A Menace in the Moscow Mule

As you begin the holiday season, be aware: a trendy and popular alcoholic drink may pose a menace to your health.

The Moscow Mule is made with vodka, ginger beer and lime juice.  (Legend says that a vodka maker and a ginger beer maker teamed up to help their individual products sell better.)  Today, the Moscow Mule is traditionally served in a copper mug.

If you do a lot of cooking, you can guess where this is headed.  Chefs know not to use a copper pot to make tomato sauce.  The acid in the tomatoes will react with the copper and give the sauce a metallic taste.  But beyond the sensory experience, the chemical reaction will also leach metallic copper into your food.  And your body does not do well eliminating copper from your system.

Symptoms of copper toxicity can include fatigue, confusion and depression.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration advises that “copper and copper alloys such as brass may not be used in contact with a food that has a pH below 6.”  Unfortunately, the lime juice in a Moscow Mule raises the acidity and lowers the pH well below this level.

The State of Iowa even released an advisory bulletin warning about Moscow Mules in copper mugs.  So the next time you pick up a Moscow Mule, make sure the copper mug is lined with another metal.  Or maybe use a glass.

Agilent instruments can measure and analyze metals in your foods.  The Agilent MP-AES uses nitrogen as its plasma gas, which significantly reduces costs while increasing safety.  The MP-AES literally “runs on air”!


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