Some proponents of regulating these beverages call for an all-out ban. Others advocate for warning labels advertising the potential health and safety risks of mixing caffeine and alcohol . I certainly didn’t think much of my Sugar-Free Sparks back in college! MillerCoors LLC has agreed to remove caffeine, guarana, and other stimulants from their products (i.e. Sparks) as of last year. Anheuser-Busch has done the same. Other companies, however, are seizing such markets with their similar products.These companies include Four Loko and Joose, and are currently under investigation by several attorneys general, The Wall Street Journal reported in July 2009 .
Why such the fuss? Most importantly, the mixture of caffeine and other stimulants may mask the feeling of drunkenness which can lead to reckless behaviors. Is this really a public concern? Probably ought to be. Sales of one brand of caffeine-containing alcohol, Four Loko and sister brand Four Maxed rose in sales by 2,680% over the past year .
A Wake Forest University study published in 2008 found that 24% of college students consuming alcohol in a given month were doing so by mixing with caffeinated beverages. Those that did mix alcohol with caffeinated beverages were more likely than those who did not drink alcohol mixed with caffeine to experience negative consequences, such as alcohol-related injury, getting into a car with a drunk driver, or being taking advantage of sexually .
But how MUCH caffeine are in these products? Because the companies are not required to list the amount of caffeine in the products, most of them to not list the content. Rich Brest, a 36-year-old JETT drinker, says that putting the amount of caffeine on the label is a “no brainer.” However, he explains that putting a warning label pointing to product risks seems no more feasible than including a label on all alcohol explaining, “the only thing that can sober you up is time, not caffeine, not a shower. ”
What does the FDA say? According to their website, the FDA permits 200 parts per million of caffeine in alcoholic drinks — the same amount permitted in soft drinks. The FDA is currently performing further research on caffeine and alcohol, says Mitchell Cheeseman, deputy director of the FDA’s office of food-additive safety .
Stock up on Sparks, just in case, my dear northwestern boo bear!
. Kesmodel, David.
Buzz Kill? Critics Target Alcohol-Caffeine Drinks. The Wall Street Journal. August 3, 2009.