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State Liquor Board Finds Poisoned Austrian Wine In Stocks

July 31, 1985

HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) _ Two brands of Austrian wine contaminated by a poisonous chemical used to make antifreeze were found in liquor store stocks, the state liquor agency said Tuesday.

The wines were carried only by the Liquor Control Board’s 17 wine speciality stores, and the 120 bottles in stock around the state have all been sent to the board’s lab in Harrisburg, said board spokesman Robert Ford.

The board, which maintains a retail monopoly on liquor sales at its state stores, removed all Austrian wine from its speciality shops July 19 after reports of the contamination surfaced in Austria.

The board’s laboratory found diethylene glycol in samples of Ruster Trockenbeerenauslese 1979 and Ruster Eiswein Traminer Auslese 1978, said Ford. Each sells for about $15 a bottle.

Although none of the wine supposedly had left Austria, the state liquor board ordered tests on one bottle each of eight brands of Austrian wine. The tests detected no contamination in six brands.

Ford said one of the two bottles with contamination had a level of 0.1 gram per liter, which he described as low, while the other, with a level of 10 grams per liter, was ″rather high.″

Over the last year, 233 bottles of the two affected brands were sold in Pennsylvania.

Those with unused bottles were urged to return them, Ford said. He could not say what health effects drinking the tainted wine would cause, except to cite news reports that said people with liver and kidney problems faced the greatest risk.

The LCB said Austrian authorities speculated the chemical was added to cheap wine to make it smoother or sweeter and enable the wine to be sold as a premium at higher prices.

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