A popular American whiskey has been recalled in Europe due to a controversial food additive that is used in everything from cosmetics to anti-freeze.
Norway, Sweden and Finland pulled Fireball Cinnamon Whiskey from state-run shelves when officials discovered that the bottles contained the North American recipe. The formula we purchase in our local ABC store contains higher levels of propylene glycol than is allowed by the European Union. The company has a separate formula that it uses for sales in Europe, which has tighter restrictions on food additives.
Propylene glycol is approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for use in food, cosmetics and medications, but in higher concentrations it's used to make polyester and artificial smoke. While it's used as a de-icing agent, ethylene glycol is still used more often because it is cheaper, despite being more toxic.
In food, the chemical is generally used as a flavor enhancer.
"PG (propylene glycol) has been used in more than 4,000 food, beverage, pharmaceutical and cosmetic products for more than 50 years," said a statement on the company's website. "Most people consume PG every day in soft drinks, sweeteners, some foods and alcoholic beverages."
The statement added that the North American formula contains one-eighth of the FDA-approved amount of propylene glycol, but did not elaborate on the European recipe.
According to the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry, propylene glycol toxicity happens rarely and under unusual circumstances. Those that are at special risk include newborns, infants, the elderly and those with preexisting skin and eye conditions.