The Federal Trade Commission today sent warning letters to four marketers of caffeinated alcohol drinks. Citing incidents “suggesting that alcohol containing added caffeine presents unusual risks to health and safety,” the FTC letters warned that marketing of such beverages may constitute an unfair or deceptive practice that violates the FTC Act. Companies receiving letters include:
The Food and Drug Administration has simultaneously announced that it is sending letters to the same four companies, warning that, as used in their products, caffeine is an “unsafe food additive” under the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act.
“Consumers might mistakenly assume that these beverages are safe because they are widely sold,” said David Vladeck, Director of the FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection. “In fact, there is good reason to believe that these caffeinated alcohol drinks pose significant risks to consumer health and safety. Consumers – particularly young, inexperienced drinkers – may not realize how much alcohol they have consumed because caffeine can mask the sense of intoxication.”
The FTC letters strongly urge the companies to review the way they are marketing their caffeinated alcohol drinks and to “take swift and appropriate steps to protect consumers.” The FTC has instructed the companies to notify the agency within 15 days of the actions they have taken.
The Commission vote approving the warning letters was 5-0.
The Federal Trade Commission works for consumers to prevent fraudulent, deceptive, and unfair business practices and to provide information to help spot, stop, and avoid them. To file a complaint in English or Spanish, visit the FTC’s online Complaint Assistant or call 1-877-FTC-HELP (1-877-382-4357). The FTC enters complaints into Consumer Sentinel, a secure, online database available to more than 1,800 civil and criminal law enforcement agencies in the U.S. and abroad. The FTC’s website provides free information on a variety of consumer topics.
(FTC File No. P104519)
(alcohol caffeine warning letters)