A September letter from 18 state attorneys general and San Francisco City Attorney Dennis Herrera to the federal Food and Drug Administration has resulted in an inquiry into the safety of caffeine-infused alcoholic beverages.
The FDA today notified 27 manufacturers of the so-called alcoholic “energy” drinks that it is now weighing whether caffeine can legally be added to alcoholic beverages.
The beverages “create ‘wide-awake drunks’ who pose a great danger to themselves and others,” Herrera said in a statement today applauding the FDA action.
“We hope the companies that produce these drinks and target youth with their products will take the responsible step and remove these dangerous products from the marketplace immediately,” Herrera said.
The increasing popularity of the drinks among college students “and reports of potential health and safety issues necessitates that we look seriously at the scientific evidence as soon as possible,” Dr. Joshua Sharfstein, the FDA’s principal deputy commissioner of food and drugs, said in a prepared statement.
The FDA has not approved the addition of caffeine to alcoholic beverages, so under federal law, the manufacturers must provide evidence it is safe.
If not, the FDA will take action to remove the products from the marketplace, the agency said.
In the past year, Anheuser-Busch and Miller agreed to discontinue their caffeinated alcoholic drinks, Tilt, Bud Extra and Sparks.
Some of the drinks now under scrutiny include Liquid Charge, Joose, Torque, Hard Wired, 24/7, Evil Eye, Smirnoff Raw Tea Malt Beverage, Slingshot Party Gel and Booya Espresso Silver Tequila with Caffeine.
Herrera, California Attorney General Jerry Brown and attorneys general from Illinois and New York, among others, sent a Sept. 25 letter to the FDA urging it take a look at the alleged health and safety hazards of the drinks.
They cited recent scientific and medical research that caffeine can mask the intoxicating effects of alcohol, and could lead to risky behavior, traffic accidents, violence, sexual assault and suicide.