Alcohol, including red wine which has acquired its own modern health food mythology, may be damaging to your health in a way you hadn't thought about before.

It isn't just the booze itself, a group of scholars contends it's the packaging. Phthalate compounds are widespread in our environment and present in many plastics. Obviously, any toxicity of phthalates varies depending on their chemical composition and some compounds are considered to be potential hormone disruptorrs, so they are regulated on an international level, including for those likely to come into contact with food and drink packaging.

A study published in Food Additives&Contaminants: Part A analyzed phthalate concentrations in a variety of French wines and spirits and found that 59% of the wines analyzed contained significant quantities of one particular form of phthalate, dibutyl phthalate, and only 17% did not contain any detectable quantity of at least one of the reprotoxic phthalates.

Chemical structure of phthalates. Credit: DOI:10.1080/19440049.2014.941947

Perhaps a more worrying statistic the research brings to light is that 11% of the wines analyzed did not comply with EU specific migration limits (SML) for materials in contact with food. France hates GMOs but does not mind compounds in their wine that may actually harm people.

The study also analyzed a variety of materials frequently present in French wineries and found that a large number of polymers often contained high quantities of phthalates. Indeed, some containers that are coated in epoxy resin proved to be a major source of contamination. The authors of the paper advise ending the use of such containers.

Citation: P. Chatonneta, S. Boutoua. A. Plana, 'Contamination of wines and spirits by phthalate: Types of contaminants present, contamination sources, and means of prevention', Food Additives  &  Contaminants: Part A, DOI:10.1080/19440049.2014.941947