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Lab Tests on French Wines Find Pesticide Residue in Every Bottle

Laboratory tests on 92 wines by a French consumer group found traces of pesticides, insecticides and/or fungicides in virtually every bottle. Even wines made from organic grapes had pesticide traces, although the levels were much lower.

The levels were below the European Union’s maximum residue limits, according to the group, UFC-Que Choisir. However, there are no EU toxicity limits for bottled wine, only for wine grapes before fermentation.

Bloomberg reported on Sept. 25 that the group tested wines from various regions across France, ranging from a $2.20 bottle of generic red to a $20.25 bottle of Chateauneuf-du-Pape. Wine producers only use 3.7 percent of France’s farmland but account for 20 percent of the country’s pesticide use, UFC-Que Choisir noted.

“By drinking a glass of wine, you have every chance of unknowingly swallowing a few micrograms of these pesticide residues,” UFC-Que Choisir wrote. “No wine today escapes the pollution by plant-protection products applied to the vines.”

The lab tests even found residues of an insecticide and a fungicide not allowed in the EU, the group said. Wines produced from grapes from “conventional” agriculture on average contained four pesticides, mainly fungicides, while for wine from organic grapes residues mostly consisted of one to two pesticides.

The highest pesticide count was found in a bottle of 2010 Bordeaux, with 14 chemicals detected, followed by 2012 Bordeaux with traces of 13 products, the group reported.

UFC-Que Choisir indicated that climate has a great effect on whether, and to what degree, French wine grapes suffer from diseases and bug infestations.

“Weather conditions, particularly rainfall, have a direct impact on diseases of vines and attacks by parasites,” they wrote. “The warm and dry weather of Provence and the Rhone valley partly explains why the wines from these regions are significantly less loaded with pesticides than their cousins from Champagne and particularly Bordeaux.”


© Food Safety News
  • KC

    I would be curious to know how this compares to wine producers in other countries. I’ve always preferred Italian and American wine to French – although there are a few bottles that tickle my fancy – but I suspect that US, Italian, Chilean, Australian, etc probably aren’t much different in the chem residue category.

    • farmber

      Malbec, grown at high altitudes, is touted as one of the most pesticide free wines…

      • KC

        Huh, interesting. Thanks for the info… You have a favorite bottle?

      • UKFirst

        French Malbec, Cahors wines, are not grown at high altitudes so I guess they may have pestcides traces too.

  • Walt

    Quick! Someone should alert Bettina Siegel so she can harrass USDA over this egregious risk just in case any of this dreadfully dangerous French wine should find its way into Texas schools. Bettina reminds us we must be ever vigilant against any and all foreign things (like imaginary Chinese chicken products), lest scary ethnic quirks poison us and our precious children. The xenophobic principal is given too little credence in food safety. After all, perception is reality and the customer is always right even when brainwashed by paid professional fear mongers .

    • http://burningbird.net Shelley Powers

      Obviously you have a personal grudge against Bettina Siegel.

      I’m surprised that FSN would allow such an off topic personal attack to go unchecked.

  • scidoc

    I’m unclear on the word “trace”. Is this a dangerous parts per milliion, or a detectable but ignorable parts per billion?

    • timmy

      I’d assume “trace” is below the action level (MRL), or below a default level of typically 0.01 mg/kg (ppm).

    • Za Ch

      I am also wondering. This article had some neat content, but it is pretty useless without any real data.

  • FS Illuminati

    Just to let you guys know…

    Most wine companies here in California say they do not test for pesticides… and most claim they dont use pesticides which is a load of crap they feed to oblivious tourist and wine tasters… Organic or not they use pesticides…

    and for the 0.5% that honestly dont use any, well your neighbors do and I guarantee if they tested there would be positives detected.. and you may say “well since its drift the residues wont be high enough to pose a health risk” and you may be right.

    However, if they are organic wine grapes and even a detectable residue of an unapproved pesticide for organics is found then you could end up in a huge lawsuit.

    Also, if they are conventional wine grapes and an unapproved pesticide for use on wine grapes is found then you could also end up in a lawsuit or millions of lost revenue if your shipment gets detained or destroyed because of unapproved pesticide residues detected when they test your product in destination.

    At least do some balance studies so you know for sure you arent concentrating pesticides in your wine.

    If your keeping it domestic then load it up!! Us Americans dont care, we actually have developed a taste for pesticides over here, gives it an extra little kick. Love me some imidachloprid residue to go with my rose

  • Jane Peters

    Bon Appétit?