This Could Be Last Call for Alcoholic Energy Drinks, Says FDA

By Brett Israel | November 16, 2009 2:46 pm

sparks-drink-webAficionados of 3AM Vodka, Max Fury, and Slingshot Party Gel, take heed! The Food and Drug Administration is casting a wary eye on your classy energy drinks. The federal agency has requested proof from the drink manufacturers that these combinations of caffeine and alcohol are, in fact, safe to drink. The FDA never has approved the addition of caffeine to an alcoholic beverage, and a task force of state attorneys general and other officials has urged the agency to scrutinize the combination. The task force argues that the caffeine can mask the intoxicating effects of alcohol, possibly leading to an increase in drunk driving, sexual assault and other destructive behavior [Los Angeles Times]. Since the FDA never approved the drinks in the first place, the burden of proof falls on the manufacturers, and now the FDA is forcing their hands.

And the FDA isn’t joking around. Companies including Diageo North America Inc., Constellation Brands Inc. and United Brands Co. were told that unless they could provide evidence of safety, the agency will “take appropriate action to ensure that these products are removed from the marketplace,” according to letters sent to the companies and released by the agency [Bloomberg]. The drink companies now have 30 days to respond to the request.

The FDA decided to take action after 18 state attorneys general sent a letter to the agency in September, raising concerns that the drinks appeal to young people and can foster drunk driving [The Wall Street Journal]. The FDA argues that even though caffeine has already been approved, it’s being used by drink manufactures in an illegal way that wasn’t specifically approved. Previous studies have linked alcoholic energy drinks to risky behaviors, and several state attorneys general succeeded last year in getting big-beer manufacturers Anheuser-Busch and MillerCoors to pull the caffeine from their popular drinks Sparks and Tilt [NPR News].

The drink makers are keeping quiet on the issue, but even if the FDA decides to pull the drinks off the shelves, you could still get your stimulant/depressant fix at your favorite watering hole. Jager bombs, anyone?

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Image: flickr / edkohler

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Health & Medicine
  • Kyle

    Does this mean an end to Irish coffee and all other coffee alcohol beverages?

  • Jenita

    I have to say, people have been drinking rum and coke for decades. Coke has caffeine. Why is it that just now they are investigating the mixture of alcohol and caffeine? A rum and coke is ok? An Irish coffee is ok? Well, why is a vodka red bull so bad?

  • Bob Snyder

    No, all of the drinks you mentioned are mixed together post manufacturing. The ones the FDA are questioning are ‘alcoholic energy drinks’. They can’t control what you mix your vodka with, but they can control a manufacturer from mixing liquor and energy drinks and selling it. Regardless of this ruling, you will still be able to get a vodka and Red Bull or an Irish coffee, cherry bomb, etc.

    All of the products on this page could potentially be affected.

  • Cory

    Please, oh please, government, protect me from myself!

  • Sobriety

    The definitions surrounding alcohol, alcoholics, alcohol abuse, well, they are extremely open-ended, sometimes can seem very subjective, and at best confusing. No two people really have the same definition or idea about what alcohol abuse really is. Each person experiences alcohol in such a different way. It causes so many different physical, and physiological changes in people, it is hard to set boundaries broad-range and across the board.


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