Approval for alcohol energy drinks has been withdrawn by the Michigan Liquor Control Commission. The Commission has informed that manufacturers have thirty days to remove these products from the State. The Commission added that after reviewing data on several studies, community concerns and liaising with parent and substance abuse prevention groups, as well as a decision by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to investigate energy drinks more thoroughly, the decision was made to ban alcohol energy drinks.

The Michigan Liquor Control Commission (MLCC) states that the products encourage overconsumption, have misleading packaging and are directly attractive to and targeted towards young people.

Chairperson Nida Samona and Commissioner Patrick Gagliardi decided to take action after learning about recent events in Washington State involving minors which resulted in hospitalizations, and comments by emergency room doctors across the nation.

Samona said:

    “The Commission’s concern for the health, safety and welfare of Michigan citizens and the fact that there is not enough research to validate that these products are safe for consumption has made me believe that until further research is done by the FDA, they should no longer be on Michigan shelves. Alcohol has been recognized as the number one drug problem among youth, and the popularity of alcohol energy drinks is increasing at an alarming rate among college students and underage drinkers.”

Alcohol energy drinks usually have a 12% alcohol content, about the same as table wine, compared to beer which ranges from 4% to 5%. Energy drinks, like beer are commonly sold in 12-ounce cans. An individual who has downed three cans of alcohol energy drinks has probably had the alcohol equivalent of 9 cans of beer. A ¾ liter bottle of wine has 25.36 ounces – somebody who drank two 12-ounce cans of 12% alcohol energy drink has nearly consumed the equivalent of a bottle of wine.

Commissioner Patrick Gagliardi said:

    “One can, one serving, is enough to get you intoxicated. Alcohol energy drinks cost on average $2 – $5 per can making these products easily accessible and affordable.”

Executive Director of Michigan Alcohol Policy, Mike Tobias, said:

    “Michigan Alcohol Policy commends Chairwoman Samona and Commissioner Gagliardi on the attention and leadership they have given to this issue. Stimulants combined with alcohol is a dangerous combination and today is a victory for all the citizens of Michigan.”

Energy drinks are commonly used as mixers with alcoholic cocktails. Alcohol versions are sold in a wide variety of formulations, such as Four Loko and Joose, which combine stimulants with alcohol. Because of their sweet taste and type of packaging, alcohol energy drinks are extremely popular with young people. Energy drinks are stimulants while alcohol is a depressant. Consumers of alcohol energy drinks may experience fewer of the symptoms related to alcohol intoxication, such as headache or dizziness. Energy drinks can mask the influence of alcohol – the consumer may miscalculate his/her level of drunkenness. This can lead to higher alcohol consumption and the risks that come with it, including injury, driving under the influence, or assault.

The FDA wrote that:

    Under the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act (the 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, is Generally Recognized As Safe (GRAS), or is subject to a prior sanction. A food that contains an unapproved food additive is deemed adulterated under Section 402 of the Act; adulterated foods are subject to agency enforcement actions, including seizure.

Sources: Michigan Liquor Control Commission

Written by Christian Nordqvist