By Meredith Melnick
Four Loko is so last season. There’s a new faddish booze-infused product whipping up interest from public-health experts: alcoholic whipped cream.
According to a report in the Boston Herald, products like Cream and Whipped Lightning are appearing on liquor store shelves all over the country. They look innocent enough: they are canisters of whipped dairy, like the Reddi-wip used on top of ice cream sundaes and waffles. But unlike the standard variety, the alcohol-charged “whipahol” Cream packs a 30-proof wallop. That’s 15% alcohol by volume, containing about as much or slightly less alcohol as drinks like Bacardi Mojito and Bailey’s Irish Cream. Another brand, Whipped Lightning ranges from 16% to 18% alcohol by volume, equivalent to the alcohol contained in three or four beers — that is, if you ingest the entire canister.
Although alcoholic whipped cream isn’t likely to get kids as wasted as quickly as Four Loko did — not without first causing a stomachache — public health experts fear that the boozy whip targets young consumers. It comes in flavors like chocolate, raspberry, orange and cherry. Cream’s MySpace page recommends adding the product to drinks like Jell-O shots — a staple at college parties.
Compared with the alcoholic energy drinks that were recently declared illegal by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), however, whipahols are somewhat less accessible to underage drinkers: for one thing, it costs about $13 per canister and it is sold in liquor stores, rather than convenience stores. (Cream is also available for purchase online.)
Whipahol is not considered a food and is thus not regulated by the FDA; as a result, manufacturers are not required to reveal nutrition information on the packaging beyond alcohol content. The Herald reports:
“They can get a significant amount of alcohol in one shot,” Dr. Anita Barry, a director at the Boston Public Health Department, said of drinkers who consume the boozy topping.
Barry said alcohol-infused whipped cream needs to be monitored for potential abuse. One of the big worries is whether canisters prominently mention that the product contains high alcohol levels, she said.
Still, my guess is that flavored alcoholic whipped cream is less a harbinger of booze-induced problems in teens and more a sign that the culinary tastes of the nation’s food manufacturers need a serious reboot.
[ALCAP response: Yet another way that “Big Alcohol” is pushing its way into our lives! When is “enough” enough!?]