Attention Moscow Mule Fans: Those Copper Mugs May Pose a Serious Health Threat

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Even if you can’t list the ingredients in a Moscow Mule, you may be able to recognize one from across a bar: The simple combination of vodka, lime juice, and ginger beer is traditionally served in a copper mug. But that trendy vessel could pose a serious health threat, according to public health officials. As CBS News reports, the potential for food poisoning from those iconic cups is severe enough that the state of Iowa is taking a stand against them.

Copper is commonly used to make kitchenware like pots and pans, but when it comes into contact with certain foods, it can be unsafe. Foods and liquids that have a pH lower than 6.0, and are therefore acidic, can erode the copper and copper alloys and cause them to mix with whatever’s being consumed. The pH of lime juice falls between 2.0 and 2.35 [PDF], so the chances of copper contamination from a Moscow Mule sloshing inside a copper mug all night are high.

Symptoms of copper poisoning include vomiting, abdominal pain, diarrhea, and yellow skin or jaundice. Even if you feel fine after a night of Moscow Mule imbibing, long-term effects like liver damage can occur over time. In response to these hazards, Iowa’s Alcoholic Beverages Division released a statement [PDF] advising against the use of Moscow Mule mugs. “The recent popularity of Moscow Mules, an alcoholic cocktail typically served in a copper mug, has led to inquiries regarding the safe use of copper mugs and this beverage,” it reads. “The use of copper and copper alloys as a food contact surface is limited in Iowa.”

If you’re hesitant to put your Moscow Mule obsession to bed, there are ways to enjoy the drink safely without sacrificing the classic look. When stocking your bar at home, make sure to include copper mugs lined with food-safe metal like nickel or stainless steel. And when you’re ordering the drink elsewhere, you can check with the bartender to see if they have similar containers. If not, asking for the drink in a boring old glass is your safest bet.

[h/t CBS News]

Ground Beef Targeted by Massive Recall Might Still Be in Your Freezer

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More than 132,000 pounds of ground beef produced by Cargill Meat Solutions were recalled on September 19 due to a risk of E. coli O26, according to a news release from the USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service. The affected beef was produced and packaged on June 21, so you may want to check your freezer for any burger patties or homemade bolognese sauce you stored away over the summer.

“FSIS is concerned that some product may be frozen and in consumers’ freezers,” the agency said in a statement. “Consumers who have purchased these products are urged not to consume them. These products should be thrown away or returned to the place of purchase.”

Cargill Meat Solutions is based in Colorado, but these products have been shipped across the country. One death and 17 illnesses have been linked to the outbreak so far, with the dates of illness ranging from July 5 to July 25. According to the FSIS, people usually become ill within three to four days of exposure to E. coli O26. Symptoms include diarrhea (often bloody) and vomiting.

The recalled products have the establishment number “EST. 86R” inside the USDA inspection mark on the package. To see the 12 varieties of ground beef that were affected, click the following link [PDF].

The 'Pet First Aid' App From the Red Cross Prepares Pet Parents for Almost Any Situation

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People who have owned a cat or dog for years know intimate facts about their pet's health—like how many pairs of shoes they can eat without getting sick, or how many hours a day they can sleep without warranting a trip to the vet. But pet parents just starting out are often left in the dark when it comes to decoding their fur baby's behaviors. The Red Cross aims to demystify the process of raising a pet with a new app called Pet First Aid.

As Life Hacker reports, the first aid app is designed to prepare pet parents for a range of situations regarding their pet's health. If your dog is panting particularly hard after a long walk, the app will tell you if their breathing rate is normal; if your cat looks dehydrated, it can show you how to test its capillary refill time.

The resource is best used as a study tool, so if a pet health emergency does occur, you'll be prepared for it. After reading up on guides detailing pet CPR and how to treat a pet that's bleeding, you can test your animal-care knowledge with built-in quizzes.

The Red Cross makes it clear that its app is no replacement for a licensed medical professional, and even gives you the option to upload your vet's phone number or search for nearby animal hospitals within the app. Hopefully, the app's features for non-emergency situations, like its pet-friendly hotel locator, will get the most use.

You can download Pet First Aid for free from the Google Play store.

[h/t Life Hacker]

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