Allegations that some of the country’s top selling wines contain dangerous levels of arsenic – including Trader Joe’s “two buck Chuck” – were brought forth via a class-action lawsuit filed in California on Thursday, reports CBS News.
Arsenic, an extremely toxic substance previously found at dangerous levels in children’s apple juice and rice, has been found in some wines reportedly at “four and five times the maximum amount the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) allows for drinking water.”
According to CBS News:
Kevin Hicks started BeverageGrades, a laboratory that analyzes wine, and tested more than 1,300 bottles. Almost a quarter of them had the dangerously high levels of arsenic.
CBS also reports that Hicks also noticed a pattern: “The lower the price of wine on a per-liter basis, the higher the amount of arsenic,” he said to the news outlet.
They included Trader Joe’s famed Two-Buck Chuck White Zinfandel, which came in at three times the limit, a bottle of Ménage à Trois Moscato was four times the limit and a Franzia White Grenache had five times the EPA limit for drinking water.
After reporting his findings to the companies to no avail, Hicks says say he filed a class action lawsuit on Thursday accusing more than 24 California winemakers and sellers of misrepresenting their wine as safe.
CBS reports that a spokesperson for The Wine Group, one of the companies named in the lawsuit, says that Hicks’ testing system is faulty: “It would not be accurate or responsible to use the water standard as the baseline” because people generally drink more water than wine.
Attorney for the plaintiffs, Brian Kabateck said his ultimate goal is “to get the winemakers to recall these wines, to get them to refund the money that people paid for these wines, and ultimately to clean up the wine industry in California.”
Presently, there are almost no federal labeling requirements telling consumers what’s really in their wine.