---PRODUCT ALERT II --- PRODUCT ALERT II --- PRODUCT ALERT II --
METHANOL CONTAMINATION IN ITALIAN WINES
TO: WHOLESALERS AND IMPORTERS OF WINE AND OTHERS CONCERNED:
This circular will provide the importers/wholesalers of Italian
wines with the current procedures to follow for the testing and
documentation of methanol in Italian wines which are currently
in their inventories and those of their retail customers, in
customs bonded warehouses (CBW) awaiting release, or in transit
On April 17, 1986, Officials of the Bureau met with officials
of the Italian government to discuss the current U.S.
restrictions on the importation and sale of Italian wines.
During the course of this meeting, ATF was given documented
assurances by the Italian Government that no Italian wines
bottled or shipped prior to December 12, 1985 had been
contaminated by the addition of methanol by Italian producers
Based on these assurances, the following procedures have been
initiated by ATF:
1. For Italian wines for which there is documentary evidence
that they were bottled or shipped to the United States prior to
December 12, 1985, ATF will leave the testing for methanol
content of these wines up to the discretion of the individual
wholesaler, importer, distributor and retailer. ATF will not
require mandatory testing of these wines.
2. For Italian wines bottled or shipped on or after December
12, 1985, all importers and wholesalers are advised that they
should not sell these wines until they have had each brand of
wine and vintage, if applicable, in their inventories tested by
a commercial laboratory and certified as having safe levels of
methanol. In addition to individual wholesaler testing, it
will also be acceptable, if laboratory analyses are provided to
the importer/wholesaler by his foreign supplier. These
laboratory analyses must also cover specific brands of wines,
and the testing must have been performed by an Italian
laboratory certified by the Italian Ministry of Agriculture.
In both cases, copies of all laboratory analyses must be
forwarded by the importer/wholesaler to ATF in Washington, DC
per the instructions in Industry Circular #86-9.
3. For Italian wines bottled or shipped on or after December
12, 1985, which are currently being held in a CBW pending
testing for methanol content, Customs has agreed to allow for
the taking of samples by the importer for testing in commercial
laboratories. These wines will be released by Customs upon
presentation to Customs of a laboratory analysis showing safe
levels of methanol for each brand in the shipment.
4. For those Italian wines bottled and shipped to the U.S. on
or after December 12, 1985 but shipped before April 3, 1986,
currently in transit from Italy and which do not have a
laboratory certificate, the importer of record can effectuate
release of these wines from Customs custody by signing a
"Conditional Release Certification". By signing this
certificate the importer of record will agree to secure samples
of each brand and type of Italian wine from the shipment and
send these samples to the ATF National Laboratory for testing.
All samples should be mailed to 1401 Research Boulevard
Rockville, Maryland 20850. Upon notification by Customs that
the level of methanol was found safe, the shipment may be
released to the retail level.
5. For Italian wines exported to the U.S. on or after April 3,
1986, a certificate of analysis will be required by Customs
before the shipment will be released. This certificate must
cover every brand and type of wine in the shipment and be
issued by an Italian testing laboratory certified by the
Italian Ministry of Agriculture. Any shipment received by
Customs which was shipped to the U.S. on or after April 3, 1986
containing Italian wines which is not accompanied by this
certificate will be denied entry.
Inquiries: All inquiries concerning the content of this
circular should be directed to ATF's Alcohol Import-Export
Branch in Washington DC at (202) 535-6245.