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FDA to examine safety of caffeinated alcoholic beverages

Prior to a review, the agency is asking nearly 30 manufacturers to provide evidence that their drinks are safe. Officials from 18 states, including California, have raised concerns about the blend.

November 13, 2009|By Andrew Zajac

Reporting from Washington — Prodded by the attorneys general of California and 17 other states, the Food and Drug Administration is asking the makers of caffeinated alcoholic beverages to provide evidence that their drinks are safe.

The FDA this morning said it has contacted nearly 30 drink manufacturers seeking safety information on the drinks.

Under federal law, an ingredient can't be added to a food or beverage unless it's been approved by the FDA or is generally recognized as safe. The FDA has never approved caffeine as an additive to alcoholic beverages.

FDA Principal Deputy Commissioner Joshua Sharfstein said the agency hasn't reached a conclusion about the safety of the caffeine-alcohol mix but is reacting to claims from state attorneys general that consumers of the blend show a greater propensity to drunk driving and other dangerous behavior.

The drink makers have 30 days to produce safety information, after which the FDA will begin a review.

If the agency concludes that the evidence doesn't support a claim of safety, the products could be pulled from the market, Sharfstein said. He did not give a timetable for a decision.

azajac@latimes.com

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