E235 Natamycin in Argentinian Wine

By | November 24, 2009

Product warning – Argentinian Wines

There have been reports in the German wine press that a substance called Natamycin has been found in some Argentinian wines. Following these reports, some wine suppliers in the UK extended their normal quality control to test for Natamycin at very low levels of concentration, and have identified some wines that contain traces of it.

Based on the information so far, “THERE IS NO RISK TO HEALTH” claim online wine supplier Naked Wines.

Natamycin “IS APPROVED IN THE EU FOR HUMAN CONSUMPTION in products like cheeses and sausages” they scream, “but it is NOT approved in wine. So, it is highly unlikely to be a health risk” they add. Hmmm.

Where it has been found in any of the Naked Wines range, they have been advised by the Food Standards Agency that the concentration detected is lower than the allowable daily intake.

So far, natamycin has been found in the following wines: Villa Paola, 2008, San Rafael (batch no.: LOT N° 01/2009), Villa Atuel, 2008, San Rafael, Syrah Merlot (L-WT1377), Legend of Polo, 2007, Mendoza, Malbec (L 76605) and Terra Nova, 2008, Mendoza, Malbec (L: 90.0789). Wine control authorities in affected countries (Great Britain, Denmark, Austria and Russia) have been informed.

Investigations have been initiated in Argentina, in order to establish how the natamycin came to be in the wines. One possibility is that this came about through rectified grape juice concentrate that had been treated with natamycin. The actual causes are not yet known at this stage.

More about Natamycin:

Natamycin has been used for decades in the food industry as a hurdle to fungal outgrowth in dairy products, meats, and other foods. Potential advantages for the usage of natamycin might include the replacement of traditional chemical preservatives, a neutral flavor impact, and less dependence on pH for efficacy, as is common with chemical preservatives. It may be applied by spraying a liquid suspension, by dipping the product in an aqueous suspension (known as a “brine”), or by mixing it into the product in a powdered form along with cellulose (a known “anti-caking” agent) on whole, shredded, or soft cheeses. While not currently approved for use on meats in the United States, some countries allow natamycin to be applied to the surface of dry and fermented sausages to prevent mold growth on the casing. Also, natamycin is approved for various dairy applications in the United States. More specifically, natamycin is commonly used in products such as cottage cheese, sour cream, and yogurt. As a food additive, it has E number E235.

Naked Wines say: “As well as comprehensively testing all Argentinian wines, we have also asked all other suppliers to confirm whether or not they have used Natamycin in any part of the wine making process and broadened our normal quality control testing programme to search for Natamycin.” They are also offering refunds to anyone who has purchased Argentinian wines from them (assuming you havent drunk them already presumeably).

Naked Wines have stopped selling all Argentinian wines until they have been tested to be free of Natamycin. Expect other wine suppliers like Laithwaites to follow suit. Naked Wines took the initiative to e-mail all their clients who had purchased Argentinian wines – which is pretty responsible we say. Good on them!

Will supermarkets soon start pulling Argentinian wines from the shelves we wonder?

However, this does raise another point. Who expected there to be E numbers in wine? Not me that’s for sure. I guess we better start reading the wine labels better and to be on the safe side stick with non Argentinian wines for now.

Comments welcome.

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