Powdered Alcohol: NY Senator Chuck Schumer Voices Opposition

Tuesday, 06 May 2014 11:26 AM

By Nick Sanchez

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Government approval for powdered alcohol, a new product winding its way through the federal bureaucracy, is a bad idea, New York Democratic Sen. Chuck Schumer said on Sunday.

The senator came out against the new product with a press release on his website in which he's quoted saying, "With powdered alcohol on its way to store shelves by this fall, we’re sitting on a powder keg. Clearly our food and drug safety experts must step in before this mind-boggling product, surely to become the Kool-Aid of teen binge drinking, sees the light of day."

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Many news outlets, including Newsmax, reported in mid-April that the freeze-dried alcohol was approved by the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB). Soon after the story broke, Tom Hogue, a representative from the bureau, told The Associated Press that the approvals were issued in error and were subsequently rescinded.

Representatives from the company who submitted the application, Palcohol, said "there seemed to be a discrepancy on our fill level, how much powder is in the bag" as compared to the labels. "This doesn't mean that Palcohol isn't approved. It just means that these labels aren't approved. We will re-submit labels," the company stated.

Robert Lehrman, who runs a beverage law blog that initially broke the story, told the AP that, "An oversight of this nature does not ring true to me" and suggested the application may have been rescinded after an outcry from lawmakers behind the scenes.

Now, however, the opposition has its first high-profile politician on board.

Staten Island Live reported that Schumer and other health experts' concerns include the powder being snorted, sprinkled on food, being slipped into drinks as a date rape drug, and the sneaking of alcohol into sporting events and concerts.

In response, the manufacturer said the powder would be too painful to snort, doesn't dissolve easily enough to be used for spiking food or drinks, will come in containers too big to sneak into public venues unnoticed, and will of course be subject to all the retail and consumption laws of liquid alcohol.

Schumer has specifically called for the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to step in and assess the health risks of the product, as the only thing standing between the powdered alcohol and store shelves thus far is the TTB.

The New York Daily News also reported that State Sen. Brad Hoylman (D-Manhattan) also introduced a bill Monday to prohibit the sale of powdered alcohol across the state.

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