When the wedding video featuring a Go-Pro camera and a bottle of Fireball Cinnamon Whisky went viral this week, it only added to the buzz surrounding the enormously popular liquor. With a market share of $61 million last year, the product zoomed past other popular beverages in a very short timeframe.
But news out of Europe may throw a little water on the Fireball party: The product is now recalled in Finland, Sweden and Norway over concerns in the amount of an ingredient that's allowed in certain amounts in the U.S., but is more strictly regulated in Europe.
Propylene glycol, a chemical used in a wide range of products including several foods, drinks, cosmetics, and anti-freeze and de-icing solutions, was found in higher amounts in the whiskey than is permitted by the European Union and Norway.
The beverage owners say it was an “oops” of sorts, stating the bottles were mistakenly shipped to Europe instead of the U.S. The company said it uses a different recipe for bottles shipped to Europe than it does for bottles in North America.
The news prompted some questions about the differing amounts in the company’s U.S. and European versions.
Propylene glycol is considered by the Food and Drug Administration to be a GRAS substance, which stands for “generally recognized as safe.”
NBC5 Investigates has covered questions on the ingredient before, previously finding the chemical in popular water enhancers like Mio, in amounts doctors said were likely of little or no concern, unless ingested in copious quantities.
The owner of Fireball released a statement Wednesday:
Fireball Cinnamon Whisky assures its consumers that the product is perfectly safe to drink. There is no recall in North America. Fireball fans can continue to enjoy their favorite product as they always have. Late last week Sazerac, the makers of Fireball, was contacted by its European bottler regarding a small recipe-related compliance issue in Finland.
Regulations for product formulation are different in Europe, which explains why recipes for products like soft drinks, alcohol/spirits and even candies and confections are slightly different than their North American counterparts. Fireball, therefore, has a slightly different recipe for Europe.
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.
Fireball anticipates the product being back on shelves for fans in these countries within three weeks.
The company said there would be no recall in the United States, noting they only use 1/8 the amount of propylene glycol the FDA allows in the U.S. They would not comment on how much of the chemical is used in the European product, only confirming they adhere to the stricter guidelines.