Palcohol, the powdered alcohol subject to much debate several months ago, was approved by the TTB on March 10th.
Here is the label for the Cosmo:
How can TTB approve it?
In 26 U.S.C. Section 5002 it says, in substance, the terms “distilled spirit,” “alcoholic spirits,” and “spirits” mean that substance known as ethyl alcohol, ethanol, or spirits of wine in any form (including all dilutions and mixtures thereof from whatever source or by whatever process produced).
Further, a Senate Report (No. 96-249, dated July 17, 1979 on the Trade Agreements Act of 1979, page 223, footnote 14), notes that “the definition of ‘distilled spirits’ has been amended to clarify that the terms include distilled spirits in whatever form, i.e., solid, liquor or gaseous.”
Therefore, powdered alcohol falls under the IRS Code as a distilled spirit and under the FAA Act as a distilled spirit, giving TTB the jurisdiction.
Palcohol no doubt submitted for Formula Approval and Label Approval to the TTB. Moreover, it resolved the previous issues regarding net contents and alcohol by volume (as evident by the approved label above).
Here is an old label on the left, which was surrendered by Palcohol, and the corresponding new label on the right.
The label must state what the liquor volume will be after the liquid is added and this must be an authorized standard of fill. Plus, the label must state the weight of the dry powder.
Alcohol by Volume
The label must state the alcohol by volume of the beverage after the liquid is added and must state the alcohol by weight of the dry powder.
The materials must be FDA approved for food use and Palcohol may have needed to apply for distinctive liquor bottle approval.
Now that it’s been approved, the flood of opinion is coming in once again. One of the most outspoken opponents is New York Senator Schumer.
He introduced legislation to make Palcohol illegal. In a press release, Schumer stated as follows:
U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer today introduced federal legislation to make the production, sale and possession of powdered alcohol illegal. Earlier this week, Palcohol’s producer, Lipsmark, was approved for federal labels by the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB) and now could hit store shelves as early as this summer. Palcohol is easily concealable, can be mixed with water and sprinkled onto food, and can even be snorted. Schumer explained that New York and the rest of the country have a massive problem of underage drinking, DUI’s and other alcohol-related crime, and said that Palcohol creates an immense danger to teens and others. Health experts have noted that a child that tries an alcohol product before the age of 15 is 5 times more likely to become addicted to other illegal products. Schumer is calling for passage of legislation to ban Palcohol, as part of a larger underage drinking package in the Senate.
“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. Underage alcohol abuse is a growing epidemic with tragic consequences and powdered alcohol could exacerbate this,” said Senator Schumer.“We simply can’t sit back and wait for powdered alcohol to hit store shelves across the country, potentially causing more alcohol-related hospitalizations and God forbid, deaths. This legislation will make illegal the production and sale of this Kool-Aid for underage drinking.”
Underage alcohol abuse is a growing problem. A 2011 study in the Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs showed that the number of hospitalizations of young adults ages 18-24 due to alcohol overdoses has been steadily increasing for over a decade. The National Institute of Health also reports that approximately 5,000 people under the age of 21 die each year from alcohol-related incidents.
Palcohol will be made by company Lipsmark LLC, and is freeze dried alcohol produced in a powder form. According to their website, the company plans to release at least four varieties of Palcohol, the labels for which were approved by TTB. Palcohol can be combined with water or another liquid to instantly create an alcoholic beverage. The company also suggests adding Palcohol to food like guacamole, salads and sauce.
The company’s original website brazenly suggested different ways in which Palcohol could be used. The company suggested illegally bringing Palcohol to stadium events to avoid overpriced drinks. The company also suggested combining Palcohol with foods after they are cooked; some suggestions included: vodka on eggs and rum on a sandwich. The company even explained that Palcohol could be snorted to get drunk “almost instantly.” This suggestion on Palcohol’s website has since been taken down.
Palcohol was originally approved by TTB, which was then rescinded on April 21st due to a discrepancy in the “fill level” for each packet, or the amount of powder in each pouch. Lipsmark agreed to surrender the label, but noted that “This doesn’t mean that Palcohol isn’t approved. It just means that these labels aren’t approved. We will re-submit labels.” In May, Schumer called on the FDA to immediately step in and halt sales of Palcohol. Shockingly, the FDA has since declined to investigate this obviously dangerous product. Schumer noted that in the past, FDA stopped companies from selling Four Loko even after the TTB approved the product.
Earlier this week, Palcohol announced that TTB has approved its labels and according to their website, they hope to make the product available this summer.
Schumer’s will introduce legislation with language explicitly banning the production, sale, distribution or possession of powdered alcohol as a provision of the Sober Truth on Preventing Underage Drinking Reauthorization (STOP) Act. Schumer said that we must prevent the product from ever hitting store shelves, to avoid hospitalizations and death that are likely to follow, particularly when the product’s dangers are largely unknown in the first few months of availability.