In a blow to drowsy drinkers everywhere, the FDA has just placed restrictions on the sale of caffeinated alcoholic drinks (energy booze?). They have given the manufacturers of these drinks an ultimatum: get rid of the caffeine, or close up shop. A few individual states have banned the drinks on their own in recent months, after a rash of alcohol poisoning deaths linked to brand Four Loko.
It appears that the very reason many people like having caffeine with alcohol ““ that it keeps you awake and can mask your feelings of inebriation ““ make it dangerous to consumers. As a result, the FDA has declared caffeine to be an unlawful additive to alcohol. According to existing FDA regulations, the only beverages that are allowed to have caffeine added are soft drinks. So, the makers of these drinks never had the right to add caffeine in the first place.
The producers of Four Loko have already (wisely) announced they are removing caffeine from their drinks to comply with the new crackdown. In addition to the dangers of the caffeine itself, the drinks are sold in bright packaging and come in fruity flavors that appear to be popular with underage drinkers.
It’s interesting to consider that caffeine and alcohol can be such a dangerous combination; after all, drinks like Jack and Cokes or Red Bull and vodka nave been popular for years. While it’s certainly an encouraging step to see the FDA act so quickly in response to a public health problem, it does seem like a quick, PR-friendly quick for a serious systemic problem. It will be interesting to see what effect a band of this kind will have in the long term.
Source: New York Times