Originally published November 14 2014
Popular Fireball Whisky recalled in three countries due to toxic antifreeze ingredient
by Jonathan Benson, staff writer
(NaturalNews) The company that distills it says it "Tastes Like Heaven," but the popular alcoholic beverage Fireball Whisky has been pulled from the Scandinavian countries of Norway, Swede and Finland after it was discovered that batches of the trendy, cinnamon-flavored spirit contained high levels of a chemical used in the production of vehicle antifreeze that may be toxic to humans.
That chemical is known as propylene glycol (PG) and, though "generally recognized as safe" (GRAS) by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the "clear, colorless, slightly syrupy liquid" is a synthetic additive that the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR) lists as a "toxic substance." European Union regulations prohibit the use of PG at levels that are considered acceptable in the U.S., and that are used in Fireball.
Reports indicate that the three countries ordered a recall of the beverage after shipments of U.S.-formulated Fireball, which contains much higher levels of PG, were mistakenly sent in place of the much safer European variety. The U.S. version of Fireball can legally contain up to 50 grams per kilogram (g/kg) of PG, though the Sazerac Company, which makes Fireball, claims it uses less than one-eighth of this amount.
"The beverage owners say it was an 'oops' of sorts, stating the bottles were mistakenly shipped to Europe instead of the U.S.," wrote Lisa Parker for NBC Chicago. "The company said it uses a different recipe for bottles shipped to Europe than it does for bottles in North America."
Propylene glycol often made from petroleum: You're eating motor oil!So what is propylene glycol, exactly? According to ATSDR, a division of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), PG is a synthetic, water-attracting substance that is often used in the production of polyester compounds, a.k.a. plastics. It helps retain moisture content when added to foods, drugs and various industrial products, and is also a common additive in paint.
The Dow Chemical Company, which manufactures upwards of 1.2 billion pounds of PG annually, states that the chemical is derived from propylene oxide, a "petroleum-based raw material." In other words, PG is derived from some of the same chemicals used to produce gasoline and motor oil, as well as processed foods and food-like products such as Fireball.
Even if it doesn't necessarily cause cancer -- long-term cancer studies on PG have never been conducted -- ATSDR lists PG as affecting the dermal (skin), renal (urinary and kidney) and respiratory (from nose to lungs) systems. The Environmental Working Group (EWG) also lists PG as a "moderate" concern for systemic organ toxicity.
If Sazerac can make Fireball with less or no PG for Europe, why can't it do the same for US?But the real question here deals with why the Sazerac Company is using PG in the first place, especially if it is capable of making a Fireball product with less or no PG for the European market. Would it really be that difficult to remove PG from the North American version of Fireball in the interest of safety?
It remains unclear from the media reports at this point what Sazerac is using in place of PG for the European market. But the point is that the company is capable of making Fireball differently, but for whatever reason is choosing not to do so for the American market.
"When consumed in large quantities, propylene glycol can lead to some minor health problems, though it is not classified as a carcinogen by leading health authorities," wrote Connor Adams Sheets for International Business Times.
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