The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued warning letters to four manufacturers of caffeinated alcoholic drinks, directing them to stop adding caffeine to the popular drinks within 15 days or face stop selling them altogether.
FDA warned four companies that the caffeine added to their alcoholic malt beverages is an "unsafe food additive" and said that further action, including seizure of their products, is possible under federal law. Warning letters were issued to the following companies:
Charge Beverages Corp.: Core High Gravity HG Green, Core High Gravity HG Orange, and Lemon Lime Core Spiked
New Century Brewing Co., LLC: Moonshot
Phusion Projects, LLC (doing business as Drink Four Brewing Co.): Four Loko
United Brands Company Inc.: Joose and Max
The FDA Commissioner, Dr. Margaret Hamburg, asserted that the drinks appeared to pose a serious public health threat because the caffeine masked the effects of the alcohol, leading to "a state of wide-awake drunk." The drinks at issue are carbonated malt beverages with fruit flavors and very high levels of alcohol; Four Loko is 12 percent alcohol by volume and has up to 156 milligrams of caffeine per can. The effect of consuming alcohol and caffeine is that people get more intoxicated and engage in more dangerous behavior when they drink the combination beverages than when they drink alcohol alone.