Some of the country's cheapest and thus most beloved wines, including varietals (lol, "varietals") of Franzia and Charles Shaw (the latter also known as Two- or Three-Buck Chuck) have been found to contain, a new lab report says, as much as five times the allowable concentration of arsenic. But does that really matter?
Arsenic is a heavy metal, naturally occurring in soil and water, though it’s also a byproduct of some manufacturing. Some plants, most notably rice, are known to pull in arsenic along with water and other nutrients, making the final edible product fairly high in arsenic. Drinking water has varying levels of arsenic around the world, and most countries have some kind of legal limit on how much arsenic is allowed; in the United States, it’s 10 parts per billion, which is more than is allowed in, say, Australia (and even, thanks to state laws, in New Jersey), but significantly less than is allowed in other heavily populated countries like China and India.
But that hasn’t stopped BeverageGrades from filing suit against the winemakers, arguing for, if not a recall, at least some labeling that informs the customer that the wine within has high levels of arsenic. Who knows if the lawsuit will succeed, or even if it should —but having more information certainly couldn’t hurt the consumer. Not as much as arsenic poisoning, anyway.