The Scary Reason Europe Just Recalled This Whisky

Don’t worry, shot pourers—the U.S. has no plans to follow suit.
(Photo: Fireball Whiskey/Facebook)
Oct 29, 2014· 1 MIN READ
Kristina Bravo is Assistant Editor at TakePart.

Finland, Sweden, and Norway have recalled Fireball Cinnamon Whisky, a drinking-contest staple that's popular for its sweet and spicy burn. But American frat boys need not panic: Thanks to more lenient standards in the U.S., the drink will stay on American shelves.

Fireball’s New Orleans–based maker, Sazerac, had to recall the product because batches meant for North American consumers ended up in Europe last week. According to the company, the recipes for the two markets differ because of a European regulation regarding one ingredient: propylene glycol.

A common food additive, propylene glycol is used as a thickener and a flavor enhancer in frozen dairy desserts and baked goods. Outside the food industry, it’s found in paint, plastic, antifreeze, and aircraft de-icing fluids.

High doses of propylene glycol (six grams per kilogram or more) have been found to cause kidney damage in many species and physical deformities in baby chickens. But the FDA believes it’s safe at the levels being used.

Sazerac uses less than one-eighth of the amount permitted by the FDA as a means of letting “the flavor ingredients mix together properly,” said company spokesperson Amy Preske.

“It’s important to note that there are different grades of PG,” she added. “Most consumers will be in contact with PG every day, when consuming products such as soft drinks, sweeteners, some foods, or in alcoholic beverages…. This is different than the grade used in industrial applications.”

Europe typically takes greater precautions when it comes to chemicals used in food. It took a petition signed by 50,000 people this year for Subway to remove a chemical in its bread that’s also found in yoga mats—an ingredient banned by the European Food Safety Authority in 2005.

Europeans can expect new batches of Fireball Cinnamon Whisky, compliant with their regulations, within three weeks.