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Mainstream media falls for California wine arsenic HOAX story: wine industry victimized by scientifically illiterate reporting


Monday, March 23, 2015
by Mike Adams, the Health Ranger

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(NaturalNews) Four residents in California are reportedly suing wine makers for selling products that contain what the lawsuit claims is a "dangerous" level of arsenic. The lawsuit lists 28 California wineries as defendants, including companies like Franzia, Mogen David and Almaden.

"According to the lawsuit," reports the New York Daily News, "tests by three independent laboratories found that in some cases arsenic levels were 500% higher than what's considered safe."

The scientifically illiterate mainstream media jumped on the news, widely repeating the scare story even though it has no basis in actual scientific fact, as I explain in detail below. Here are just some of the scary-sounding headlines and statements found across the media, where journalists have absolutely no clue about the relative toxicity vs. safety of elements such as arsenic or mercury:

CBS News"Very high levels of arsenic" in top-selling wines
- A totally false statement! There aren't very high levels of arsenic in these wines. CBS is quoting the guy who runs the lab that stands to profit from the fearmongering.

San Francisco Gate"Of those wines, 83 showed presumably toxic levels of arsenic, above the 10 parts per billion that’s considered safe for drinking water."
- Utter nonsense. "Presumably toxic?" The levels tested were extremely low and nowhere near "toxic."

NY Daily News: "Dangerous arsenic levels found in California wine from 28 producers, suit claims"
- You can file a lawsuit that claims anything. The NY Daily News should have known enough to realize the claims were bogus.

USA Today"A class action lawsuit claims dozens of California wineries produced wine with dangerously high levels of arsenic..."
- Once again, USA Today seems to be unable to tell truth from fiction. It is repeating an outright fiction claimed in the lawsuit which seeks damages from wine makers. If I filed a lawsuit claiming Pepsi contained high levels of Adamantium (the stuff Wolverine's claws are made from, didn't ya know?), would USA Today also print that story and give it credence?

The California wine arsenic story is all a junk science HOAX!

While the media headlines shown above may sound convincing, the truth is that the accusations are part of an outlandish hoax. The lawsuit's claims are blatantly false, and the California wine industry is being unfairly victimized by what I see as a highly irresponsible attempt to extort money from wine makers through a junk science lawsuit that suffers from fatal errors I will explain here.

The group that put out the original press release, it seems, is trying to drum up lab testing business from other wine and beer manufacturers. The mainstream media played right into the hoax, providing them with enormous free publicity even as they conducted what I have to call really BAD science.

As you read this, keep in mind that I'm well known for sounding the alarm over lead in organic brown rice proteins, cadmium in cacao powder and mercury in flu shots. I'm acutely aware of the toxicity of certain elements in food and beverages, yet even I look at this arsenic in wine story and shake my head in bewilderment at how the mainstream media has run with this without having any real understanding of the scientific principles which would easily reject the claim that California wines are dangerous due to high arsenic levels.

In truth, the arsenic levels are extremely LOW. Far lower than you'll find in many other foods such as seaweeds (see below), and nowhere near the level that would justify the irrational alarm being demonstrated by the mainstream media. This is all very important to understand so that consumers, court judges and the news media don't continue to get hoodwinked by unsubstantiated claims of heavy metals contamination. We must learn to tell the difference between real, legitimate warnings vs. false warnings over food and beverage safety.

First, here's why I know more than most about heavy metals in food and beverages

My qualifications: As Natural News readers know, I'm the science lab director of the Natural News Forensic Food Lab, where we run an Agilent 7700x ICP-MS instrument capable of detecting heavy metals down to parts per billion concentrations. I was the first researcher in the world to document the heavy metals capturing potential of common foods, and the first to document the heavy metal tungsten in rice protein products. I am the developer and patent holder of Cesium Eliminator, a dietary supplement that binds with radioactive isotopes, and Heavy Metals Defense, a dietary supplement that binds with toxic heavy metals during digestion. I am also the creator of the Low Heavy Metals Verified standard that we use to validate the cleanliness of all the products sold at the Natural News Store. The Natural News Forensic Food Lab operates under ISO 17025 quality rules, with international accreditation pending.

I conducted all the research on water filtration of toxic elements, published on - and I also recently conducted heavy metals analysis of cigarettes. You can see the results in this Natural News article. I'm the inventor of the Food Rising 3D printable food production system, and my next invention to be released is a device that removes arsenic from contaminated well water. (You'll be able to print this device on any 3D printer.) In summary, I know a thing or two about arsenic and other toxic elements. I know how to detect them, how to bind them and how to remove them. I'm extremely comfortable in an ICP-MS laboratory, spanning all phases of sample collection, preparation, digestion, normalization, analysis and calibration.

My laboratory is in the process of achieving ISO 17025 accreditation, and we are already operating under ISO 17025 procedures and quality protocols. (The accreditation process can take up to two years.)

Why the lawsuit is based on bogus science

Now, getting to the substance of the lawsuit, it claims that independent laboratories found 500% more arsenic in California wine than is allowed by the EPA in drinking water.

The EPA sets a maximum level of 10 ppb of arsenic in drinking water. But as the Wine Institute of California correctly points out, "there is no scientific basis for applying the EPA drinking water standard to wine."

Indeed, that's true. People don't drink wine in the same quantities they consume water. And if they did, they would likely die from alcohol-induced liver disease long before arsenic became a problem.

The lawsuit claims some labs found 500% higher levels in some wines. That's 50 ppb. "PPB" means parts per billion, or 1/1000th of a part per million. So the real question here is this: Is 50 ppb of arsenic in wine "dangerous" like the lawsuit says?

The science hoax revealed

To answer this question, let me share with you a few of my own findings. Using my private ICP-MS laboratory, I've documented 50,000 ppb of mercury in flu shots (which is typically 0.5mL in volume, delivering approximately 25 micrograms of mercury into body tissues per dose).

Predictably, the mainstream media took no interest whatsoever in that finding, as flu shots are the "sacred cows" of modern medicine, and they are automatically declared safe regardless of what toxic heavy metals they contain. It makes you wonder why the media would sound an hysterical, irrational alarm over 50 ppb of arsenic in wine but remain totally silent about 50,000 ppb of mercury in flu shots which are INJECTED into the body (which is far more toxic than merely swallowing something). It turns out that if you're concerned about arsenic in wine, you should be at least 100 times more concerned about mercury in flu shots.

Similarly, I appeared on the Dr. Oz show last year to share findings about 5,000 ppb of lead found in Ginkgo Biloba herbs, and over 5,000 ppb of cadmium in cacao. I've documented over 10,000 ppb of lead in mangosteen superfruit powder, and I've found that Whole Foods routinely sells organic brown rice protein powder containing anywhere from 1,000 ppb to nearly 2,500 ppb of toxic lead. Whole Foods was even caught misleading customers about these heavy metals in products they sell.

Lead, mercury and cadmium are significantly more toxic than arsenic, gram per gram. Out of the four, in other words, arsenic is the least toxic to humans, especially in its organic form which is more commonly represented in foods than the inorganic form.

California wine rates A+++ for very low arsenic levels

To help protect consumers from toxic heavy metals in food and beverages, in 2014 I created

At that website, you'll see that arsenic under 0.62 ppm is rated A+++. Converting the units, that's the same as 620 ppb.

The California wine lawsuit claims it found up to 50 ppb of arsenic, then it calls that level "dangerous." Yet even if levels were ten times higher, they would still only be 500 ppb (0.500 ppm), which would still be lower than the safest rating described on, which is A+++.

This rating system, by the way, is far more strict than the FDA. It was designed around many of the very strict limits set by the European Union, where food contamination is far more strictly monitored than in the USA.

If I tested these wines and saw 50 ppb of arsenic, there's no way at all that I would conclude those levels are dangerous in a product consumed in the same quantities as wine. Whoever reached that conclusion is flatly wrong. They have no idea what they're talking about. And this comes from a guy who has a history of sounding the (substantiated) alarm over toxic element contamination of other foods which really do pose a danger to human health.

You'll find far more arsenic in Sushi than wine

In fact, as you can see for yourself at the Natural News Forensic Food Lab, common seaweeds have far higher concentrations of arsenic.

For example, I found over 100,000 ppb of arsenic in Kombu Flakes. Yes, 100,000 ppb = 100 ppm.

I also found huge arsenic numbers in Kelp Flakes and Wakame Flakes. These numbers are orders of magnitude higher than the trace amounts detected in California wine.

To file a lawsuit over 50 ppb of arsenic in wine is, in my opinion, a shameless abuse of the legal system to threaten wine makers over an element that is nowhere near "dangerous" levels in their product. That so many mainstream media outlets fell for this science hoax and published these findings with no clue whether they are a legitimate source of concern is yet more proof that the mainstream media earn a solid "F" in food science reporting.

Most people don't know what's safe or dangerous when it comes to toxic heavy metals

Sadly, almost no one outside the circles of environmental science has any real grasp of what's safe vs. toxic when it comes to heavy metals in food, beverages or vaccines. Even my own understanding of this subject only coalesced after spending countless hours in the lab, testing literally thousands of food samples for heavy metals and observing the results.

The lack of common knowledge about the risks associated with various concentrations of toxic elements means that people can be easily misled in both directions: they can be told that TOXIC foods are perfectly safe, and they can also be told that safe foods are "dangerous."

I've seen both of these at work, and I've seen companies like Whole Foods operate in a total state of denial over the high concentrations of lead and cadmium in products they sell every day. Meanwhile, the media almost always focuses on the wrong stories, raising the alarm over 200 ppb of arsenic in rice, for example, while ignoring nearly 2,500 ppb of lead in "organic" rice protein.

As a result, both the mainstream media and the readers they cater to are left entirely in the dark about what's really a "high" level vs. a "low" level of certain elements in foods. Out of this confusion comes silly science hoax lawsuits like this one targeting California wine makers. Not only is this an extremely irresponsible exploitation of the media to spread a false scare story about an honest product industry; it also makes all the heavy metals labs look bad, including the ones like mine where we are conducting real, honest research in the public interest. (And no, we aren't selling lab testing services to companies, so we have nothing at all to gain from publishing our lab results other than informing our readers.)

In my informed opinion, every mainstream media outlet that ran with this arsenic scare story should retract their inaccurate reporting and apologize to the California wine industry.

If anybody from the mainstream media wants a REAL story on the toxic heavy metals in foods, contact me here at Natural News. I'm conducting real, original research on food contamination that no one else in the world is pursuing, and the findings are quite newsworthy.

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Tags: California, arsenic, hoax, science, wine


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