Recently, Glyphosate was discovered in five major wine brands. Unfortunately, it’s not limited to just five brands — weedkillers are widely used in farming, and their residues end up in many foods and beverages. The only way to find Glyphosate-free wines? Clean Label Project. This nonprofit is now helping test wines for the most harmful toxins, including Glyphosate.
We sat down with Clean Label Project Executive Director Jackie Bowen to better understand their process. To be Clean Label Certified, a wine needs to be free of 130 environmental and industrial contaminants.
So far, only two wines have met Clean Label Project’s rigorous standards: LifeVine Wine and Great Oregon Wine Company. The organization is now working to bring as many wine brands on board as possible. Hopefully, this will result in better, cleaner wines for wine drinkers nationwide.
Why not simply buy organic? Here are the key differences between Clean Label wine and USDA organic wine:
Heavy Metal Testing
The USDA does not test for Arsenic, Cadmium, Lead, and Mercury in organic products. These compounds are all linked to cancer or organ damage. Clean Label Project does test for heavy metals in wine, and actually weighs them higher in its score because it views them as the most dangerous to health.
Despite the significant concern around Glyphosate, the USDA has continued to exclude it from organic product testing. Clean Label Project does test for Glyphosate in wine.
Final Product Testing
Clean Label Project buys and tests the exact same wines that we purchase from stores. These tests are unscheduled and unannounced. The USDA, on the other hand, usually tests organic wines on-site at production facilities. Contamination can occur even during the storage process, so testing the final wine we actually drink is the most accurate.
It’s impossible to have zero levels of toxins in a wine. Our food systems are so contaminated that all products, even organic wines, have trace levels of contaminants. Knowing this, Clean Label Project has gone to great lengths to understand what’s “normal”. It has tested hundreds of America’s bestselling wines (based off of Nielsen sales data) to help assess how a wine’s contaminant levels compare to the rest of the market. Its tests include varietals from all of the major brands we can think of, such as Mondavi, Yellowtail, Kirkland, and Chateau St. Michelle. This has helped create a more accurate definition for wine purity.
Sometimes, what’s not listed on food labels is more important than what is on them. Clean Label Project is pioneering the fight for higher quality and accountability in the wine industry. We hope to see many more Clean Label wines in the future. To learn more about Clean Label wines, visit cleanlabelproject.org.