Moscow Mule Mugs Pose Health Risk

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One of the most talked-about cocktails this week is the trendy Moscow Mule, but for all the wrong reasons. Here's why copper and alcoholic beverages should not mix.

The Food and Drug Administration's Model Food Code prohibits copper from coming into direct contact with foods that have a pH below 6.0.The Moscow mule's pH level is well below that standard which means it may be unsafe to use such mugs when serving beverages. The pH of a traditional Moscow mule, made with lime juice, ginger beer and vodka, is well below 6.

The state health officials concluded that using the signature mug for alcoholic beverages - or any food or liquid with a pH balance of below 6 - could result in food poisoning or copper poisoning, which can cause diarrhea, vomiting, and jaundice. Examples of these acidic foods include fruit juice, wine, vinegar - and Moscow Mules. "When copper and copper allow surfaces contact acidic foods, copper may be leached into the food".

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The Iowa Food and Beverage Commission says high concentrations of copper are poisonous and have caused food borne illness. The statement said that those with inner linings that use a different metal such as stainless steel or nickel are safe to drink from.

"Mugs that have a copper interior may not be used with this beverage".

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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