The Food and Drug Administration is challenging makers of alcohol-infused energy drinks to prove their beverages are safe, citing complaints that the products can cause risky behavior and injury.
The FDA issued a letter Friday to 30 beverage manufacturers, giving them 30 days to provide evidence that the combination of caffeine and alcohol is safe.
"Today the FDA has listed caffeine only as an ingredient for use in soft drinks," said Deputy Commissioner Dr. Joshua Sharfstein. "The agency has not approved caffeine for use in alcoholic beverages."
FDA officials stressed they have not reached a conclusion about the safety of beverages like Joose and Charge. Instead they are trying to understand the companies' legal rationale for marketing the products.
"There are some unusual safety questions raised by the addition of caffeine to these alcoholic beverages," said FDA special adviser Mike Taylor. "So the burden is on the companies to provide evidence that supports the conclusion this use is safe."
The FDA decided to take action at the urging of state attorneys general from New York, California, Maryland and 16 other states, who contend the drinks appeal to underage drinkers and encourage reckless behavior. Young adults already are the primary demographic for highly caffeinated drinks like Red Bull.