Four Loko and other Alcoholic Energy Drinks (Caffeinated Alcoholic Beverages) were linked to dozens of tragedies across the country, particularly on college campuses, including fatal automobile crashes, rapes, and alcohol poisonings. Packaged in 23.9 ounce cans with 12 percent alcohol, the equivalent of 3 cups of coffee worth of caffeine, and loads of sugar, this high powered brew has become popular with young people, with tragic consequences. For articles describing problem incidents involving Four Loko and other AEDs, click here.
The FDA initiated an investigation of AEDs in November 2009. As of November 17, 2010, the FDA, states, local communities and colleges took action to either ban or restrict AEDs. Attached are maps depicting states that banned AEDs, reclassified them, or developed voluntary agreements with distributors to remove them before and after the FDA action. Maps are distinguished between states that reached an agreement with wholesalers to pull AEDs from the state, and states that requested such action (without confirmation that an agreement was reached). The five states identified in this second category are (Pennsylvania, Texas, Vermont, West Virginia, and Kentucky). The maps exclude these five states and only include states that have confirmed removal of AEDs (those listed in FDA action).
Supersized Alcopops - Anheuser Busch announced on May 24, 2011 that it will reduce the alcohol content in the supersized 24-ounce cans of Tilt from 12 to 8 percent. MillerCoors announced that it is capping the alcohol content of Sparks supersized containers at 8 percent. The new products will still have the equivalent of 3.2 drinks in the single serve container. Anheuser-Busch and MillerCoors are claiming that their decision to limit Tilt and Sparks respectively to 8% alcohol in the supersized 24 oz containers shows they are acting responsibly. Although a step in the right direction, the new configuration is still very problematic, as the beer industry tries to establish the 24 oz can with the equivalent of 3.2 drinks as a standard serving size. It remains an invitation to binge drink, ignoring moderate drinking standards.
Some key points:
A-B’s move is clearly a step in the right direction and is an acknowledgement that the “binge-in-a-can” alcopop containers constitutes a highly irresponsible marketing strategy. We are glad that the beer industry is finally acknowledging this fact. The producers of Blast, Joose, Four Loko, Crunk Juce among others should immediately take this initial step.
Despite A-B’s and MillerCoors claims, the new configuration is hardly responsible, since it still invites heavy drinking and ignores moderate drinking guidelines. This effort to standardize supersized alcopops containers demonstrates the companies’ continued targeting of binge drinkers and underage drinkers.
The high alcohol content and large container sizes are particularly objectionable because of the sodapop quality of the product and their attractiveness to underage drinkers.
Serving sizes for alcopops should be no more than the equivalent of one drink because of their appeal to youth and regular beer containers should have no more than two drinks.
Attorneys General Criticize Pabst Brewing Company Over Marketing of COLT 45 BLAST
On 4/21/2011, 16 State Attorneys General, the Attorney General of the Territory of Guam, and the City Attorney of San Francisco announced that they sent a letter to Pabst Brewing Company calling on the company to take immediate steps to significantly reduce the number of servings of alcohol presented to consumers in a single serving container and to take steps to ensure that the marketing of this product does not target an audience that is under the legal drinking age. Characterizing the 23.5 ounce cans of Blast as a “binge in a can," the Attorneys General stated that the product poses a grave public safety threat and characterized Pabst’s marketing of the product as irresponsible.
Attached is a memorandum on the single serve/multiple drink container size issue, summarizing the public health and safety risks and proposing specific limits on the size of alcopop containers, providing a legal foundation for challenging this new marketing trend and a basis for supporting legislative and regulatory reform. See Marin Institute’s model legislation which would enact similar alcopop container size/alcohol content restrictions. The Colt 45 Blast issue has received extensive national coverage even before the Attorneys General letter was released.
As of April 27, the letter from State Attorneys General and the City Attorney of San Francisco to Pabst Brewing Company regarding its supersized alcopop Colt 45 Blast received widespread publicity across the country both in the national media and in local markets. See all related news articles below and at our news updates.
FDA Warning Letters
On November 17th, the FDA sent warning letters to four AED producers informing them that their products are “unsafe food product” and “adulterated” under federal law and therefore illegal.
California Public Health Department Takes Action Following up the FDA order on November 17th, the California Department of Public Health sent a letter to beer distributors alerting them that based on the FDA finding that specific AEDs are adulterated food products, it is illegal to manufacture, distribute or sell AEDs under California law. The letter further states that the Department’s Food and Drug Branch will be initiating investigations to ensure that manufacturers and distributors and that violators are subject to civil and criminal fines, including up to one year in jail and $1,000 fine for each violation.