Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Should Powdered Alcohol Be on the Market? Critics Say No Way

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Should Powdered Alcohol Be on the Market? Critics Say No Way

Article excerpt

A new product that promises to turn water into alcoholic drinks has created a stir this month after it first cleared a federal regulatory hurdle, but then that approval was rescinded.

Known as Palcohol, the product consists of small, one-ounce packets of powder that, when mixed with water, turn into rum, vodka, or one of four cocktails: cosmopolitan, mojito, Powderita ("tastes just like a Margarita") and lemon drop.

On April 8, the federal Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB) approved labels for the packaging of Palcohol. But in a statement Monday, the agency said: "Those label approvals were issued in error and have since been surrendered."

While the owner of Palcohol, Lipsmark, pointed to technical problems with the labels, some others contend that the federal government rethought its decision.

This much is for sure: There has been no shortage of anti- alcohol groups and research groups criticizing the product, and the company has moved into defensive mode, trying to respond to the coverage.

"[I]t's amazing how many news outlets have so many facts wrong about Palcohol," says the product's website, Palcohol.com. One mistake: "that a package has 65% alcohol by volume (it has 10- 12%)."

Critics of Palcohol have expressed a range of concerns, about everything from potential young users to snorting of the product.

"It's easy to hide and take places where it's undetectable," said Jan Withers, national president of Mothers Against Drunk Driving, during the "NBC Nightly News" telecast on Monday. "Again, this helps point out the importance that parents need to stay on top of this."

Carole Lieberman, a well-known Beverly Hills, Calif., psychiatrist who treats patients with alcoholism and other addictions, cites school, concerts, and sporting events as places where teens might try to sneak Palcohol.

The development of this powdery product is a troubling sign of the times, others say.

"First, legalized marijuana. Now, alcohol in powdered form. No matter that Federal approval was reeled in. The genie is out of the bottle," says Ben Agger, director of the Center for Theory in the sociology department at the University of Texas at Arlington. …

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