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Iowa officials produce alcohol calculator, aim for phone app

BY REBECCA MORIN | JANUARY 24, 2013 5:00 AM

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After a long week, some individuals grab a few drinks and let loose for a couple of hours.

However, there are some consequences that can arise from a little too much alcohol — especially when you can’t tell how much you’re drinking.

The Iowa Alcoholic Beverage Division launched a mobile site called CALCohol in November 2012.
“Today the amount of alcohol is blurred among the lines of wine, beer, and liquor,” said Shannon Pogones, the education and outreach administrator of Iowa Alcoholic Beverage Division.

CALCohol allows the user to calculate standard drink sizes and the number of alcohol servings per container.

“Products ready to drink can be calculated using CALCohol,” said Pogones.  “If a product is around 24 ounces, they can have four to five drinks versus a product that is 12 ounces that has one drink.”

However, CALCohol isn’t just aimed at consumers, it is also aimed to educate bar owners and licensees, Pogones said. Although CALCohol is at its preliminary stage, new developments are being made so it could be easily accessed.

“Iowa interactive is working on making a phone app, but right now, we are still trying to get feedback and the word out,” Pogones said.

Although CALCohol can be useful, the community is still uncertain about how much the site will be used.

“I don’t know if it will result in making any lower risk choices, but for people who don’t want to drink as much will find it helpful,” said Kelly Bender, the University of Iowa’s community harm reduction initiatives coordinator.

CALCohol is helpful as an education tool, but there are other precautions that have been useful for years. Local bar owners ensure their employees monitor the alcohol content in a drink.

“We train our employees to heavily monitor the amount of alcohol in a drink,” said Bo-James owner Leah Cohen.

Other local bar owners have taken the same precautions when it comes to serving alcoholic beverages, including training from both the manager and from the state.

“All employees must be I-PACT certified, and we also provided extensive training,” said George Etre, owner of Formosa and Takanami.

I-PACT is an alcohol compliance training provided by the state of Iowa.  However, bars cannot just be accounted for when monitoring the amount of alcohol a consumer consumes.

UI students said they had doubts about how much the site would be used.

“I think it sounds like a good idea and will work for some people, but I personally wouldn’t use it,” said UI student Karina McGowan.


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