TALLAHASSEE, FL – Following a collective initiative launched earlier this week to target underage drinking, Attorney General Bill McCollum today expressed his concern to Anheuser-Busch Companies, Inc. about its production and promotion of alcohol energy drinks containing caffeine and other stimulants. Citing serious health concerns, Attorney General McCollum called on the company to provide readable warning labels that alert consumers about the health risks posed by these products.
“These alcoholic energy drinks are promoted and packaged in a way that is highly attractive in both taste and appearance to underage youth,”
Attorney General McCollum said. “If Anheuser-Busch is going to hold itself out as a partner in the fight against underage drinking, the company must stop marketing the youthful appeal of these drinks.”
In a letter to Anheuser-Busch, Attorney General McCollum joined 27 other state Attorneys General in noting that doctors and public health professionals have warned that combining caffeinated energy drinks with alcohol – a practice popular among young people – poses significant health and safety risks. The stimulant in the energy drink may skew a person’s sense of alertness without reducing the adverse effect of the alcohol on that person’s motor skills or ability to react quickly.
Anheuser-Busch’s caffeinated alcoholic beverages include Spykes, TILT and Bud Extra. These drinks with a caffeine kick are similar to non-alcoholic energy drinks currently popular with youth under 21. They are primarily marketed on websites particularly targeting a younger audience.
Spykes is available only in fruit and chocolate flavors and comes in smaller plastic containers that are attractive and brightly colored and could be easily concealed in a pocket or purse. Advertisements for Spykes, TILT and Bud Extra also tout the products’ caffeine content and other additives that youth are likely to associate with popular non-alcoholic energy drinks. Spykes contains 12 percent alcohol by volume – more than twice that of most flavored malt beverages and beers.
Because they are designated as flavored malt beverages, Spykes and similar drinks can be sold inexpensively and – in many states – distributed to grocery stores and convenience stores where they may be more readily seen and purchased by underage drinkers than if they were sold only in liquor stores.
Recently, the U.S. Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau made clear that it agreed with these concerns, finding that several Spykes labels violate federal law. Anheuser-Busch has agreed to stop production and to replace the product labels. The Attorneys General’s letter to Anheuser-Busch raised specific concerns about the illegible health warnings on the Spykes product and called upon the company to act promptly to address their remaining concerns about the production and marketing of these products.
A copy of the letter to Anheuser-Busch is available online at: