This article has been updated with information received from the outside counsel to Sazerac Co. Inc., makers of Fireball Whisky. This article previously had that the ingredient was unauthorized. However, it is not the ingredient itself, but the acceptable amount that differs between the U.S. and Europe. Guardian Liberty Voice apologizes for the error and appreciates the clarification received.
Fireball Cinnamon Whisky is being recalled in three countries due to an increased amount of a chemical ingredient that is used in some varieties of antifreeze and engine coolant. This popular brand of liqueur is taking the heat in Finland, Sweden and Norway after shipments of the North American formula were sent there on Tuesday. This particular recipe contains greater levels of propylene glycol which, although safe for the United States, is not authorized in Europe.
Fireball skyrocketed in popularity within recent years especially as a challenge shot. It is a 66-proof liqueur that tastes like Wrigley’s Big Red gum or Red Hots candy with a spicy burn. This makes it easy to take several shots but not get totally wasted and also helps explain why the younger generation loves it. Fireball Whisky has grown to become one of the most successful brands of liqueur in decades. According to Bloomberg Businessweek the drink topped $61 million in sales last year bypassing Patrón tequila and Jameson Irish whiskey, excluding bar sales.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) said, “For use in food, when used to enhance flavor by absorbing water propylene glycol is generally recognized as safe.” Sazerac, the company that owns Fireball, includes more propylene glycol in its recipe for the U.S. and Canada but not Europe. The FDA has no plans to ban sales of the drink in the United States.
According to the Agency for Toxic Substances & Disease Registry, in some circumstances propylene glycol can have toxic effects for some people suffering with existing eye or skin conditions. In recent years, the substance has been used as an alternative which is supposedly less-toxic to ethylene glycol in antifreeze. Allegedly it was deemed the cause of death for several pets that lapped up the engine fluid because of its sweet taste. The Humane Society has warned that propylene glycol is still toxic.
European Union has stricter guidelines on recommended levels of propylene glycol forcing state-owned retailers to pull the beverage from its shelves in Finland and Sweden over the last week. Norway has also removed the whisky. The European Union said it expects the beverage to return to its shelves within three weeks without the chemical. A statement on its website reads:
Unfortunately, Fireball shipped its North American formula to Europe and found that one ingredient is out of compliance with European regulations. Finland, Sweden and Norway have asked to recall those specific batches, which is what the brand is doing.
A spokeswoman for Sazerac, Amy Preske, said Europe has different rules for product formulation and uses one-eighth of the FDA approved amount of propylene glycol in its formula for North America. She added, “A mix-up caused the U.S. approved recipe to be sent to Europe.”
Peter Ho, a food processing lecturer at the University of Leeds, said it is not uncommon for drink or food ingredients to be acceptable in the U.S. and not Europe. There are different standards set for a variety of reasons, including research expertise. The substance propylene glycol, although not without controversy, is a common food additive used for a variety of purposes.
Fireball Cinnamon Whisky, which is branded “tastes like heaven and burns like hell” is one of the top 10 leading drinks in the United States. This Whisky has been recalled in three countries over a chemical ingredient that is used in some forms of antifreeze. Propylene glycol is allowed in some foods but the level used in the recipe for Fireball in the USA is higher than Europe’s restrictions allow. It is expected to return to shelves in three weeks.
By: Cherese Jackson (Virginia)