Alcohol Energy Drink Makers Agree to Pull Products, FDA Says

Following a U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) warning letter issued to four companies concerning the <"">caffeine added to their malt alcoholic drinks, the agency announced that some major brands of these drinks should be removed from sale by mid-December, wrote the Las Vegas Sun.

The FDA letters, sent earlier this month, described the caffeine as an “unsafe additive,” and indicate that further action, including seizure of their products, is possible under federal law. The letter also indicated that the caffeine-alcohol mix in the beverages can lead to what it described as a “wide-awake drunk” and have also been linked to “alcohol poisoning, car accidents, and assaults,” wrote the Las Vegas Sun.

Warning letters were sent to:

• Charge Beverages Corp. for its Core High Gravity HG, Core High Gravity HG Orange, and Lemon Lime Core Spiked;

• New Century Brewing Co., LLC for Moonshot;

• Phusion Projects, LLC (doing business as Drink Four Brewing Co.) for Four Loko; and

• United Brands Company Inc. for its Joose and Max.

According to the FDA, Phusion Projects and United Brands Co. stopped shipping their products; the drinks are scheduled to be off store shelves by December 13, wrote the Las Vegas Sun. Charge Beverages and New Century Brewing said they stopped producing their alcoholic energy drinks, and four states have issued bans on the beverages, added the Las Vegas Sun.

FDA examined the published peer-reviewed literature on the co-consumption of caffeine and alcohol; consulted with experts in the fields of toxicology, neuropharmacology, emergency medicine, and epidemiology; and reviewed information provided by product manufacturers. FDA also performed its own independent laboratory analysis of these products.

“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,” said Dr. Joshua M. Sharfstein, Principal Deputy Commissioner previously. “To the contrary, there is evidence that the combinations of caffeine and alcohol in these products pose a public health concern.”

Experts have also raised concerns that caffeine can mask some of the sensory cues individuals might normally rely on to determine their level of intoxication. The FDA said peer-reviewed studies suggest that the consumption of beverages containing added caffeine and alcohol is associated with risky behaviors that may lead to hazardous and life-threatening situations.

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