Caffeinated Alcohol Beverages Targeted

November 12/New York/States News Service -- The Washington State Liquor Control Board imposed a ban on caffeinated alcohol beverages, following on the heels of a similar ban imposed the week prior in Michigan, and New York might not be far behind.

U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer (D-NY) called on the State Liquor Authority "to halt sales of caffeinated alcoholic drinks, describing them as 'a toxic and dangerous brew' sickening young people around the country," reports The New York Times.

The newspaper writes that in recent months, cases of students and others who are ending up in hospitals after drinking "Four Loko and other beverages" that blend caffeine and alcohol are causing concern. Doctors say the drinks are "dangerous" because the caffeine masks the effects of the alcohol, therefore masking how intoxicated someone consuming the drinks may actually be.

Colleges such as the University of Rhode Island and Ramapo College in New Jersey have banned caffeinated alcohol drinks from campus, the Wall Street Journal reports, noting that Pennsylvania regulators "have urged distributors to stop selling the products," and in Chicago, city council members have introduced a proposal to ban the drinks.

The Indianapolis Star reports that state liquor stores are asking state regulators to "look at the possibility of banning the sale" of the drinks. "Given the many problems that this product has created across the nation among our young people, halting the sale in our community is the responsible thing to do," said Greg Boesch, a local liquor store owner and board member of the Indiana Association of Beverage Retailers.

The FDA began reviewing whether the drinks are safe for consumption in 2009, which Schumer believes has been ample time. "It's about time they hurry up with their report...before more tragedies occur," he said.

Phusion Projects, maker of Four Loko, issued a response: "Until the FDA concludes its examination, our intent and our commitment to you is that if you reach the conclusion that combining caffeine with either malt or liquor-based alcohols is unsafe, we will abide by any industry-wide, uniform standards that the appropriate governing bodies may develop.

"Our hope is that we can arrive at those standards together through an open dialogue and a discussion about where we have common ground, and we do believe there is a lot of it."

Washington's ban begins November 18; Michigan's begins December 4.  

From the November 15, 2010, Prepared Foods' Daily News
For more of the latest news from the food and beverage industry, visit Prepared Foods' Daily News