A company selling snortable chocolate powder is marketing the snuff as an energy booster, but critics say the product is dangerous and are calling for an investigation into its potential health impacts.
Florida-based Legal Lean sells Choco Loko through its website, but U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer (D-NY) said recently that he expects it to soon hit store shelves in New York State. The senator wrote a letter the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) last month asking the agency to investigate the product.
“I can’t think of a single parent who thinks it is a good idea for their children to be snorting over-the-counter stimulants up their noses,” Schumer said. “This product is like cocaine on training wheels.”
Snorting chocolate powder has become popular in recent years among partygoers in Europe, which is where Legal Lean reportedly got the idea to bring the trend to the US.
“You get a nice minor euphoric rush,” Nick Anderson, the company’s 29-year-old founder, told CNN. “You feel a calm energy and focus. You feel motivated to want to go out and dance or be social.”
The FDA said it will have to evaluate the product to determine if it’s within its jurisdiction. If the FDA acts on Schumer’s request, it wouldn’t be the first time caffeinated products caught the agency’s attention. Four Loko, the fruit flavored alcoholic beverage, cut its caffeine content after the FDA began investigating it and Aeroshot caffeine inhalers changed their labels after the agency warned that its labels were misleading.
The company said that besides chocolate, Choco Loko contains ingredients commonly found in energy drinks, such as gingko biloba, taurine and guarana. Schumer cited a 2015 Mayor Clinic study that found there was a 31-percent increase in adolescents aged 12-17 being rushed to the emergency room for an energy drink-related issue between ’07 and ’11. The company has said it will add labeling stating that it’s not intended for anyone under age 18, but hasn’t said how much caffeine is in Choco Loko.
Local health officials and drug counselors said they haven’t seen any cases involving Choco Loko, which has only been on the market for two months. But some local doctors warn against using it.
“All of the problems that people have with taking too much energy drinks are going to be magnified by doing this through the lungs,” Dr. Paul Pipia, chief medical officer at Nassau University Medical Center, told News 12 Long Island. “It’s going to turn out to not be safe.”