It seems today’s media is full of alarming articles about arsenic, pesticides and herbicides in food and wine:Basic Hi Res New Logo
From California , a lawsuit citing unhealthful levels of arsenic in low-priced, high volume wines.
From France, there are cautionary articles reporting of forced pesticide use and measurable pesticide levels in French wines. [See NYT1 and NYT2]
From Central America, Sri Lanka, and India there is an epidemic of kidney disease linked to multi-decade herbicide use that combines with arsenic and heavy medals (think pristine, weed-free vineyard landscapes…). [See GRCA]
So what is the reality, and what is the hype?
Pragmatically, media sources are businesses selling both information and advertising. Print and broadcast journalists spice up their articles to sell content and attract readership. Editors and producers seeking greater market share, may orient their headlines towards the sensational.
Here we’ll briefly address the issues of arsenic, pesticides and herbicides in your food and wine. Beyond possible sources of the arsenic in your wine, and we’ll provide some considerations in sourcing your wines to avoid these compounds. We’ll also touch on sustainable farming, and the pluses (and yes minuses) of Organic farming.
OK the arsenic – so where is this claimed arsenic in inexpensive California wine likely coming from?
It’s “inorganic” – arsenic combined with IPTV server elements other than carbon, as opposed to biological “organic” – arsenic combined with carbon and other elements.
Inorganic arsenic generally comes from man-made e.g. industrial sources including mining, smelting, pesticides, pre-2003 Chromated Copper Arsenate (CCA) treated wood building materials, etc. That said, organic and inorganic chemistry relates to living and non-living matter respectively, and is quite a complex topic, and the distinctions between the two are sometimes unclear.
Arsenic is an semi-metallic element found in nature, and also in man-made products, including some pesticides. Low levels can be found in soil, water, and air. The element is taken up by plants as they grow as a result, it can make its way into our food e.g. fruits, vegetables, and grains we consume per the FDA. Seafoods can contain less-toxic organic arsenic – which the FDA considers essentially harmless.
Arsenic does not build up in the body, and studies indicate it can leave your system in a day or two, once consumption stops. [See ACC] Of course intuitively, this means if you’re continuously exposed to it on a daily basis, it is always in your system. The EPA allows for arsenic in drinking water at 10 parts per billion (ppb).
Some of the low-priced wines in question had how to live stream 3-5 times the EPA drinking water standard which is a very low amount – but some folks question if any amount is “too much.” The Canadian level of arsenic allowed in wine is 100 parts per billion, 10 times the US EPA water standard.
The lawsuit’s lead attorney, Brian Kabateck states “”Out of 1,306 tests only 83 came back, [high]“ he said. “We know that the vast majority of the wine business is safe. If you’re spending $20 on a bottle of wine you’re not going to have concerns most likely.”
The arsenic in your wine is likely coming from mineral based fining agents used to accelerate the clarification of wine at the molecular level – to make the wine “crystal clear.”