For Immediate Release
Media Contact: Bob Cooper
(208) 334-4112

Date: November 17, 2010

Attorney General Wasden Praises FDA Action on Alcohol Energy Drinks

(Boise) - Attorney General Lawrence Wasden praised the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) action today on alcohol energy drinks (AEDs). The FDA issued warning letters to four manufacturers of AEDs, including popular brands Four Loko and Joose. The FDA stated that the caffeine in the manufacturers’ alcohol beverages is an ‘unsafe food additive,’ making these products illegal under federal law.

AEDs are alcohol beverages to which caffeine and other stimulants, such as guarana, have been added at the point of manufacture. Some AEDs like Four Loko contain the alcohol equivalent of 5 or 6 beers and the caffeine equivalent of 4 to 5 colas or 1.5 to 2 cups of coffee in just one can.

“Today’s action by the FDA represents a significant and necessary step forward in removing these dangerous products from the market,” Attorney General Wasden said. “These products attract young people who wrongly believe that the caffeine will offset the intoxicating effects of the alcohol. The caffeine often fools them into thinking they are not as intoxicated as they actually are. They proceed to engage in conduct extremely dangerous to themselves and others. We’ve had too many situations across the country of young people requiring hospitalization or losing their lives as a result of overconsumption of these drinks.”

Last year, Wasden joined other state attorneys general in asking the FDA to determine that the use of caffeine in alcohol beverages is not ‘generally recognized as safe,’ under federal law. In support of that request, the Attorneys General submitted a report by experts in medicine, forensic toxicology, and public health documenting the dangers presented by these beverages, whose caffeine and other stimulant ingredients mask, but do not offset, alcohol intoxication. Over the past year, medical and public health research has continued to confirm the dangers presented, particularly among young people.

Wasden and other attorneys general have taken previous actions regarding AEDs. As a result, MillerCoors Brewing and Anheuser-Busch responsibly agreed to cease production of caffeinated alcohol beverages altogether. However, smaller AED manufacturers introduced products in larger containers and containing a higher percentage of alcohol, up to 12% alcohol by volume.

The FDA’s warning letters require that the manufacturers take prompt action to correct their violations of federal law, and that failure to do so may result in enforcement action.

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