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States ask MillerCoors to pull alcoholic energy drink

September 18, 2008|From the Associated Press

MILWAUKEE — Twenty-five states asked beverage maker MillerCoors on Wednesday to abandon plans for a new caffeine-infused alcoholic energy drink.

Connecticut Atty. Gen. Richard Blumenthal said in a statement that the Sparks Red drink was a "recipe for disaster" because adding caffeine to alcoholic beverages reduces drinkers' sense of intoxication.

Blumenthal, California Atty. Gen. Jerry Brown and the other attorneys general say young drinkers are especially vulnerable because of their limited judgment and risky behaviors in driving and other activities.

They urged MillerCoors to abandon plans for the product and said they would consider other steps -- hinting at a potential lawsuit -- if necessary.

MillerCoors spokesman Julian Green said the company still planned to release the drink Oct. 1.

He said the federal Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau, or TTB, had approved all formulas and labeling for Sparks.

"We will continue to work with the TTB to ensure that marketing, labeling and formulation continues to meet all guidelines," he said.

Attorneys general and advocacy groups have long been targeting MillerCoors, a joint venture between SABMiller's U.S. unit and Molson Coors Brewing Co., and the nation's largest brewer, Anheuser-Busch Cos., in connection with the making and marketing of such drinks.

They say these drinks are targeting teenagers and young drinkers who are already drawn to highly caffeinated drinks such as Red Bull.

Last week the Center for Science in the Public Interest said it sued MillerCoors to stop the brewer from selling Sparks, saying it was going after teenagers with the drink.

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