Aficionados 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