Before it has even had a chance to hit their markets, state lawmakers in more than half the country have moved to ban powdered alcohol.
As with other drink mixes, such as Kool-Aid or Tang, consumers just add water and stir. Powdered alcohol mixes also include appealing flavors especially popular with kids — but what really worries people trying to ban powdered-alcohol products are the ease with which alcohol can be hidden and the drinks’ potential alcohol concentration, which makers say is on par with a standard mixed drink. Acute intoxication leading to death is a distinct risk, just as it is for overconsumption of alcohol in its liquid form.
“The ease of this substance presents an array of potential health problems in California as it can be snorted, added to energy drinks, slipped unknowingly to recipients or added to beverages that already contain alcohol,” said California state Sen. Bob Huff, a Republican who has proposed a ban in that state.
Though powdered alcohol had been sold in other countries, 27 states banned it by the end of last year in response to the March 2015 approval of the products’ sale by the U.S. Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration reviewed that approval and said it had no legal basis to block it because the ingredients of the powdered alcohol products are commonly found in processed foods. A proposed ban in Iowa was not approved — and may be resurrected.
Palcohol is now fighting state bans to guarantee their products make it to the market. The company’s products are available in several countries, including Japan.
Last year, U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer, a Democrat from New York, introduced federal legislation to ban powdered alcohol, which he called the “Kool-Aid of underage drinking.”
“I am in total disbelief that our federal government has approved such an obviously dangerous product, and so, Congress must take matters into its own hands and make powdered alcohol illegal,” Schumer said in a Washington Post article. “Underage alcohol abuse is a growing epidemic with tragic consequences, and powdered alcohol could exacerbate this.”
What the future holds for powdered alcohol is uncertain, but now is a good time for parents to have a conversation with their children about the potential dangers of powdered alcohol — and alcohol in all of its other forms.