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CALIFORNIA IN BRIEF : SAN DIEGO : Winemaker Alert on Lead Risk OKd

From Times Staff and Wire Reports

A San Diego judge approved a plan to warn wine buyers of possible lead contamination from the foil wrappers on even some of the best-known labels. In approving the plan, San Diego Superior Court Judge Judith Haller settled a state complaint that evolved from a novel consumer lawsuit filed by a San Diego law firm. The suits are based on a 5-year-old California ballot measure, Proposition 65, that aims to curb public exposure to toxins. Under the settlement, brokered by the state attorney general’s office, winemakers will stop using the lead-laced wrappers, restaurants and bars will warn employees of the dangers of serving lead-wrapped wine and newspapers will carry warning advertisements. In addition, the dozen or so wineries affected by the settlement--including such well-known vintners as Gallo and Robert Mondavi--will pay the state a civil penalty of $200,000 and underwrite a $700,000 fund for the newspaper ads, which will advise consumers to wipe bottle tops with a damp cloth after opening.


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