The Moscow Mule is an alcoholic drink made of vodka, lime, and ginger beer. It has become all the rage over the past years, but a recent study warns that these popular mugs are likely to be toxic.
Toxic Copper Mugs: A Moscow Mule Warning
High levels of copper are toxic and can cause foodborne illness. When it comes into contact with acidic foods or beverages, copper may trigger leaching. Iowa and a few other states have started adopting the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s Model Food Code, which “prohibits copper from coming into direct contact with foods that have a pH below 6.0.”
Some examples of foods with a pH below 6.0 include fruit juice, black tea, wine, vinegar, nuts, cheese, and chocolate. The pH level of the traditional Moscow mule is also below 6.0. Therefore, according to the federal Food and Drug Administration’s Model Food Code, copper mugs with copper interior shouldn’t be used with Moscow mule. However, copper mugs with another metal lined on the interior can be used with this drink, such as stainless steel and nickel.
Acute Copper Poisoning Symptoms
Although rare, acute copper poisoning is quite a dangerous condition that results from long-term exposure to copper. Some of the common symptoms of swallowing large amounts of copper include:
- Yellow skin
- Abdominal pain
Symptoms of long-term exposure to copper include:
- Burning sensation
- Kidney failure
- Liver failure
- Anemia symptoms
- Metallic taste in the mouth
- Muscle aches
Although drinking an occasional Moscow mule will not cause severe symptoms as the ones typical for long-term copper exposure, it is of utmost importance to keep the amount of contact with copper under check, as it can accumulate over time. In terms of copper toxicity, drinking water, cookware, and hormonal birth control are also important factors.
Many researchers believe that excess copper might lead to the onset of dementia. Therefore, if you notice copper water pipes at home, get the water tested.
Toxic Copper Mugs: Better Alternatives
Of course, this doesn’t mean that you need to stop drinking Moscow mule for good. Just make sure that when you are ordering one, you check the interior of the mug. If it is lined with nickel or stainless steel, it is okay.
Moscow Mule Mocktail
- Crushed ice
- ½ cup ginger beer
- ¼ cup sparkling water
- ¼ cup fresh lime juice
- Mint leaves
- Lime slice
- Fill ¾ of the mug with ice
- Pour the ginger beer, sparkling water, and fresh lime juice in the mug
- Top with mint leaves and cut lime slice
Final Thoughts on Toxic Copper Mugs
- High concentrations of copper are toxic and have been shown to cause foodborne illness.
- The Food and Drug Administration’s Model Food Code “prohibits copper from coming into direct contact with foods that have a pH below 6.0.”
- Mugs liked with stainless steel or nickel and considered safe.
- Symptoms of acute copper poisoning include diarrhea, jaundice, vomiting, and abdominal pain.