Senator Chuck Schumer Calls for FTC Investigation into the Marketing of Alcoholic Energy Drinks
New York Senator Chuck Schumer is calling for the FTC to investigate marketing practices that he says are being used to push energy drink style alcoholic beverages on an underage market.
Drinks that contain alcohol and caffeine together are frequently packaged in cans that closely mimic the look of non-alcoholic energy drinks. Although major breweries like Anheuser-Busch InBev NV and MillerCoors LLC stopped selling alcohol and caffeine beverages in 2008 in response to pressure from several states and allegations of marketing practices that targeted youth, a number of smaller manufacturers have stepped in and seen their sales increase in the void left after the big players left the market. Schumer says that some of these drinks, like “Joose” and Four Loko” have alcohol contents as high as 12% by volume, but that the labeling of this alcohol content is done in very small print on the packaging.
In a letter to the FTC, Schumer wrote, “Our parents and law enforcement are doing everything they can to keep alcohol out of the hands of teens, but it becomes a difficult task when beverage makers create and market a product that seems like an everyday energy drink. The marketing of drinks Four Loko, Joose, and others like them lead one to believe that manufacturers are trying to mislead legal-age adults while actively courting underage drinkers. This is dishonest, irresponsible, and wrong. It's time for the FTC to immediately turn their attention to these products and address this problem once and for all."
In November of 2009, the FDA began investigations into the practice of adding caffeine to alcohol, a practice it says that has never been explicitly condoned and that may be unsafe.
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