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Federal Government Changes Its Mind About Powdered Alcohol

From new craft beers and flavored spirits to cocktails made via altogether unorthodox techniques, it’s been pretty apparent to anyone who has set foot in a bar or liquor store over the last several years that alcohol manufacturers, marketers and even bartenders are hard at work trying to come up with new and exciting options to reel in more customers.

Interestingly, one Arizona-based company is trying to take this novelty to a whole new level by selling what can best be described as powdered alcohol. The company, Lipsmark LLC, has devised a product it calls “Palcohol,” which is essentially packets of dehydrated alcohol that can be mixed with everything from tonic water to soda to create a cocktail.

While previous news reports indicated that Palcohol, which comes in six varieties from Lemon Drop and Mojito to the more simple vodka and rum, had received the green light from the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau to start being sold in the U.S., this is not actually the case.

This past Monday, the federal agency issued a statement indicating that its approval of Palcohol was made “in error” and that the alcohol packets still need to receive the government go-ahead.

Lipsmark indicated that the about face on the TTB approval could be attributed to a simple label discrepancy regarding the amount of powder in the packet. However legal experts think it has more to do with federal lawmakers getting wind of the product and insisting that its approval — months in the making — be revoked until a more thorough safety analysis can be performed.

Regarding this point, experts have pointed out how the powdered alcohol could be abused in myriad ways from consumers inhaling it to creating shots by using less liquid in the mixture. Furthermore, they point out that people can easily sneak the packets into various venues from sporting events and concerts to bars and restaurants, elevating the risk of dangerous intoxication.

Another important safety issue concerning this type of product that must be examined is the impact it may have on road safety. In other words, will it result in even more wrongful deaths in drunk driving accidents on U.S. roads and highways?

What are your thoughts on this issue? Should powdered alcohol be granted approval?

Source: National Public Radio, “Update: Feds say powdered liquor not actually legal,” Michaeleen Doucleff, April 21, 2014; The Washington Post, “Don’t get your hopes up about powdered alcohol just yet,” Soraya Nadia McDonald, April 22, 2014

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