We’ve heard about phthalates in our plastic food containers and in our personal care products, but in our wine? Unfortunately, yes.
A new study performed by Laboratoire Excell in France tested a variety of French wines and spirits for phthalates, and found that these chemicals were indeed present in 59 percent of the wines sampled.
Phthalates are chemical compounds found in many types of plastics. A substantial body of research has linked these chemicals to hormonal disruption, toxicity to the reproductive system as well as to allergies and the growing obesity epidemic. Some evidence also suggests that some phthalates might have carcinogenic properties.
From their analysis, the researchers found that 11 percent of the wines tested had higher concentrations of phthalates than the amount allowed by the European Union (EU) for contact with food. Only 17 percent of the wines did not have any measurable amount of the specific phthalates considered toxic to the reproductive system.
The researchers state that the main source of phthalate contamination for wine is the epoxy resin coating commonly used on vats where wine is stored and aged. The longer wine sits in these vats, the more phthalates can enter into the mix.
However, it’s not just the vats. The study authors wrote, “in wineries, various polymer-based items are used for pumping, storing, and handling wines and spirits (vats, pumps, hoses, gaskets, tanks, and so forth).” They also suggest that wines bottled with synthetic corks could also be introducing phthalates into the wine.
There are many health benefits to consuming a moderate amount of red wine, especially organic red wine. However, this study highlights a potential health hazard which may have been overlooked for many years, even in some organic wineries.
Your safest bet for avoiding phthalates in your wine would likely be to take a tour of a winery or vineyard and see how their wines are made, asking as many questions about materials as possible. If this is not an option, a call to your favorite organic winemaker may shed some light on their practices.
Now that the issue of phthalate contamination in wineries has come to light, responsible winemakers will hopefully begin utilizing other materials, which do not pose these health risks, in their process.
-The Alternative Daily