Cheap US wine brands in lawsuit over claims of toxic arsenic levels

Low-priced wine could cause cancer and heart disease, according to plaintiffs

Budget-friendly wine brands could contain dangerously toxic levels of arsenic - increasing the risk of cancer and heart disease.

More than two dozen American vintners are facing a lawsuit claiming their wines contain a poisonous amount of the known carcinogen.

According to the proposed class action, filed on Thursday in Los Angeles, levels of arsenic within the Californian brands are up to five times higher than what the Environmental Protection Agency allows for water.

The lawsuit names numerous low-priced wines, including popular brands such as Franzia, Mogen David, Almaden, Sutter Home and Wine Cube.

It says tests by three independent laboratories found arsenic levels that in some cases were 500 per cent higher than what's considered safe.

But the industry group Wine Institute dismissed the allegations as false and misleading.

The complaint was filed on behalf of three San Diego residents and a Los Angeles man.

Arsenic occurs naturally in the air, soil and water but in larger amounts, it can be deadly.

The plaintiffs - named in the suit as Doris Charles, Alvin Jones, Jason Peltier and Jennifer Peltier - say when consumed in excess over time can cause cancer, cardiovascular disease, respiratory illness and other health problems.

The wines are primarily white and blush varieties of Moscato, Pinot Grigio and Sauvignon Blanc, which all retail for less than $10.

According to the complaint, the plaintiffs are seeking a recall on all the wines with high arsenic levels, whether voluntarily or through a court order, money back to the consumers who purchased these wines and a broader goal to shed light on a minimally regulated industry.

The total damages sought are not specified in the complaint.

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