November 26, 2010
Makers of Caffeinated Alcoholic Beverages Cease Production After Receiving Warning Letters from the FTC and FDA
On Oct. 17, 2010, the FTC issued warning letters to the manufacturers of caffeinated alcoholic beverages that their beverages may constitute an unfair or deceptive practice that violates the FTC Act, citing incidents “suggesting that alcohol containing added caffeine presents unusual risks to health and safety.” Here's the list of manufacturers and the brands at issue.
United Brands Co., which sells Joose and Max caffeinated alcohol beverages. The carbonated malt beverages come in fruity flavors, and one 23.5-ounce can of Joose or Max has about the same alcohol content as four regular or five light beers.
Phusion Products LLC, which sells Four Loko and Four Maxed carbonated malt beverages offered in fruity flavors. Four Loko is sold in 23.5-ounce cans, which have the same alcohol content as four regular or five light beers, as well as added caffeine, taurine, and guarana. Four Maxed is sold in 16-ounce cans, which have the same alcohol content as about three regular beers and contain added caffeine.
Charge Beverages Corporation, which sells Core High Gravity, Core Spiked, and El Jefe carbonated malt beverages sold in fruit flavors, with added caffeine, taurine, guarana, and ginseng. One 23.5-ounce can of Core High Gravity or Core Spiked contains the same alcohol content as four regular or five light beers. A 32-ounce can of grape-flavored El Jefe has the same alcohol content as six regular or seven light beers.
New Century Brewing Company, which sells the caffeinated malt alcohol beverage Moonshot. A 12-ounce bottle of Moonshot contains 5 percent alcohol by volume.
On Nov. 17, 2010, FDA also issued warning letters to the manufacturers that their caffeinated alcoholic beverages are a "public health concern" and cannot stay on the market in their current form because as used in their products, caffeine is an “unsafe food additive” under the Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act. Experts have said the caffeine used in the beverages can mask the effects of alcohol, leaving drinkers unaware of how intoxicated they are. The FDA is now reporting that the manufacturers are ceasing production of the targeted beverages. Details here. [JH]