March 20, 2018

Moscow Mules could be poisoning drinkers

09 August 2017, 08:23 | Winifred Adams

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Health officials of the Iowa Alcoholic Beverages Division examined what happens when copper mixes with food.

As The Washington Post reported this week, the Iowa Alcoholic Beverages Division released a bulletin late last month warning bartenders and restaurants against serving the popular cocktail in copper mugs, as is traditional.

In the advisory, health officials note that, in abiding by FDA guidelines, copper should not come into contact with acidic foods that have a pH below 6. That includes vinegar, wine, and Moscow Mules.

Lime juice has a pH around 2.0, which is easily acidic enough to dissolve small amounts of copper from the mug into your drink.

Copper is commonly used for kitchenware like pots and pans, but it can be unsafe. "When copper and copper allow surfaces contact acidic foods, copper may be leached into the food".

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You've probably seen copper mugs in bars around the country as a resurgence of the classic cocktail known a Moscow mule has captured drinkers in the U.S. Copper mugs lined with another metal, such as nickel or stainless steel, however, are fine to use.

"The objective of this bulletin is to advise licensees and permittees selling and serving alcoholic beverages in copper mugs of the applicable federal guidance and state regulations regarding the use of copper and copper alloys in contact with food and beverages", the statement reads.

No alcoholic drink may be more recognizable than the Moscow mule, and often it has nothing to do with the actual drink.

The National Institutes of Health said that while sudden acute copper poisoning occurs rarely, long term exposure to copper may result in serious health problems such as liver failure and even death.

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