FDA Investigation of Safety & Legality of Caffeinated Alcoholic Drinks Praised by CSPI

Statement of CSPI Alcohol Policy Director George A. Hacker

November 13, 2009

We strongly support the investigation announced today by the Food and Drug Administration into the safety and legality of caffeinated alcoholic "energy" drinks.

For many years, federal regulators have stood mutely by as these potentially dangerous products, which resemble non-alcoholic energy drinks in many ways, gained in popularity among young people. No studies exist that demonstrate the safety of alcohol and caffeine or other stimulants combined in any quantity, much less the high levels of each found in products like Joose and Four Loko. In fact, emerging research suggests that the young consumers of these products are more likely to be the perpetrator or victim of sexual aggression, to ride with an intoxicated driver, or to become otherwise injured.

Our negotiations with Anheuser-Busch, our lawsuit against MillerCoors, and, importantly, the actions taken by state attorneys general helped get the biggest manufacturers out of this category. We hope the FDAs move today will result in enforcement action that represents the beginning of the end of the category as a whole.

Along with cracking down on unsupportable health claims on cereal, pushing for the elimination of salmonella in eggs and Vibrio bacteria in oysters, and enforcing a ban on candy-flavored cigarettes, this is one of several moves that indicates the new leadership at FDA is serious about protecting public health.


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