Lead levels in fortified wines


AIM: The main lead exposure route is the intake of contaminated food, water, and alcoholic beverages, in particular wine. At the gastric level, Pb is transformed into a soluble compound which, when conveyed into the bloodstream, is the long-term cause of saturnism, intoxication with neurotoxic, nephrotoxic and hematopoietic effects, and with the neurological developmental delay of children. Pb is classified by the International Agency for Research on Cancer as a 2A class, possible carcinogenic to humans. In an opinion on possible health risks, CONTAM considered that cereals, vegetables, drinking water, and wine give a greater contribute to dietary exposure to Pb in Europe. Large quantities of wine, beer, and other alcoholic products drinking can increase daily Pb intake above the maximum permitted levels. The JECFA/WHO committee defined a Provisional Tolerable Weekly Intake (PTWI) for lead of 25 µg/kg body weight for all age groups. The presence of lead in grapes, wines and other alcoholic products has been reported for many years and is influenced by a series of factors that characterize wineries (country of origin, different climatic conditions, grape cultivars, soil composition, environmental industrial emissions of lead, historical and present, motor vehicle exhausts gases, metal-based fungicides and insecticides, fertilizers and winemaking processes, including cellar equipment). The aim of this work was to detect the Pb content in fortified wines from central Italy, in particular from Abruzzo.

METHODS: The analysis was performed in ICP-MS. The wine samples were diluted ten times with HNO3 (2%) and analyzed in triplicate. The external standard method and the calibration solutions prepared in 2% ethanol/2% HNO3 were used for the quantification of Pb. The data obtained was analyzed using the ICP-MS ChemStation.

RESULTS: The results of a study conducted on the trace elements presence, including Pb, in Italian fortified wines agree with the literature data relating to the Pb content, which is lower than the limit allowed by current legislation, with the exception of a sample relating to the “Vino cotto”, of artisanal production.


These results can contribute to the formation of a database to protect the consumers health. The wines Pb content is established by the Commission regulation (EU) 2015/1005 of 25 June 2015 which defines the maximum admitted value at 0.15 mg/L. The International Organization of Vine and Wine (OIV) in 2020 reduced the limit to 0.10 mg/L for wines and 0.15 mg/L for fortified wines.


Publication date: September 15, 2021

Issue: Macrowine 2021

Type: Article


Angelo Cichelli

Department of Medical, Oral and Biotechnological Sciences – DiSMOB. “G. D’Annunzio” University of Chieti-Pescara – Via dei Vestini, Chieti, Italy.,Laura CASORRI, Department of Technological Innovations and safety of plants, products and anthropic settlements (DIT) – National Institute for Insurance against Accidents at Work (INAIL). Rome, Italy.  Ada CONSALVO Center for Advances Studies and Technologies (CAST) University “G. d’Annunzio” of Chieti-Pescara, Italy.  Marco DI LUIGI, Department of Occupational and Environmental Medicine, Epidemiology and Hygiene – National Institute for Insurance against Accidents at Work (INAIL) – Research Centre Monte Porzio Catone – Rome, Italy.  Massimo DI MARTINO, Ispettorato Centrale della tutela della Qualita’ e della Repressione Frodi dei prodotti agroalimentari (ICQRF). Pescara, Italy.  Barbara FICOCIELLO, Department of Technological Innovations and safety of plants, products and anthropic settlements (DIT) – National Institute for Insurance against Accidents at Work (INAIL). Rome, Italy.  Eva MASCIARELLI, Department of Technological Innovations and safety of plants, products and anthropic settlements (DIT) – National Institute for Insurance against Accidents at Work (INAIL). Rome, Italy.

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lead, fortified wine, maximum value, oiv


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