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COMMITTEE ON GOVERNMENT OPERATIONS
JACK BROOKS, Texas, Chairman DON FUQUA, Florida
FRANK HORTON, New York JOHN CONYERS, JR., Michigan
THOMAS N. KINDNESS, Ohio CARDISS COLLINS, Illinois
ROBERT S. WALKER, Pennsylvania GLENN ENGLISH, Oklahoma
WILLIAM F. CLINGER, JR., Pennsylvania HENRY A. WAXMAN, California
ALFRED A. (AL) MOCANDLESS, California TED WEISS, New York
LARRY E. CRAIG, Idaho MIKE SYNAR, Oklahoma
HOWARD C. NIELSON, Utah STEPHEN L. NEAL, North Carolina
JIM SAXTON, New Jersey DOUG BARNARD, JR., Georgia
PATRICK L. SWINDALL, Georgia BARNEY FRANK, Massachusetts
THOMAS D. (TOM) DELAY, Texas TOM LANTOS, California
JOSEPH J. DIOGUARDI, New York ROBERT E. WISE, JR., West Virginia
RICHARD K. ARMEY, Texas BARBARA BOXER, California
JIM LIGHTFOOT, Iowa SANDER M. LEVIN, Michigan
JOHN R. MILLER, Washington MAJOR R. OWENS, New York
BEAU BOULTER, Texas
JOHN E. GROTBERG, Ilinois
WILLIAM M. JONES, General Counsel
COMMERCE, CONSUMER, AND MONETARY AFFAIRS SUBCOMMITTEE
DOUG BARNARD, JR., Georgia, Chairman JOHN M. SPRATT, JR., South Carolina LARRY E. CRAIG, Idaho JOE KOLTER, Pennsylvania
PATRICK L. SWINDALL, Georgia BEN ERDREICH, Alabama
JIM SAXTON, New Jersey ALBERT G. BUSTAMANTE, Texas
JACK BROOKS, Texas
FRANK HORTON, New York
STEPHEN R. McSPADDEN, Counsel
Georgia, and Chairman, Commerce, Consumer, and Monetary Affairs
freda, chief counsel, Alcohol and Tobacco, and Bruce Weininger, Chief,
Martini, John H., president, New York State Wine Grape Growers, Inc.
Growers of America
Food Safety and Applied Nutrition, and Curtis Coker, Office of Compli-
Wessinger, Hugh J., Senior Associate Director, Resources, Community,
and Economic Development Division, General Accounting Office, ac-
Drake William T., Deputy Director, Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and
Submission to Congressman Horton's additional questions.
York: Information concerning toxicity of diethylene glycol
and Applied Nutrition, Food and Drug Administration, Public Health
Mrazek, Robert J., a Representative in Congress from the State of New
York: April 16, 1986, article from the Wall Street Journal entitled
"What's in Wine? More Than You Might Imagine”.
Submissions to Congressman Horton's additional questions.
Number of wholesale liquor dealers and importers..
BATF's July 11, 1986, responses and relevant material.
with U.S. Government concerning contaminated wines
removal of wines for contaminants, and the Federal Alcohol Adminis
tration Act. B. BATF documentation: BATF product alert/industry memo in July
1985, sample label approval and actual label for wine containing
DEG, and memo on BATF task force
contaminated with DEG and BATF's December 1985 master list ....
additional BATF testing and laboratory resources..
Austrian wine ....
July 11, 1986, letter to the subcommittee...
FEDERAL EFFORTS TO IDENTIFY AND REMOVE
CONTAMINATED IMPORTED WINES
WEDNESDAY, MAY 28, 1986
HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES,
COMMERCE, CONSUMER, AND
MONETARY AFFAIRS SUBCOMMITTEE
Washington, DC. The subcommittee met, pursuant to notice, at 1 p.m., in room 2247, Rayburn House Office Building, Hon. Doug Barnard, Jr. (chairman of the subcommittee) presiding.
Present: Representatives Doug Barnard, Jr., and Ben Erdreich. Also present: Representatives Frank Horton and Robert J. Mrazek.
Staff present: Stephen R. McSpadden, counsel; Faye Ballard, clerk; Alexander B. Cook and Scott Fisher, minority professional staff, Committee on Government Operations.
OPENING STATEMENT OF CHAIRMAN BARNARD Mr. BARNARD. The subcommittee will come to order.
Today the Commerce, Consumer and Monetary Affairs Subcommittee will examine the adequacy of Federal agency efforts to identify and remove contaminated wines, both imported and domestic, from the marketplace. In mid-July 1985, our Government first received reports of contaminated Austrian wines within the United States. Later, some German and Italian wines were implicated. In April of this year, there were a number of deaths in Italy reportedly caused by contaminated Italian wine. The purpose of this hearing is to determine how well the U.S. Government has responded to these recent events.
The subcommittee will hear from the General Accounting Office, which recently released a report, “Imported Wines—Identifying and Removing Wines Contaminated With Diethylene Glycol [DEG],” prepared at the request of the ranking minority member of the Government Operations Committee, Congressman Frank Horton, who is with us today.
The subcommittee will hear from senior officials of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (BATF), and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), both of which have jurisdiction over contaminated wine-or presume to have. Finally, we shall hear from two representatives of domestic wine producers, who will talk about the standards they follow to assure the purity and safety of wine.
The responses by these two agencies to the diethylene glycol scare last year, involving primarily Austrian wines, and to the more recent methanol contamination, involving some Italian wines, constitute two case studies of the Federal Government's ability to identify, test, and remove wines contaminated by toxic substances. We will seek answers to the following questions raised by the GAO's report and its followup work:
Are BATF's and FDA's statutory authority adequate, particularly their authority to require importers and wholesalers of wine to test for, submit reports on, and remove harmfully contaminated wine?
Do BATF or FDA routinely test wines for harmful contaminants?
Did FDA, the primary and most experienced agency for recalling harmful food products, defer responsibility and not provide guidance to BATF, whose authority and experience are limited to the mislabeling of alcoholic beverages? If so, why?
Did BATF sufficiently focus its notification and identification efforts on the importers of Austrian wine, rather than on wine importers in general?
Did BATF rely excessively on importers and wholesalers to remove contaminated wine, and did it monitor or verify importers' and wholesalers' actions in doing so?
Did BATF treat the DEG scare more as a mislabeling issue than a health-related one, by focusing its removal efforts on numerous Austrian, German, and Italian wines rather than on the few brands of Austrian wine posing the most significant risk to health?
Have BATF's efforts to find methanol-tainted wines been effective, and how have these efforts differed from BATF's actions on the DEG contamination?
And, finally, we want to determine what steps BATF and FDA may be taking to develop new policies and procedures, as recommended by the GAO.
I am frankly concerned by GAO's conclusion BATF's actions did not provide a high degree of confidence that all DEG-contaminated wines, particularly those with high levels of DEG, were identified and removed from the market. This raises two overriding questions for this hearing: Are there a number of harmfully contaminated wines still sitting on retailer shelves or in wholesaler warehouses? And, what happens if there is a next time? Will FDA and BATF be better prepared in the future to meet any threat caused by imported contaminated wines?
We are delighted to have with us today the senior ranking Republican member of the Government Operations Committee, Congressman Frank Horton of New York, and, Congressman Horton, would you have an opening statement at this time.
Mr. HORTON. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
First of all, I want to express my appreciation to you for holding this hearing and, second, because I am not a member of this subcommittee, although I am an ex officio member, I do appreciate the opportunity to participate in this particular hearing.
At the outset also, Mr. Chairman, just so it is on the record, I have a couple of people that are friends of mine that are here and I would like to introduce them. They are not constituents, they are