>NC ABC Commission Takes Action to Speed Removal of Alcohol Energy Drinks from Stores

>On November 18, NC Alcoholic Beverage Control Commission took action to speed removal of alcohol energy drinks from North Carolina stores in the wake of the ruling made the previous day by federal authorities that the combination of caffeine and malt alcohol is unsafe. The Federal Trade Commission sent warning letters to four marketers of caffeinated alcohol drinks citing incidents “suggesting that alcohol containing added caffeine presents unusual risks to health and safety.” The FTC letters warned that marketing of such beverages may constitute an unfair or deceptive practice that violates the FTC Act. Companies receiving letters include: United Brands Co., (Joose and Max); Phusion Products LLC, (Four Loko and Four Maxed); Charge Beverages Corporation, (Core High Gravity, Core Spiked, and El Jefe): and New Century Brewing Company, (Moonshot).

The NC ABC Commission’s action supports warnings issued the previous day by the Food and Drug Administration, the Federal Trade Commission and the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau that caffeine is not regarded as safe in carbonated malt beverages.

“Consumers might mistakenly assume that these beverages are safe because they are widely sold,” said David Vladeck, Director of the FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection. “In fact, there is good reason to believe that these caffeinated alcohol drinks pose significant risks to consumer health and safety. Consumers – particularly young, inexperienced drinkers – may not realize how much alcohol they have consumed because caffeine can mask the sense of intoxication.”
The FTC letters strongly urged the companies to review the way they are marketing their caffeinated alcohol drinks and to “take swift and appropriate steps to protect consumers.” The FTC has instructed the companies to notify the agency within 15 days of the actions they have taken.

CCSAP (Coastal Coalition for Substance Abuse Prevention) is a five county coalition covering Carteret, Craven, Jones, Onslow and Pamlico counties. We are working to reduce underage drinking, reduce alcohol related traffic crashes and reduce the abuse of prescription medications. As part of CCSAP, we have a youth group called SAPHE (Substance Abuse Prevention Helps Everyone) and they have been working with the NC General Assembly regarding the issues of privatization and the beer excise tax. Continue to be watching and listening for their efforts as the new legislature takes office in January 2011.

Also, as part of our work, CCSAP is in collaboration with the Marine Corps installations in our counties to share The Domino Strategy™ for Responsible Alcohol Use through United for Health. The first phase of this effort, “Do You Count?”, began in September with a press conference in Jacksonville and the second phase, “Size Matters”, just started last week during the Marine Corps Operational Pause. The third phase, “Know What’s Inside” will begin in February with a press conference aboard MCAS Cherry Point.

If you would like any more information please contact the CCSAP Media Coordinator, Tanya Roberts at tanya@ccsap.org or 252-665-3424.

Submitted by: Tanya Roberts, CCSAP Media Coordinator