Arsenic in Wine: Why the FDA Needs to Take Action

After a long week of school and work, the last thing on a college kid’s mind is a fancy, expensive glass of wine. Instead, we tend to opt for the cheaper wine, like Franzia or Trader Joe’s Two-Buck Chuck, to satisfy our weekend thirst. Though the price is good, the consequence that comes with consuming such delicious cheapness could be potentially deadly.

Believe it or not, the consequence is not the extra calories, but instead it is the carcinogenic chemical, arsenic, that you are consuming in amounts that are way above the legal.

Now, what exactly is arsenic? It sounds kind of scary, but it’s actually found in a lot of the things we eat and drink every day. Low levels of it are found in soil, water and in the air. Foods such as fish and rice also contain arsenic.

Even at low levels, arsenic can be potentially dangerous. Long-term exposure of these lower levels can play a role in diabetes, cancer, vascular disease and lung disease. The FDA says that long-term exposure of high level arsenic is associated with skin, bladder and lung cancer, and even heart disease.

The problem with the high amount of arsenic in cheap wine is that college kids aren’t consuming it in small servings. When a college student buys a box of Franzia, they aren’t putting it in the center of the dining room table for everyone to have small glasses of wine at dinner. Instead, these boxes are getting finished by a single student in one weekend. Binge drinking has always been an issue among colleges in the nation, but the fact that there is a high amount of a carcinogenic chemical in this alcohol makes it just that much worse.

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TaintedWine.com is a website that attorneys have created to inform people about which specific wine brands contain way too much arsenic. Wines such as Franzia, Korbel, Two-Buck Chuck and Charles Shaw have up to five times the amount of arsenic that’s considered safe. According to the Tainted Wine website, some wines have up to 500% or more than what’s considered the maximum safe daily intake limit for arsenic.

Now the biggest question here is: how the heck did it get to this point? If there are legal limits on the level of arsenic in our water, how did the level of arsenic in wine get so out of hand? According to modernfarmer.com, the FDA does not test for arsenic in wines. They are only in charge of monitoring how much is in our drinking water. Since they don’t check these levels in our cheap wine, they are technically not breaking any laws.

The fact that the FDA can overlook such a thing is outrageous. Long-term consumption of even low levels of arsenic can lead to health problems, while some cheap wines have 500% more than what’s considered safe, should be enough to get the attention of the FDA. Laws need to be made and standards need to be set so we can safely consume our favorite beverages.

It is great that winemakers are being brought to court for a recall or labeling that informs customers of the high level of arsenic, but is the focus should be on the FDA. They have the responsibility to keep the people of the United States safe. This needs to change to prevent major health issues across the country.

Sources:

http://www.livescience.com/23304-arsenic-rice-fda-health-effects.html

http://www.buzzfeed.com/azeenghorayshi/the-arsenic-in-your-two-buck-chuck-is-not-going-to-kill-you#.fyLdMabKM

http://www.taintedwine.com

http://modernfarmer.com/2015/03/sure-your-cheap-wine-may-have-high-levels-of-arsenic-but-is-that-dangerous

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