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Powdered alcohol: Oops, feds now say powdered alcohol, Palcohol OK'd 'in error'

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Powdered alcohol – marketed as “Palcohol” – was a nice thought while it lasted, all of a few weeks or so. It didn’t take long for the approval process of alcohol in powdered form to come to a screeching stop, if the government ever gave it its approval to begin with. A representative with the U.S. Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau, a sub-unit of the US Department of Treasury, said in an email to The Associated Press late Monday that the approvals were issued “in error.”

According to The Associated Press on April 21, multiple varieties of Palcohol received “label approval” back on April 8, according to the website for the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau. The approval of Palcohol – a molecular encapsulated powder that when mixed with water produces an alcoholic drink – spread quickly on news outlets and social sites. The announcement gained widespread media attention after it was announced that the substance was green-lighted by the federal government for sale in the United States.

Palcohol was supposedly being rolled out in six flavors come the fall of 2014: vodka, rum, cosmopolitan, mojito, lemon drop and a margarita flavor. According to the Washington Times on April 19, the driving force behind the powdered alcohol is the rising cost of liquid alcohol. Palcohol was expected to cost a fraction of the price of its liquid counterpart, but be equal in strength and taste.

Palcohol.com explains the thinking behind their powdered alcohol concept: “Yep, we’ve taken liquid alcohol and made it into a powder. Why? Sometimes liquid isn’t convenient. Because Palcohol is a powder, you can take it just about anywhere to enjoy a cocktail! That’s why we say: Take your Pal wherever you go!”

This cached version of the Palcohol website – written prior to the feds granting approval of the powdered booze – even discussed the possibility of snorting the product: “Let's talk about the elephant in the room ... snorting Palcohol. Yes, you can snort it. And you'll get drunk almost instantly because the alcohol will be absorbed so quickly in your nose. Good idea? No. It will mess you up. Use Palcohol responsibly.” While this was written as a warning, it's clear that it will likely be seen as more of an invitation to try ingesting it similar to a drug.

Palcohol's parent company Lipsmark said it will now look to resubmit the labels for approval. “We don't have an expected approval date as label approval can vary widely,” a statement said. It seems clear now that the approval was done in haste.

Robert Lehrman, who runs a beverage law website, called bevlaw.com, initially reported on the product’s approval. Lehrman noted that Palcohol had to have gone through an extensive process before reaching the label approval stage. “An oversight of this nature does not ring true to me,” Lehrman said, adding that the feds likely heard some strong reactions from lawmakers after the so-called approval went public.

Chances are, we have not heard the last of Palcohol. So what are your thoughts on potentially seeing this new powdered alcohol? A brilliant regulatory decision by the government, or an all-too-convenient way to drink and abuse alcohol? One that is sure to open the floodgates of consumption problems? Leave your comments below.

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