Moscow mule copper mugs may be toxic, officials say

Enjoy but make sure the interior of the mug isn't copper

The Moscow mule is an easy and refreshing cocktail for hot summer nights, but the Iowa Beverage Association is urging people who enjoy them to check their glasses. According to the state's alcoholic beverage division, the vodka-ginger beer-lime mixture can not be served in a solid copper mug.

"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 advisory notes. Officials cite high concentrations of copper causing possible foodborne illness. That includes vinegar, wine, and Moscow Mules. When copper and copper alloy surfaces contact acidic foods, copper may be leached into the food. Foods that are acidic (pH lower than 6.0) can corrode the copper and cause the metal alloys to mix in the food or liquids. Copper mugs lined with another metal, such as nickel or stainless steel, however, are fine to use.

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In Iowa and other states that have adopted the FDA's food code, copper mugs that have a copper interior are not allowed to be used to serve Moscow mules.

"The goal of this bulletin is to advise licensees and permittees selling and serving alcoholic beverages in copper mugs of the applicable federal guidance and state regulations regarding the use of copper and copper alloys in contact with food and beverages", the statement reads. The long-term effects of copper poisoning also include liver damage or cirrhosis.

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