FDA to probe alcoholic energy drinks

Chris Rizo Nov. 13, 2009, 2:00pm

Rob McKenna (R-Wash.)

Terry Goddard (D-Ariz.)

WASHINGTON (Legal Newsline)-At the urging of a group of state attorneys general, the U.S. government Friday announced it was investigating super-caffeinated alcoholic drinks.

State officials have said the concoctions may not be safe and that they are being marketed to young drinkers especially.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration said Friday it is requesting that manufacturers of alcoholic energy drinks support claims that the drinks are safe. Manufacturers have 30 days to provide evidence their products are safe.

"The increasing popularity of consumption of caffeinated alcoholic beverages by college students and reports of potential health and safety issues necessitates that we look seriously at the scientific evidence as soon as possible," said Dr. Joshua Sharfstein, FDA's principal deputy commissioner of food and drugs.

Among companies receiving the FDA letter are: Mix Master Beverage Co. of Stateline, Nev., Blank Beverages Co. of San Diego, Calif., and Phusion Projects LLC of Chicago as well as Los Angeles-based Joose Beverage and Portland, Ore.-based Charge Beverages.

Eighteen state attorneys generals this year called on the FDA to investigate alcoholic beverages containing caffeine and other stimulants, such as guarana.

"Alcohol plus caffeine equals a serious health threat, especially for young people," Washington Attorney General Rob McKenna said. "The jolt of caffeine or other stimulants masks the feeling of intoxication. Health professionals say that leads to more risk-taking behavior, traffic accidents, violence, sexual assault, and suicide."

Last year, 25 state attorneys general pressured MillerCoors Brewing to stop selling Sparks Red, an energy drink with alcohol. In June, Anheuser-Busch agreed to reformulate its Tilt and Bud Extra drinks to remove the stimulants as part of a settlement with 11 state attorneys general.

"The FDA should move quickly to take all necessary action to protect consumers, particularly young people whom the manufacturers of these products are targeting with their marketing," Arizona Attorney General Terry Goddard said.

From Legal Newsline: Reach staff reporter Chris Rizo at chrisrizo@legalnewsline.com.

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