December 15, 2017

Iowa Warns About Use of Copper Mugs with Alcoholic Beverages

The State of Iowa has issued an advisory bulletin warning consumers about selling and serving alcoholic beverages in copper mugs. There are federal guidance and state regulations about the use of copper and copper alloys in contact with food and beverages.

Warning Recall Sign

The popularity of a drink called Moscow Mule, an alcoholic cocktail that is typically served in a copper mug, has led to inquiries about the safe use of these mugs. The use of copper and copper alloys as a food contact surface is limited in Iowa. That state and many other states have adopted the Federal Food and Drug Administration’s Model Food Code, which prohibits copper from coming into direct contact with foods that have a pH below 6.0. Examples of foods with a pH below 6.0 include vinegar, fruit juice, or wine.

Since the pH of a Moscow Mule is well below 6.0, the copper mugs with a copper interior may not be used with this particular drink. Copper mugs that are lined with another metal such as nickel or stainless steel are allowed.

High concentrations of copper are poisonous and have caused foodborne illness. Copper is leached into foods and beverages when those surfaces come into contact with acidic foods. Copper is a heavy metal. Most copper present in the body is bound to proteins, which reduces the concentration.

Some of the symptoms of copper toxicity include high blood pressure, occasional or frequent unexplained nausea, agoraphobia, hair loss, anemia, hyperactivity, being very easily irritated, short term memory failure, difficulty concentrating, tender calf muscles, joint pain, swelling and stiffness, difficulty falling asleep, and unsound sleep. Patients may also experience depression, headaches, excessive fatigue, hypoglycemia, and PMS.

Blood tests and hair analysis can be used to diagnose a copper imbalance or copper toxicity. Patients can be treated with heavy metal detoxification plans or methionine.

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