FDA Warns Makers Of Alcoholic Energy Drinks

Earlier today, there was speculation that the FDA might issue a declaration that effectively bans alcoholic beverages that contain caffeine and other stimulants. While the agency opted to not go to such lengths, it did announce that caffeine added to malt liquor qualifies as an “unsafe food additive” and sent warning letters to the makers of seven different drinks, giving them 15 days to come up with a plan for remedying the violation.

Letters were sent to the following four companies, which are responsible for a total of seven stimulant/booze combos:
• Charge Beverages Corp.: Core High Gravity HG, Core High Gravity HG Orange, and Lemon Lime Core Spiked
• New Century Brewing Co., LLC: Moonshot
• Phusion Projects, LLC (doing business as Drink Four Brewing Co.): Four Loko
• United Brands Company Inc.: Joose and Max

Says an FDA official:

FDA does not find support for the claim that the addition of caffeine to these alcoholic beverages is ‘generally recognized as safe,’ which is the legal standard. To the contrary, there is evidence that the combinations of caffeine and alcohol in these products pose a public health concern.

The companies now have 15 days to respond in writing to the FDA to detail the “specific steps that will be taken to remedy the violation and prevent its recurrence.”

If any of these companies disagree and believe they are not in violation of the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act, the FDA asks them to respond with supporting material for their position.

Should any of the warned companies continue to operate in violation of the FFDCA, the agency may “pursue an enforcement action that could include seizure of the products or an injunction to prevent the firm from continuing to produce the product until the violation has been corrected.”

Yesterday, the makers of the most controversial of these drinks, Four Loko, announced that it would be altering its recipe to remove caffeine from the beverages, making them just another flavored malt liquor.

Says the FDA about this decision:

FDA views this announcement as a positive step. FDA has not yet heard officially from the company about this announcement, including how quickly it will remove present product from circulation and how quickly it will reformulate its product.

The agency says that they did not issue warnings to companies that make beverages which “contain caffeine as a natural constituent of one or more of their ingredients, such as a coffee flavoring.”

As you can see from our earlier post on this topic, an overwhelming number of poll respondents disagree with any sort of legislation that would ban or outlaw caffeinated alcoholic beverages.

Info from the FDA:
FDA Warning Letters issued to four makers of caffeinated alcoholic beverages
Caffeinated Alcoholic Beverages
Serious Concerns Over Alcoholic Beverages with Added Caffeine