All new imports of Italian wines that have not been certified safe by the Italian government will be banned from the United States and any wines already here will be tested for the methyl alcohol poisoning that has killed 20 persons there, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms announced yesterday.
Earlier this week, the Italian government suspended all wine exports in the wake of its own wide-scale testing program.
None of the wines found by Italian authorities to have been adulterated is among the high-quality wines commonly imported by the United States, according to American wine distributors and U.S. officials.
In the meantime, federal officials directed all of the nation's wine importers and wholesalers to begin testing all Italian wines in stock and to submit the results to the agency.
The bureau began its own testing April 1 but has turned up no evidence of the poisoned product, officials said.
Stephen Higgins, director of the bureau stressed that the move was a precautionary measure, saying in a statement that "to this point, the Italian government has not been able to give us any real assurance that none has reached this country."
About 73 million gallons of Italian wine are imported to the United States annually.