Fining Agents in Wine

Executive Summary

The Food Safety Action Plan (FSAP) aims to modernize and enhance Canada's food safety system. As part of the FSAP enhanced surveillance initiative, targeted surveys are used to evaluate various foods for specific hazards.

The main objectives of this targeted survey were to:

  • Provide baseline surveillance data for allergens in the fining agents used in wine production
  • Determine if the traces of allergens observed in wines would potentially pose a risk to the allergic population in Canada

Fining agents are used to remove fine particles naturally present in wine. This improves the clarity, as well as, enhances the palatability of unfinished wine prior to filtration and bottling. Commonly used fining agents are milk protein, Isinglass (fish protein), and egg white. As a result of using these products there is the potential for allergenic proteins to be left behind, which could result in a reaction of a sensitive individual.

One hundred samples of wine were collected at retail. The one hundred samples consisted of forty nine red wine samples, one rosé and fifty white wine samples (of which one was a sparkling wine). Samples of the wine were analysed for milk (casein and beta-lactoglobulin) and egg allergens using a proven method validated in multiple matrices. We did not analyze for fish, an allergen found in Isinglass, as there are no commercially available methods for this component. None of the samples analysed had detectable levels of the milk or egg allergens. At the present time, allergens including sulphites are exempted from declaration on wine labels under the Food and Drugs Act and Regulations (FDA&R). No milk or egg allergens were detected in the wine samples collected for this targeted survey. Therefore, the samples are considered to be compliant with current regulations.

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