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ALERT: Poisoning risk from Moscow Mule copper mugs

ALERT: Poisoning risk from Moscow Mule copper mugs

Medical experts have warned bars to only use copper mugs and goblets that are lined with nickel or stainless steel to avoid poisoning customers. 

Copper mugs have become hugely popular in recent years, most commonly when making the Moscow mule, a cocktail containing vodka, ginger beer, lime and ice.

An advisory bulletin from Iowa’s Alcoholic Beverages Division has noted that, in keeping with US Food and Drug Administration guidelines, copper should not come into contact with acidic foods with a pH below 6. That includes vinegar, fruit juice, wine and cocktails containing acidic ingredients. A traditional Moscow mule has a pH is “well below 6.0.” the bulletin says.

“When copper and copper alloy surfaces contact acidic foods, copper may be leached into the food,” the division notes.

Symptoms of copper poisoning include abdominal pain, diarrhea, vomiting and jaundice, according to the National Institutes of Health. “Sudden (acute) copper poisoning is rare,” NIH says. “However, serious health problems from long-term exposure to copper can occur. Severe poisoning can cause liver failure and death.”

“The recent popularity of Moscow Mules, an alcoholic cocktail typically served in a copper mug, has led to inquiries regarding the safe use of copper mugs and this beverage,” the Iowa Alcoholic Beverages Division wrote. “This means that copper mugs that have a copper interior may not be used with this beverage.”

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