Sulphur problem for Lidl wine
- Thursday 13 November 2003
The wine, Creston Bay Cabernet Shiraz 2002 (pictured) was withdrawn from sale last week. It had only been on sale for a month.
Some of the bottles were found to contain large amounts of the preservative sulphur dioxide – up to 17 times the permitted level. At this level, the chemical can cause asthma attacks if a person suffering from the condition so much as smells the wine or the cork. Severe attacks can be life threatening.
The UK Food Standards Agency warned asthma suffers not to open the bottles or drink the wine. It also asked anyone who had bought the wine to return it to the store from which it was purchased.
Lidl was the only store to stock this particular wine.
The problem came to light after a consumer in Germany complained about one of the bottles. Tests carried out found the high level of sulphur dioxide.
Lidl has issued an in-store notice saying the wine had not met the chain’s standards and asked anyone who had bought the 2002 vintage to return it for a refund.
The wine is unlikely to be pleasant on the palate, but for the majority of people the excess sulphur dioxide poses no real threat despite the pungent, acrid smell it gives off.
The use of sulphur dioxide is permitted throughout the wine world. Almost all wine makers use it in small amounts. Among other benefits, the chemical prevents oxidation in the bottle and aids the fermentation process.
Sulphur dioxide is one of the oldest known food additives and has been used in wine since ancient times when sulphur was burnt before sealing the wine in the barrels.
Although regarded as generally safe to the consumer, certain practices have highlighted the health risks of sulphur dioxide. In the USA salad bars used to spray the preservative on salads to keep them looking fresh. Excessive use caused an estimated eight deaths from asthma.