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WASHINGTON -- The Food and Drug Administration is telling caffeinated alcoholic drink makers it will pull their products off the shelf if manufacturers do not prove the beverages are safe to drink, according to a report in The Wall Street Journal.
The FDA sent letters to nearly 30 companies and gave them 30 days to prove submit evidence their drinks don't pose health or safety risks. The FDA hasn't approved the use of caffeine in alcoholic beverages, the newspaper noted. The segment includes flavored malt beverages such as United Brands Co.'s Joose and Phusion Projects LLC's Four Loko.
"We are taking a look at the legal basis for the marketing of the products," Joshua Sharfstein, the FDA's principal deputy commissioner, told reporters.
A United Brands spokesman told the newspaper it hadn't received the FDA letter and declined to comment.
The FDA acted after 18 state attorneys general sent a letter of concern to the agency, noting the drinks appeal to young people and can foster drunk driving.
Last year, attorneys general reached settlements with Anheuser-Busch InBev NV and MillerCoors LLC. The companies agreed to remove caffeine, guarana and other stimulants from drinks such as Sparks and Tilt. But smaller companies gained market share, the newspaper reported, and products such as Joose have generated faster sales growth than other alcoholic beverages, especially at convenience stores chains.
R. Scott Winters, CEO Prohibition Beverage Inc., maker of p.i.n.k., a caffeine-infused spirit, told the newspaper he hadn't received the letter, but would comply with the request.
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