Germans check stores for spurious Italian wine

Other News Materials 11 April 2008 23:46 (UTC +04:00)

( dpa ) - German health authorities are checking wine imports from Italy to see if any has been extended with a watery brew, a state food and beverage testing authority in Koblenz, Germany said Friday.

Italians were shocked last week by the disclosure that 70 million litres of low-priced locally grown wine had been watered down, with cheap flavourings including potentially carcinogenic fertilizer and hydrochloric acid added to hide the fraud.

Germany suspects the same 14 dishonest wine bottlers shipped product over the Alps to Europe's biggest single wine market, where low-priced wines are popular and sold in every supermarket.

Rhineland Palatinate state's food authority said the merchants' exports would be tested once they had been found, but a spokeswoman added, "We don't know yet if they have anything illegal in them." It could take several days to get to the facts.

She said Italian wine was regularly checked. Last year, 477 Italian products were sent to the state laboratories and 126 found wanting, either because of illegal additives or because they tasted or smelled bad. Another 80 were found to be improperly labelled.