Plastic corks may be a health risk

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The Independent Online
SCIENTISTS HAVE shown that the long-term use of plastic corks in wine bottles leads to organic chemicals leaking into the wine, causing potential health risks.

A report by the Leatherhead Food Research Association, a centre funded by the food and drink industry, shows that plastic corks can taint wine, causing an "off-taste" if it is stored for more than 18 months.

Wine does not have to carry a best-before date but the findings have prompted calls for a change in the law to ensure that wine bottled with plastic or synthetic corks are subject to the date-marking legislation.

Christopher Offen, a chartered chemist and author of the report, said: "From our report it is apparent that further scientific work is required to establish the extent to which substances from synthetic closures might migrate into the stoppered wine, thus affecting the wine's smell, taste and consumer acceptability."

Although natural cork can cause wine to become tainted or `corked', this has been tested over hundreds of years and is known not to cause health problems.

David Sills, a wine trade lawyer, said that wine bottled with plastic corks should be subject to the European Community requirement for best- before dates.

"The Leatherhead report confirms that only those wines sealed by natural cork stoppers should be permitted to benefit from the lack of date-marking requirement," he said.