Caffeinated Beer Ban — A Solution in Search of a Problem

Legislation to ban the importation, production, manufacture, distribution or sale of beer to which caffeine is added, awaits action by Gov. Jerry Brown.

It is a solution in search of a problem.

Much media attention has been focused on California’s move to ban these allegedly dangerous drinks whose labels and advertising campaigns are aimed at a youthful audience.

Except it appears there’s nothing to ban. And there hasn’t been for more than six months.

In a July 11 Associated Press story about the Assembly passing the proposed ban — SB 39 by Sen. Alex Padilla, a Los Angeles Democrat — 11 paragraphs discuss the measure and the Assembly floor debate.

The final paragraph says this:

“Some major brewery companies dropped the caffeinated brews in 2008 after regulatory pressure but smaller companies stepped into the market void. Some of the current manufacturers have changed their drink formulas since they have become targets for scrutiny while others have halted production.”

So why is Padilla’s bill necessary?

The analysis of Padilla’s bill notes that in November 2010, the federal Food and Drug Administration sent a warning letter to four companies who marketed beer with caffeine added directly to it. The letter said that doing so made their products “adulterated, unsafe and illegal” under the federal Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act.

A day prior to this warning letter, Phusion Projects, the maker of “Four Loko,” said it would reformulate its products to remove caffeine nationwide (Emphasis added). The company pledged caffeine-laced “Four Loko” would be gone from shelves by December 13.

The FDA noted that after sending its letter all four of the companies pledged to stop shipping.

After halting the brewing of  “Moonshot ‘69” last November, warning letter recipient New Century Brewing closed its doors June 29.

“Joose,” which has multiple fruity flavors, is manufactured by San Diego’s United Brands. It received the FDA warning letter in November. Caffeinated “Joose” was off the shelves by December 13. The company says its products no longer contain caffeine.

Sparks, introduced in 2002, was one of the original beers containing caffeine.  Its manufacturer, Miller Brewing Company removed the caffeine in 2008. Tilt, initially introduced as an “energy beer,” also removed its caffeine in 2008.

A January 11 report posted at  Earth911.com says three ethanol recycling facilities in the US are turning the alcohol contained in the banned drinks into ethanol.




No Comments »

No comments yet.

RSS feed for comments on this post.

Leave a comment