you are here: home > inthenews > fda warning about caffeine-alcohol drinks

Neuroscience For Kids

FDA Warning About Caffeine-Alcohol Drinks
November 19, 2010

Combine a central nervous system stimulant (caffeine) with a central nervous system depressant (alcohol) and what do you get? Beverages marketed as energy drinks. Now, because of possible health safety issues, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) wants to ban them. In fact, on November 17, 2010, the FDA sent warning letters to four companies that manufacture these drinks.

The FDA is concerned that caffeine may reverse some of the effects of alcohol. One product (Four Loko, 23.5 oz, 12% alcohol by volume) contains as much alcohol as four beers and about the same amount of caffeine as a cup of coffee. The alcohol may impair a person's judgment and reaction time, but the caffeine may hide such problems. In other words, caffeine may create a wide-awake drunk: a person who is intoxicated but doesn't know it.

At least one company, (Phusion Projects), has decided to remove caffeine from its products although they claim their drinks are safe. Many of these drinks are already banned in New York, Washington, Utah, Michigan and Oklahoma.

References and more information:

Copyright © 1996-2013, Eric H. Chudler, University of Washington