Caffeinated alcoholic beverages

Last month, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) notified nearly 30 manufacturers of caffeinated alcoholic beverages that it intends to look into the safety and legality of their products. According to an FDA official, "The increasing popularity of consumption of caffeinated alcoholic beverages by college students and reports of potential health and safety issues necessitates that we look seriously at the scientific evidence as soon as possible."

Here in Washington, Attorney General Rob McKenna applauded the FDA's action. "Alcohol plus caffeine equals a serious health threat, especially for young people," he said. "The jolt of caffeine or other stimulants mask the feeling of intoxication. Health professionals say that leads to more risk-taking behavior, traffic accidents, violence, sexual assault, and suicide."

Concerned about the combination of energy drinks and alcohol, the Washington State Liquor Control Board has approved a policy which prohibits any references to combining energy drinks with alcohol on point-of-sale materials in their state stores. In their letter to suppliers they state, " . . . there are an increasing number of scientific studies that have shown the dangerous effects of mixing alcohol with energy drinks. While alcohol is a depressant, energy drinks are stimulants. The net effect is that the consumer doesn't feel the effects of the alcohol, yet is just as impaired as they would be had they just consumed alcohol without the energy drink."