Regulation & Safety

‘Astonished’ US lawyers: Controversial powdered booze could follow vodka tampon fad

22-Apr-2014
Last updated on 23-Apr-2014 at 11:35 GMT - By Ben Bouckley+
Palcoholic worry? Critics worry about social and health problems (Photo: Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau)
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US attorneys Lehrman Beverage Law say they are ‘astonished’ that 58% alcohol by weight powder Palcohol has been approved for US sale as brandowner Lipmark predicts an autumn 2014 launch.

This week Lipmark LLC – founded by wine expert Mark Phillips (see photo below) known for PBS show 'Tasting Wine with Mark Phillips' – hit back at ‘sensational’ reporting of the news, insisting its 12% ABV product is safe when used in a “responsible and legal manner”.

Outdoors enthusiast Phillips came up with Palcohol as a low weight alternative to liquid alcoholic options, and Lipmark plans to release six varieties of the product, which it says is equivalent in strength to one standard mixed drink.

In April 2014 the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB) approved seven labels for the product.

“Yep, we’ve taken liquid alcohol and made it into a powder! Why? Sometimes liquid isn’t convenient. Because Palcohol is powder, you can take it just about anywhere to enjoy a cocktail,” the label reads.

As rare as vodka injections and ‘eyeballing’

It’s directions for use involve filling the pouch – it contains alcohol, plus natural flavors and Sucralose in cocktail versions – with water, before adding a mixer or flavored powder.

“I am not astonished that this is a real product, but I am absolutely astonished that this is approved,” Lehrman lawyers wrote in a blog post, noting the TTB label approvals.

These cover vodka and rum-based powders and Powderita (Margarita) product, plus Lemon Drop, rum cocktail and Cosmopolitan offerings, the formulations of which TTB has also approved.

But Lehrman’s lawyers are sceptical about product prospects, stating that “after the initial shock value, perhaps this will be as rare as vodka tampons, eyeballing [‘drinking’ spirits via the eye] and vodka injections”.

“Also, the Palalcohol company had better get some really, really good liability insurance,” Lehrman adds, before questioning whether such a policy would even be available.

‘We will fight this to our dying breath’ – AVID

Not surprisingly, the news has provoked strong reactions, with one commentator on Lehrman’s blog, Don Wright, insisting that powdered alcohol should be banned in the US.

“Children and teen deaths will rocket, rapes will climb out of sight, drunk drivers, and accidents will go up. This is a disaster waiting to happen. I hope this is blocked immediately,” he added.

Bill Downs, founder of Advocates for Victims of Impaired Driving (AVID), said his organization “will fight this with our dying breath”, noting that 10,000 US citizens die from drink driving annually.

Distribution might also present problems, Lehrman’s lawyers say, noting that Palcohol will have to be sold via licensed wholesalers with an interest in the status quo, who will not necessarily be keen on carrying it.

Responding to fears in some quarter that some people may snort the product, Lipsmark warns: “Don’t do it! It’s not a responsible or smart way to use the product”, adding that volume added to the powder means it would take half a cup thereof to get the equivalent of one drink via this means.

Related topics: Regulation & Safety, Beer, Wine, Spirits, Cider, Packaging & Packing Materials, Containers