Trouble Brewing in Four Loko?

November 18, 2010

FDA hands warning letters to four manufacturers of alcoholic energy drinks.

Manufacturers of alcoholic energy drinks are being told to cut the caffeine from their formulations because no current food additive regulation permits its use in alcohol.

FDA today mailed warning letters to the following four manufacturers of alcoholic energy drinks, indicating that these companies are in violation of the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act:

-Phusion Projects LLC (Chicago), maker of Four Loko

-United Brands Company (San Diego), maker of Joose and Max

-New Century Brewing Company LLC (Boston), maker of Moonshot ‘69

-Charge Beverages Corp. (Portland, OR), maker of Core High Gravity HG and Lemon Lime Core Spiked.

FDA states that its decision came only after a full scientific review was conducted. The review cites published studies which found increased likelihood of “alcohol-related consequences” and reduced perception of intoxication from consumption of alcohol and caffeine compared to alcohol alone.

 “FDA does not find support for the claim that the addition of caffeine to these alcoholic beverages is ‘generally recognized as safe,’ which is the legal standard,” said Joshua Sharfstein, FDA principal deputy commissioner.  “To the contrary, there is evidence that the combinations of caffeine and alcohol in these products pose a public health concern.”

The manufacturers have 15 days to contact FDA in writing with details of how they will clear their violations. Phusion Projects LLC stated on November 16 that it plans to eliminate caffeine from its Four Loko malt liquor beverages, but no indication has been made as to when this will happen.