Lawsuit Alleges Wineries Failed To Warn Consumers Of Arsenic-Tainted Wine

LOS ANGELES (CBSLA.com) — A proposed class action lawsuit alleges consumers face a serious health threat from dozens of California wineries due to “extremely elevated” levels of poisonous inorganic arsenic, attorneys announced Thursday.

The complaint filed in Los Angeles Superior Court alleges 28 wineries – including popular brands such as Sutter Home, Charles Shaw, and Beringer – are violating state law by knowingly producing, marketing and selling arsenic- contaminated wine and failing to warn consumers about the potential danger.

Plaintiffs Doris Charles, Alvin Jones, Jason Peltier and Jennifer Peltier allege that, in some cases, the wineries produce and market wines that contain “up to 500 percent or more than what is considered the maximum acceptable safe daily intake limit”.

The plaintiffs are seeking unspecified damages and a court order directing the wineries to correct the alleged poor practices.

California Attorney General Kamala Harris could get involved in the suit over the next few weeks.

“It wouldn’t stop me from drinking wine, it would stop me from drinking the wine that has arsenic,” a woman told CBS2/KCAL9’s Kaj Goldberg.

Another man told Goldberg he’d only drink wine listed as organic.

The wines named in the lawsuit are primarily inexpensive white or blush varietals including Moscato, Pinot Grigio and Sauvignon Blanc. Other wine brands identified by the plantiffs are Franzia, Menage a Trois, Wine Cube, Glen Ellen, Cupcake, and Vendage.

“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.”

Odorless, colorless and highly toxic, arsenic is a poison can cause cancer, heart disease and diabetes.

Trader Joe’s, which sells Charles Shaw wine, said in a statement: “The concerns raised in your inquiry are serious and are being treated as such. We are investigating the matter with several of our wine producing suppliers.”

Treasury Wine Estates said its “brands are fully compliant with all relevant federal and state guidelines…”

(©2015 CBS Local Media, a division of CBS Radio Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. Wire services contributed to this report.)

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