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Don't add buzz to the booze, says FDA

It's not OK to use caffeine as an additive in alcoholic drinks, the FDA told 30 beverage manufacturers last week.

About time. During the five-year span that I taught undergraduate nutrition at the University of California-Davis, I grew increasingly worried by questions from students about caffeine/alcohol combinations. At first, they asked about Red Bull-plus-vodka mixed drinks; later, they had questions about new "party" drinks that combined alcohol and hefty doses of caffeine in a single beverage. The drinks made them feel more alert than plain old booze, students said.

Not good, I always replied. Caffeine plus alcohol produces a special variety of inebriate: the wide-awake drunk who sees no problem with getting behind the wheel or otherwise relying on cognitive functions that booze has temporarily sent packing.

That's why I was glad to hear that, on Nov. 13, the FDA put alcoholic beverage makers on notice. The manufacturers have 30 days to provide the FDA with evidence that adding caffeine to alcoholic beverages is "generally recognized as safe" or has been previously approved. If they can't respond, alcoholic beverages with added caffeine will be pulled from the market.

Read more at Food Politics, the blog of NYU nutrition scientist Marion Nestle. And check out this study on alcohol-energy drink mixtures from Wake Forest University, posted for reference by the Center for Science in the Public Interest.

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