FDA bans alcohol energy drinks
The federal Food and Drug Administration (FDA) on Wednesday banned manufactured alcoholic energy drinks (AEDs), saying that caffeine is an unsafe additive.
The agency said in a statement shortly after announcing the ban that the ban did not include beer brewed with coffee, chocolate or tea as many in the craft industry had feared. The ban is only for those drinks that add a caffeine concentrate.
The agency’s action comes after nine college students in Washington state were hospitalized for alcohol poisoning last month when they drank Four Loko, one of the most popular caffeinated malt beverages. In the weeks since, five states – New York, Massachusetts, Michigan, Washington, Utah and Oklahoma – have banned AED sales. It has always been illegal for those under 21 to purchase AEDs.
The drinks are sold under the brand names Core High Gravity HG, Core High Gravity HG Orange, Lemon Lime Core Spiked, Moonshot, Four Loko, Joose and Max.
Besides banning caffeine in the beverages, the FDA warned four AED manufacturers – Charge Beverages Corp., New Century Brewing Co., Phusion Projects and United Brands Company Inc. – that seizure of their products is possible.
One of those companies, Phusion Projects, the Chicago-based maker of Four Loko, said it would reformulate the beverage, dropping caffeine and other stimulants. (Those include guarana, an energy-boosting dietary supplement containing 2%-4.5% caffeine – about twice the amount in coffee beans – and taurine, an amino acid that raises alertness.) Going forward, the company will only produce non caffeinated beverages, according to a statement.