Blog: Chris MercerFDA probe on caffeine and alcohol

Chris Mercer | 16 November 2009

The Food and Drug Administration's probe on caffeinated alcoholic beverages raises several important questions.

While the FDA is adamant that it has yet to make up its mind on the drinks, it left Friday's conference call listeners in no doubt that it sees no reason why caffeinated alcoholic beverages should be considered legal - without fresh regulation.

However, there are several difficult issues with this investigation.

The first is that one must question why the FDA has not looked at this before, given that caffeinated alcoholic drinks have been on the market for more than two years.

On the industry side, one must ask why, according to the FDA, nobody has sought clearance for these drinks?

The problem the agency and industry face is that there appears to be a lack of clinical scientific evidence on the effects of adding caffeine to alcohol. How do you nail down added caffeine as a culprit? 

Assuming a ban is introduced, where does this end? The concept of ready-to-drink alcoholic beverages containing caffeine is merely an extension of the consumer trend for mixing spirits with caffeinated energy drinks.

Is the FDA also going to ban bars from selling vodka and Red Bull combinations? Incidentally, it is believed in the industry that the 'vodka Red Bull' phenomenon accounts for a significant proportion of the energy drink maker's sales.  

This issue has quite a few miles left to run, in our opinion.

Chris Mercer, deputy editor. 



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