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Caffeine and Alcohol: Is it Safe? The FDA vs. Beverage Companies

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Caffeine and Alcohol: Is it safe? The Food and Drug Administration today asked this question to 30 beverage companies, pressuring them to prove that the combination is safe for consumers to drink. The FDA has previously approved the addition of caffeine to soft drinks but has not formally approved it for alcoholic drinks.

The companies have 30 days to prove that their drinks are not harmful to buyers or the FDA will be forced to take further action. These drinks have already been approved by the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade bureau and will provide the beverage companies with a defense against the allegations.

Much of the pressures on the FDA came from local governments who found the beverages appeal to underage drinkers a serious concern. Also the combination is said to create what officials describe as ‘an alert drunk.’ The mixture of a depressant with a stimulant causes one to feel energized and alert. They then may assume they have the ability to perform tasks, such as operating a vehicle. Actions they would otherwise decide against if the drink had not been mixed with caffeine.

MillerCoors LLC was one of the first companies to put an alcoholic energy drink on the market. The product Sparks cost $2.29 and was advertised as a malt beverage with the main active ingredient being caffeine as well as other ingredients found in most energy drinks on the market. The drink has since removed caffeine and other ingredients due to pressures from the FDA. More recently alcoholic energy drinks have entered the market with private distributors under names like Joose and Charge.

The FDA has previously approved the addition of caffeine to soft drinks but has not formally approved it for alcoholic drinks.

Energy drinks have been under scrutiny since their rise in popularity in the early 2000’s.
The drinks are most often used as a stimulant to give an immediate, short term burst of energy to the consumer. Because of the high level of sugar in these drinks a ‘crash’ occurs after a period time when the side effects seem to wear off and the drink leaves you feeling lethargic.

Add a Comment3 Comments

Are the beverage companies responsible for creating rum & coke? Red Bull & Vodka? etc? I am not sure but if they are then yes they should have to answer how they came up with that combination and how it's safe. I am not a big drinker but to the question: "who wants to be tired and drunk?" Alcohol is a depressant and I believe that drinkers would know this by now so those who choose to drink know what they're in for.

I'm glad the FDA is doing something about this.

November 16, 2009 - 7:16am
EmpowHER Guest

As I sit here drinking my rum & coke several things come to mind.

First off, what's the point? Caffeine has been mixed with alcohol for decades (ala the aforementioned rum & coke). With this action they would basically be saying beverage makers can't sell certain premixed drinks. They can sell vodka and red bull, but not together, but the bar can mix those up for you, no problem. wtf?

Second, this is being pitched as an effort to address underage drinkers to whom these sugary energy drinks supposedly appeal. I'd like to see any sort of data to support that claim. Thinking back to my underage times we drank the cheapest stuff we could find to get drunk -- typically low end liquor or more often beer -- not expensive fancy energy drinks.

Finally, on the subject of seeing data to support these claims, why oh why is this suddenly on the beverage companies to prove? Isn't this the land of innocent until proven guilty, where the burden of proof rests with the state? It seems like the FDA just came out of nowhere, made a general claim and said prove us wrong or you're in trouble. Nice.

November 15, 2009 - 12:24pm
EmpowHER Guest
Anonymous (reply to Anonymous)

Well put... This is a load a bs. Who wants to be tired and drunk? Stop trying to dictate our lives!

November 15, 2009 - 6:35pm
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