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Ethyl carbamate (EC, urethane) is a naturally occurring component of all fermented foods and beverages. Because EC has shown a potential for carcinogenicity when administered in high doses in animal tests, the Food & Drug Administration is working together to reduce EC levels in wine products. The FDA has listed the following recommendations for winemakers to keep EC levels low in wine: - The chemical reaction between urea and ethanol increases greatly with temperature. It is therefore essential that a wine containing elevated levels of urea not be exposed to elevated temperatures (above 100 F) during storage or shipment. - Since long-term exposure of wine to heat is also detrimental to its sensory properties and visual stability, wineries should educate and encourage the shipper, distributor, wholesaler, and retailer to minimize heat exposure by use of appropriate insulated containers, shipping schedules and storage facilities.
|Jennifer Mathes, Ph.D.|