FDA Says Caffeinated Alcoholic Beverages Are Unsafe

Wednesday, November 17th 2010, 11:19 am
By: News 9

Staff and Wire Reports

OKLAHOMA CITY -- After consulting with health experts, examining studies and performing a study of its own, the Food and Drug Administration has announced caffeine is an unsafe additive to alcohol.

The FDA said caffeine can mask a person's perception of the actual affects of alcohol, leaving people to feel less impaired than they actually are, and it does not change a person's blood alcohol level.

The FDA sent out warning letters to four manufacturers of seven different caffeinated alcoholic beverages. The letters stated the drinks do not meet the requirement for safety thus violating federal law, and the manufacturers have 15 days to respond on "how they will act to protect consumers."

The government can seize the products if the companies continue to make them.

Phusion Projects, which manufactures a popular caffeinated alcoholic drink called Four Loko, announced late Tuesday that it would reformulate its drinks, removing caffeine.

During a teleconference, FDA officials said caffeinated alcoholic beverages have been connected to "several hospitalizations, an apparent heart attack and at least one death."

In response to such incidents, four states -- Washington, Michigan, Utah and Oklahoma -- have banned the beverages. Other states are considering similar action.

An official with the CDC said the beverages are a serious public health concern and can enable binge drinking, especially among young people.

The ABLE Commission released the following information regarding the FDA's warning letters: "The ABLE Commission does not foresee taking any immediate action to require wholesalers or retailers to remove Four Loko from their shelves, the ABLE Commission encourages all consumers and ABLE licensees to review and carefully consider the warnings published by the FDA this afternoon."

In the media teleconference held at noon Wednesday, noted authorities spoke about the controversial beverages, including representatives from the FDA, Alcohol and Tobacco tax and Trade Bureau and Centers for Disease Control.

Earlier this month, the Malt Beverage Distributors Association urged members to voluntarily remove the alcohol and energy drink called Four Loko from their shelves because of health and safety concerns.

Oklahoma Attorney General applauded the FDA's position on the concerns about the caffeinated alcoholic beverages.

Last year, Oklahoma Attorney General Drew Edmondson joined attorney generals throughout the country to investigate whether the use of caffeine in alcoholic beverages was under FDA regulations to be "generally recognized as safe."