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Seven Popular Alcoholic Energy Drinks Pulled, Others Remain

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In the wake of a warning letter from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), seven alcoholic energy drinks made by four companies will no longer be shipped or manufactured, CNN reported Nov. 24.

The drinks, which combine caffeine with alcohol, have been under review by the FDA since November 2009 because of concerns that the caffeine misleads drinkers into thinking they are less drunk than they really are.

The drinks became the focus of intense media scrutiny after an October 2010 incident at Central Washington University, when nine underage students were hospitalized after consuming Four Loko, made by Phusion Projects.

At the end of its review, the FDA concluded that caffeine was an “unsafe food additive” when mixed with alcohol, and sent warning letters to the makers of seven alcoholic energy drinks.

“FDA does not find support for the claim that the addition of caffeine to these alcoholic beverages is ’generally recognized as safe,’ which is the legal standard,” said the FDA’s principal deputy commissioner, Dr. Joshua Sharfstein. “To the contrary, there is evidence that the combinations of caffeine and alcohol in these products pose a public health concern.”

According to Sharfstein, the four manufacturers have complied with the FDA’s warning.

Phusion Projects, which makes Four Loko, said it would have the caffeinated version of its drink out of stores by Dec. 13. Going forward, it will remove caffeine from Four Loko’s ingredients, along with two other additives, taurine and guarana.

United Brands, manufacturer of Max and Joose, said it had already stopped marketing Max, and that Joose would be removed from stores by Dec. 13. Charge Beverages Corp. stopped making Core High Gravity HG, Core High Gravity HG Orange, and Lemon Lime Core Spiked in September, and it stopped shipping the drinks at the beginning of November.

New Century Brewing has ceased making Moonshot (for now). Rhonda Kallman, company owner, said that Moonshot, a caffeinated beer with about 4 percent alcohol per volume, should not have been lumped with products such as Joose and Four Loko.

While these four manufacturers received and complied with the FDA’s Nov. 17, 2010, warning letter, 26 other companies – who received a warning from the FDA in 2009 – did not receive a formal notification this year.

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