FDA Moves To End The Sale Of Snortable Chocolate

By Keri Blakinger 12/13/17

The FDA has ordered the company behind the “infused cacao snuff” to immediately shutdown its marketing.

 FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb
FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb recently released a statement about snortable chocolate

On Monday, the FDA issued a warning to the company marketing a snortable chocolate powder, accusing them of peddling unapproved new drugs and promoting them as a legal alternative to street drugs. 

“As a physician and a parent, I’m deeply troubled by the unlawful marketing of these potentially dangerous products, especially since they are so easily accessible by minors,” FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb said in a statement. “Encouraging the use of snortable chocolate as an alternative to illegal street drugs is not acceptable—there are very real consequences to snorting any powder, not to mention the societal dangers of promoting drug abuse.”

Dubbed "Coco Loko," the “infused cacao snuff” boasts a 30-minute high with dubious promises that prompted Sen. Chuck Schumer to brand it “cocaine on training wheels” and call for an FDA investigation earlier this year. 

"This suspect product has no clear health value," Schumer said at the time. "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."

But the company behind the nose candy defended their product in an email to Rolling Stone. "We used research data on the market in Europe," a spokesperson told the magazine. "We have yet to hear of any adverse health issues, and raw cacao products [have] been on the market for over two years." 

While Coco Loko contains some of the ingredients typically found in energy drinks, another product the FDA dinged—"Legal Lean Syrup"—has the opposite effect. Lab testing turned up doxylamine, an antihistamine that isn’t listed on the label but causes drowsiness. It shouldn’t be used with alcohol, and can cause breathing problems for people with asthma, emphysema or chronic bronchitis, according to the FDA. 

“At a time where drug addiction is threatening the fabric of American society, we must take action when we see efforts that may further fuel illicit drug abuse,” Gottlieb said. “We’ll continue to vigorously target bad actors that sell unapproved products, including products that contain undeclared drug ingredients.”

Legal Lean, the company behind both products, could not be reached for comment early Wednesday.

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Keri Blakinger is a former drug user and current reporter living in Texas. She covers breaking news for the Houston Chronicle and previously worked for the New York Daily News and the Ithaca Times. She has written about drugs and criminal justice for the Washington Post, Salon, Quartz and more. She loves dogs and is not impressed by rodeo food. Find Keri on LinkedIn and Twitter.