Caffeinated Alcohol and Underage Drinking
On November 17, 2010, the Food and Drug Administration issued a warning to producers of caffeinated alcoholic beverages demanding that the products be safer if they are to remain on the market. Due to the high alcohol content, kid-oriented packaging and dangerous mixture of alcohol and caffeine the FDA deemed the drinks a “public health concern.”
Joose is a caffeinated, alcoholic beverage made by United Brands. United Brands CEO Michael Michail recently announced his company “would like to comply” with the FDA. “As a responsible marketer… we have to be very careful and obey the law of the land,” Michail said.
According to the Center for Disease Control, underage drinking that occurs between ages 12 and 20 accounts for 11 percent of all alcohol consumed in the U.S. Young people choose to drink for varying reasons. Alcohol can be a way to fit in socially or they could be copying behavior learned from their environment. When young people drink, especially binge drink, they are a serious risk to themselves and others.
The risk increases when caffeine is added to alcohol, which can prolong intoxication. The false energy produced by caffeine masks the fatigue and lethargy caused by alcohol that warns us to slow down our drinking. Caffeinated drinks often have high alcohol levels. Drinks like Four Loko and Joose have twice the amount of alcohol as one beer.
In July 2010 U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer wrote to the FDA calling for an investigation into caffeinated alcohol drinks, which tend to be marketed with flashy, colorful packaging. The caffeine kick appeals to students wanting to stay up to study. The alcoholic drinks are almost identical to non-alcoholic energy drinks and are often displayed right next to each other in stores.
Though caffeinated alcoholic beverages are dangerous, underage drinking of any kind has been a nationwide problem for decades. Research shows that 5,000 young people die each year as a result of underage drinking, primarily due to auto accidents.
Alcohol abuse and binge drinking are beginning at a younger age in the U.S. In 2003, the average age a person had their first drink was 14, compared to over age 17 in 1965. Alcohol abuse can cause social, physical and emotional problems for young people. Studies have shown that alcohol abuse also increases the chances that a teen will be involved in criminal activity.