The colourful creator of Palcohol powdered alcohol has hit out at New York senator Charles Schumer after the politician wrote to the US FDA calling on it to ban controversial product Palcohol before the prospect of US sales by autumn 2014.
Brand owner Lipsmark LLC was founded by wine expert Mark Phillips, and hit the headlines in late April when the US Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB) granted approval seven labels for variations on the 12% ABV product, which it then released publically.
Reflecting on the subsequent media furore, in this YouTube video released on May 7, Phillips says: “We began working, under the radar…on our manufacturing logistics, distribution channels, marketing plan, etc., with the idea of a fall debut.
“That all changed when the TTB released our approved labels, unbeknown to us. Our unfinished website was discovered with some edgy wording on it and everything went nuts,” he adds.
Schumer under attack: ‘Inaccuracies and irresponsible statements’
“Questionable as this wording was…we never suggested using Palcohol illegally…The last draw was Senator Charles Schumer’s recent request to the FDA to ban Palcohol,” Phillips says.
“Like so many others he is completely ignorant about the truth of Palcohol. As a result, his letter to the FDA and his press conference were so riddled with inaccuracies and irresponsible statements that I just had to set the record straight, he adds.
Lipsmark plans to sell Palcohol in a white powdered form in a 4x2” gusseted pouch – Philips demonstrates plain vodka and Cosmopolitan cocktail versions in the – and insists he created the innovation for on-the-go use given the weight of carrying glass spirits bottles around.
To use it you add cold water to the pouch then shake it for 30 seconds, to produce a Cosmopolitan that can then be drunk from a re-sealable stand-up container.
Writing to FDA commissioner Margaret Hamburg on May 5, Schumer asked her to work with the US TTB to assess potential public health concerns that may arise when combining the product with food and beverages.
A 1976 court ruling and memo of understanding gives both agencies responsibility to regulate alcohol and Schumer is pushing the FDA to investigate Palcohol prior to release “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 its availability”.
‘Stop this potentially deadly product in its tracks!’ Sen. Schumer
“With powdered alcohol on its way to store shelves by this fall, we’re sitting on a powder keg. Clearly our food and drug safety experts must step in before this mind-boggling product, surely to become of the Kool-Aid of teen binge drinking, sees the light of day,” Shumer said.
“Palcohol can be easily concealed and brought into concerts, school dances and sporting events, it can be sprinkled on food and can even be snorted,” the politician adds.
The federal TTB can only judge and approve new alcohol products based on labelling and taxation, Schumer sys, adding that the FDA should use its authority to intervene when alcohol products create “significant health risks”.
Alluding to super-strength, malted alcohol product, Four Loko, Schumer called on the FDA to intervene and “stop this potentially deadly product in its tracks”.
But X hit back at claims Palcohol could be (1) snorted (2) smuggled into schools or stadiums (3) used to spike drinks (4) easier for kids to acquire, in the second part of the embedded video.
“Snorting it is very painful. It burns, hurts, and would take about 1 hour to snort this much powder. Why would anyone spend an hour of pain and misery…to get one drink into their system, when they, could, oh, drink a shot, and accomplish the same thing?” he said.