Companies that have begun marketing drinks that combine alcohol with caffeine will have to
answer to the FDA, the agency announced.
Caffeine is not on the agency's list of ingredients that may be legally added to alcoholic beverages, Sharfstein said in a telephone press conference.
In addition, he said, several recent studies have indicated that combining caffeine with alcohol is very unsafe. (See APHA: Mixing Alcohol and Energy Drinks Heightens Injury Risk and Energy Drink Labels Don't Predict High Caffeine Jolt)
The agency decided to investigate after receiving a letter signed by 18 state attorneys general and one city attorney urging the FDA to take action against such beverages.
The letter cited research indicating that the combination drinks heightened the risk of motor vehicle accidents and sexual assaults, Sharfstein said.
Under pressure from state authorities, two big marketers of alcoholic beverages, MillerCoors and Anheuser-Busch, had previously agreed to pull combination drinks named Bud Extra, Tilt, and Sparks off the market.
However, smaller companies are still selling drinks with as much caffeine as a cup of coffee and up to 9.9% alcohol under such names as LiquidCharge, Joose, and Four Loko.
I've never tried the beverages under scrutiny, and the few "energy" drinks I've tried taste like (what I imagine to be) weasel piss. But what about Kahlua? Or a shot of Bailey's (perfect on a snowy morning) in your coffee? Back when I was bar tending, I learned to mix a whole slew of coffee drinks. Will the FDA be coming after those?
Wish they'd focus there energy on e. coli and such, instead.