Caffeinated Alcoholic Beverages Questioned by FDA
“Under the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act, a substance added intentionally to food (such as caffeine in alcoholic beverages) is deemed “unsafe” and is unlawful unless its particular use has been approved by FDA regulation, the substance is subject to a prior sanction, or the substance is Generally Recognized As Safe (GRAS).”
I attempted to find the caffeine content of Sparks and another alcoholic energy drink called Joose (Hint: if you don’t want the FDA to target your company, maybe don’t call your product Joose) out of curiosity. My attempt was unsuccessful as that information isn’t listed on the company’s website. I imagine the caffeine content is similar to that of a cup of coffee, but as the information was unavailable it could feasibly be much higher.
In a brief, informal poll involving friends of mine, I asked them the following question: “Do you think it is safe to combine alcohol with caffeine?” The response was a resounding “no.” If you have any background in physiology, without having to do any double blind placebo-controlled studies, you know intuitively that combining a depressant with a stimulant simultaneously probably doesn’t do pretty things to your insides.
In fact, there is science to back this up, though the studies are primarily behavioral rather than physiological. (There might be a slight ethical quandary with a study involving intentional intoxication to study physiological outcomes.) Not surprisingly, people found that although intoxicated, they had more energy and were more likely to stay out partying later and to engage in risky health behaviors. The following is an excerpt from Drug and Alcohol Dependence:
“The combined use of caffeine and alcohol is increasing sharply, and studies suggest that such combined use may increase the rate of alcohol-related injury. Several studies suggest that energy drinks may serve as a gateway to other forms of drug dependence.”
On another anecdotal note, in college I lived next door to two women who consistently consumed the alcoholic energy drink, Sparks. They had concocted a drink by the name of “ghetto predator” which consisted of half Sparks and half Miller High Life. With regularity, they would return home in a whirlwind of jackassery. At times, there were injuries and poor decisions, which I would catch gossip of at some later date.
So, for the next 30 days, and thereafter if these things aren’t pulled off the market, you should probably avoid them for a number of reasons. (1) We don’t know the physiological effects; (2) Avoid the empty calories; (3) Don’t be a part of the jackassery whirlwind; and (4) You could get hurt or make an incredibly poor decision (according to science and both of our mothers). If you do drink caffeinated alcoholic beverages, you should definitely do so in moderation and with a buddy you trust.
Photo by thefuturistics
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