Copper mugs used to serve alcoholic drinks may cause more than just a hangover. Health officials have warned that drinking trendy cocktails such as the Moscow mule served in copper mugs may also lead to food poisoning.
The Moscow mule raises safety concerns as it recently surged in popularity. The cocktail drink only uses a few ingredients namely vodka, lime, ginger beer and ice but it is often served in copper mugs. Public health officials warned that using those mugs could have unwanted health consequences.
Iowa's Alcoholic Beverages Division released an advisory bulletin warning consumers about the potential dangers of using copper for serving alcoholic drinks. The warning reiterates guidelines of the Food and Drug Administration that state copper should not be in contact with acidic food with pH below 6. These items include vinegar, fruit juice and the Moscow mule, the pH level of which falls far below the standard.
Consumers Warned Against Serving Cocktails In Copper Mugs
The Alcoholic Beverages Division said explained that when copper and copper alloy surfaces get in contact with acidic food, the copper may leach into the food, which can cause copper poisoning characterized by symptoms that include diarrhea, stomach pains, vomiting and yellowing of the skin.
Food experts have long known not to use copper, or copper-related pots and pans for cooking acidic recipes such as tomato sauce. Besides posing health threats, using cookware made of reactive metals such as copper, aluminum, iron and steel are also known to have unwanted effects on the food. Copper pots, for instance, can alter the flavor of the recipe.
The new warning was issued as the mule becomes increasingly popular in social media with users posting photos of the cocktail in attractive mugs online.
"The purpose of this bulletin is to advise licensees and permittees selling and serving alcoholic beverages in copper mugs of the applicable federal guidance and state regulations regarding the use of copper and copper alloys in contact with food and beverages," the statement reads.
Not all copper mugs, however, are poisonous. The statement said that those with inner linings that use a different metal such as stainless steel or nickel are safe to drink from.
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.
"In poisonings from a long-term buildup of copper in the body, the outcome depends on how much damage there is to the body's organs," the NIH said.