The product, which has a pending patent name of “Palcohol”, has had its labels approved last year by the US Treasury Department’s Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau, which was the last hurdle before it could be commercialized. It works somewhat akin to any powdered drinks – just add water and you have an instant cocktail, which comes under different flavors.
However, a good chunk of US states have raced to outlaw the product. New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, who signed into effect the bill on Friday, argued that powdered alcohol could raise intoxication levels as people might choose to up the doses they mix with water to enhance its strength, noting that Palcohol is a “public health disaster waiting to happen”.
Palcohol creator Mark Phillips is of a different opinion though, claiming that it is not perilous and is more of a utility item. He offered the example of wanting to make a certain cocktail when camping, a situation in which carrying all the required ingredients and instruments was just impractical.
A December 2014 study by National Alcoholic Beverage Control Association (NABCA) claims that the name powdered alcohol is actually inaccurate, as the alcohol itself isn’t really powdered; it also comes in a capsule form, which can be ingested without being dissolved in water.
Many have called for the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to recommend a federal ban on the product. But the agency can only investigate non-alcoholic ingredients added to the mixture and has no capacity to recommend or not recommend the product for approval in its entirety, according to a statement released this March. It also added that the product’s non-alcoholic ingredients fell in line with its regulations.
The Palcohol controversy has also reached Congress, where US Senator Charles Schumer tried to introduce a federal ban on the manufacturing, distribution, sale or possession of powdered alcohol in this year’s Sober Truth on Preventing Underage Drinking Authorization Act. The provision was ultimately dropped, but response at state level was quite firm: 21 states have banned Palcohol (Alaska, Alabama, Georgia, Connecticut, Indiana, Kansas, Nebraska, Maine, Louisian, North Carolina, Nevada, North Dakota, Ohio, Tennessee, South Carolina, Oregon, Vermont, Utah, Washington and Virginia in addition to New York) while two other have set temporary bans for the product in June (Maryland and Minnesota).
strong>Image Source: New York Times