FDA Issues Warning on Caffeinated Alcohol Drinks

Alcoholic energy drinks are a "public health concern.”

FDA Issues Warning on Caffeinated Alcohol Drinks

Alcoholic energy drinks are a “public health concern.”

-Jane Farrell

Caffeinated alcoholic beverages

Generally, caffeine isn’t unsafe—except when it’s combined with alcohol, which is what’s been happening lately with the brisk sales of caffeinated drinks that include booze as well. And the federal government, prompted by its own research as well as reports of deaths related to the drinks, cracked down by issuing a warning to four manufacturers.

The warning, which called caffeine an “unsafe food additive” when added to the malt beverage in the drinks, targeted the following drinks and manufacturers:

• Core High Gravity HG, Core High Gravity HG Orange, and Lemon Lime Core Spiked (Charge Beverage Co.)
• Moonshot (New Century Brewing Co., LLC)
• Four Loko (Phusion Projects, LLC ,doing business as Drink Four Brewing Co.)
• Joose and Max: United Brands Company Inc.

Read Study: Alcohol is the Most Dangerous Drug

The FDA said on its website that the drinks were a “public health concern” and warned the manufacturers that if they didn’t start taking steps to eliminate caffeine in the beverages, the federal government could seize the product. The manufacturer of Four Loko has already said it will remove caffeine from its drinks.

Four states—Michigan, Oklahoma, Utah and Washington—have issued outright bans on the sales of the drinks. Other states, including Connecticut, Massachusetts, New Jersey and New York—have moved toward some restrictions, according to the website boston.com. In New York state, for example, some beer distributors have said they will stop delivering the beverages by Dec. 10.

The drinks are popular among 18- to 25-year olds. At least two deaths in Florida have been linked to use of the drinks: in one case, a teenager died after drinking a caffeinated alcoholic beverage and taking diet pills. In another case, a 20-year-old shot himself after drinking several cans over a period of hours. (boston; fda)

Jane Farrell is a senior editor at BettyConfidential.

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