Caffeinated alcohol

Booze Buzz Ban

In November the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) warned 27 manufacturers that they may be violating the law by selling alcoholic beverages that contain caffeine. Although the FDA allows the use of caffeine in soft drinks, it has never approved mixing the stimulant with alcohol. Unless the companies can demonstrate that this particular use of caffeine is “generally recognized as safe,” the FDA said, they have to take their products off the market.

The targeted products included caffeinated malt beverages such as Joose, caffeinated vodkas such as PINK, and even coffee-infused beer, such as the Ithaca Beer Company’s Eleven, a stout produced to mark the brewery’s 11th anniversary. Anheuser-Busch and Miller- Coors had already stopped selling caffeinated malt beverages (Tilt and Sparks, respectively) under pressure from 18 attorneys general and the Center for Science in the Public Interest, which sued MillerCoors over its marketing of Sparks.

The critics argue that adding caffeine to alcohol makes people underestimate their drunkenness. They cite a 2007 survey by researchers at Wake Forest University that found college students who consumed cocktails based on energy drinks such as Red Bull were twice as likely as other drinkers to be injured in accidents, to ride with intoxicated drivers, and to be involved in regrettable sexual incidents. The researchers did not consider the possibility that such associations can be explained by the risk-taking propensities of young drinkers who favor trendy concoctions such as the Annihilator or the Jager Bomb, as opposed to the special dangers of combining alcohol with caffeine.

In any case, the FDA has no power to stop Americans from mixing such politically incorrect cocktails, as long as the products used to create them are sold separately. Nor can it prohibit such scary innovations as Irish coffee or rum and Coke.

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  • Dr. John Grohol||

    The author actually got this a little wrong. The authors of the Wake Forest study did indeed mention the fact that theirs was not a causal study and that risk-seeking individuals may be drawn to energy drinks. You can see their poster presentation based upon the same dataset here:

    http://www.cspinet.org/new/pdf/obrien.pdf

    And of course it's silly and cherry-picking the research to suggest this is the only study that has found the non-surprising impact that caffeine has on a person when they drink it with alcohol. We know from other research, too, that imbibing these drinks leads to impairments in judgment of the level of one's intoxication. This should be a surprise to who?

    The key here is just like the key was with cigarettes in the 1960s and 1970s -- not that they were just unsafe, but that the manufacturers targeted young people and teens with a specific version of their product designed to increase consumption.

  • abercrombie milano||

    My only point is that if you take the Bible straight, as I'm sure many of Reasons readers do, you will see a lot of the Old Testament stuff as absolutely insane. Even some cursory knowledge of Hebrew and doing some mathematics and logic will tell you that you really won't get the full deal by just doing regular skill english reading for those books. In other words, there's more to the books of the Bible than most will ever grasp. I'm not concerned that Mr. Crumb will go to hell or anything crazy like that! It's just that he, like many types of religionists, seems to take it literally, take it straight...the Bible's books were not written by straight laced divinity students in 3 piece suits who white wash religious beliefs as if God made them with clothes on...the Bible's books were written by people with very different mindsets...in order to really get the Books of the Bible, you have to cultivate such a mindset, it's literally a labyrinth, that's no joke.

  • abercrombie milano||

    I don't got your point. But thank you all the same.

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