Caffeine-laced alcoholic drink marketers warned

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Four marketers of popular caffeinated, high-alcohol drinks have been sent warning letters that these products are not safe and cannot be portrayed as safe, federal officials said Wednesday.

Caffeine is an “unsafe food additive” in a malt alcoholic beverage, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) said, citing studies that associate such beverages with risk-taking behaviors in drinkers, who purchase and consume it in a manner similar to beer.

The alcohol content in a single can is exceptionally high — up to 12 percent, three times as strong as a typical beer — while the caffeine serves to mask the drinker’s awareness of how drunk he is.

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) sent letters to the four companies advising them that the marketing of such drinks may constitute unfair or deceptive practices.

The four companies are United Brands Co., which sells Joose and Max; Phusion Products LLC, which sells Four Loko and Four Maxed; Charge Beverages Corp., which sells Core High Gravity, Core Spiked and El Jefe; and New Century Brewing Co., which sells Moonshot.

The four companies were asked to respond in 15 days to the FDA and FTC letters.

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About the Author
Cheryl Wetzstein

Cheryl Wetzstein

Cheryl Wetzstein covers family and social issues as a national reporter for The Washington Times. She has been a reporter for three decades, working in New York City and Washington, D.C. Since joining The Washington Times in 1985, she has been a features writer, environmental and consumer affairs reporter, and assistant business editor.

Beginning in 1994, Mrs. Wetzstein worked exclusively ...

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