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April 7, 2003

AUSTRALIA: “Spiked” drinks spark protests

Alcohol pressure groups have voiced concern over "spiked" pre-mixed drinks being launched by brewers. The drinks, which are effectively beers fortified with spirits, such as Cold Shot, a beer and vodka mix marketed by Carlton & United Breweries (CUB), are being targeted at the same young adult segment which has taken to ready-to-drink (RTD) pre-mixed spirits.

Alcohol pressure groups have voiced concern over “spiked” pre-mixed drinks being launched by brewers. The drinks, which are effectively beers fortified with spirits, such as Cold Shot, a beer and vodka mix marketed by Carlton & United Breweries (CUB), are being targeted at the same young adult segment which has taken to ready-to-drink (RTD) pre-mixed spirits.

Several of the products, which have an alcohol level of aroun 6% abv, are now being marketed, drawing considerable criticism. The Alcohol and Drug Foundation has accused brewers of putting young people’s health in jeopardy in the search for profit.

“Again we are seeing greater alcohol content being pushed onto young people, particularly young males in this case,” said Carol Bennett, spokesperson for the Foundation, adding that brewers were desperate trying to woo back drinkers who had moved to ready-to-drink spirits cocktails (RTDs). “Brewing companies have lost quite a lot of money in recent times as young people have switched from beer towards spirits. It also makes it difficult to determine what a standard drink is when you mix higher alcohol content drinks with beer.”

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