Popular, low-cost wines contain high levels of arsenic, lawsuit claims

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(PIX11) -- A class action lawsuit filed on Thursday claims some of the top-selling, low-cost wines produced by dozens of wineries in California contain “very high levels of arsenic,” a chemical known to cause cancer.

Varieties of wines including Trader Joe’s Two-Buck Chuck White Zinfandel, Franzia White Grenache and Menage a Trois Moscato had three and five times the amount of arsenic the EPA allows in drinking water, the lawsuit alleges.

The complaint alleges 28 different wineries have high levels of arsenicbut are not appropriately warning the public about possible dangers.

The wines named in the lawsuit are mostly low-end white or blush wines that cost less than $10. The wines were tested for arsenic by BeverageGrades lab, which looked at more than 1,300 wines. Nearly 83 had high levels of arsenic, according to the lawsuit.

Arsenic is a carcinogen that can lead to serious health problems. Dr. Nancy Simpkins told PIX11 News, "Arsenic is dangerous. it will cause skin lesions in people and at the very worse it will call fatal malignancies."

The lawyer filing the suit said his goal is to get the wines recalled and “clean up the wine industry in California.”

In a statement, the Wine Institute, an advocacy group for California wine growers, questioned the study, they wrote, "Arsenic is prevalent in the natural environment in air, soil and water, and in food. As an agricultural product, wines from throughout the world contain trace amounts of arsenic as do juices, vegetables, grains and other alcohol beverages. There is no research that shows that the amounts found in wine pose a health risk to consumers."