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Moscow Mule Mugs Can Be Poisonous, Health Officials Say

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Fans of Moscow Mules have some bad news coming: a recent statement from health officials in Iowa says that the copper mugs used in the trendy cocktails can give users food poisoning.

Iowa’s Alcoholic Beverages Division made the announcement after examining the poisonous nature of copper and copper alloys when mixed with food, CBS News reports. According to the Food and Drug Administration’s Moral Food Code, copper is banned from coming into direct contact with food items that have a pH level below 6.0.

Liquids that have a pH level below 6.0 are mostly acidic, such as wine, vinegar and fruit juice. Cocktails like Moscow Mule include lime juice, vodka and ginger ale, and are widely served in copper mugs, falling far below the standards given.

The cocktail has enjoyed massive popularity, particularly among social media users who find that the copper mugs make for attractive posts. It is also called a vodka buck, and was supposedly “born” in Manhattan, according to an article in The New York Herald Tribune. Another version of the cocktail’s origins credits Wes Price, Jack Morgan’s head bartender in New York’s Chatham Hotel, as the creator of the Moscow Mule.

The statement says, “High concentrations of copper are poisonous and have caused foodborne illness. When copper and copper alloy surfaces contact acidic foods, copper may be leached into the food.”

Copper poisoning, also called copper toxicity, happens when the body has an excess of copper in it. It can happen when a person consumes acidic food or drinks from uncoated copper cookware or dinnerware, or from drinking contaminated water. Copper poisoning can result in stomach pains, vomiting, diarrhea, and skin discoloration. Long-term effects can damage the liver and kidneys.

On the bright side, copper mugs that have an inner lining using a different metal like stainless steel or nickel, are perfectly safe to drink from.


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