Schumer: Selling snortable chocolate ‘Coco Loko’ is just plain crazy
‘Like cocaine on training wheels’
U.S. Sen. Chuck Schumer has raised the alarm about a snortable chocolate powder being marketed to youth as a legal drug.
On Monday, Schumer called on the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to formally launch an investigation into “Coco Loko,” a new product that he says isn’t “real chocolate.” Coco Loko contains powdered chocolate with added stimulants and instructs users to snort it directly through the nasal cavity.
Coco Loko, created by the Florida-based company Legal Lean is made of cacao powder, along with gingko biloba, taurine and guarana, ingredients commonly found in energy drinks. These ingredients have been linked with an increase in blood pressure and may cause heart palpitations when ingested, according to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC).
Coco Loko has already hit store shelves “and New York is next,” Schumer said in a release.
“The math for the FDA is clear: This suspect product has no clear health value,” Schumer said. “It is falsely held up to be chocolate, when it is a powerful stimulant. And they market it like a drug — and they tell users to take it like a drug, by snorting it. It is crystal clear that the FDA needs to wake up and launch a formal investigation into so-called Coco Loko before too many of our young people are damaged by it.”
He added, “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. This product is like cocaine on training wheels.”
According to the Legal Lean website, the product provides consumers with an endorphin rush, a serotonin rush, euphoric energy and calm focus. The company says the product will produce an elevated mood and a “state of euphoria” similar to the feeling of ecstasy.
Legal Lean also says the product is “a new mood-boosting drink made to help you unwind after a stressful day. You can also cool down after a workout, or chill before bed. Our mixture of herbs and nutrients promotes a state of enhanced rest and bliss. This helps the body and mind find peace.”
Nick Anderson, the 29-year-old founder of Legal Lean, told the Washington Post he heard about a “chocolate-snorting trend” in Europe a few months ago.
“At first, I was like, ‘Is this a hoax?,’” he recalled. “And then I tried it and it was like, okay, this is the future right here.”
Schumer says the company did not consult with any medical professionals when producing the product and its website does not provide any information on caffeine content.
According to a 2015 Mayo Clinic study, drinking one 16-ounce energy drink can increase blood pressure and stress hormone responses significantly. The study expressed concern that these response changes could increase the risk of cardiovascular events. In 2007, 1,145 adolescents aged 12-17 went to the emergency room for an energy drink related emergency; in 2011 that number climbed to 1,499.
Schumer is especially worried about the health effects of the product on adolescents. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that persons aged 12-18 not exceed 100 mg of caffeine day, or the amount of caffeine in one cup of coffee.
In a disclaimer at the bottom of their website, Legal Lean says, “Although the herbal extracts and proprietary chemicals are fully compliant under federal law, Legal Lean is not for minors.”
Doctors warned that inhaling caffeine that is combined with other powdered food could cause concern for individuals with asthma, Schumer said.
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