We have all heard the sayings about popular “alcopops.” They are like a binge in a can, are marketed to teens, and worse. In fact, the Food and Drug Administration declared alcoholic energy drinks to be a public health concern and concluded that caffeine added to malt alcoholic beverages was an unsafe food additive (U.S. Food and Drug Administration). However, that doesn’t stop bartenders and consumers alike from mixing up their own alcohol and energy drink cocktails for a quick pick-me-up. Unfortunately, research has found that users who mix alcohol and energy drinks are three times more likely to binge drink than users who do not mix alcohol and energy drinks (CDC). For even more information on the dangers of mixing alcohol and energy drinks, check out the following video from Discovery News.
This should serve as a reminder for all hospitality professionals to serve responsibly, monitor your patrons carefully, and be extra vigilant if you are serving beverages mixed with energy drinks or highly caffeinated beverages (ex. Vodka and Red Bull).
The ban on caffeinated alcoholic beverages, also called alcopop, was one of the biggest stories in the beverage service and sales industry in 2010. Popular beverages such as Four Loko were called dangerous, a binge in a can, and worse. The Food and Drug Administration declared alcoholic energy drinks to be a public health concern and concluded that caffeine added to malt alcoholic beverages was an unsafe food additive (U.S. Food and Drug Administration). Four Loko removed the caffeine from their beverages to comply with new regulations. Now, the FTC has reached a settlement with Phusion Products, the makers of Four Loko, to take it a step further.
In an effort keep drinkers safe and well informed about how much alcohol they are consuming, cans of Four Loko will now display an “Alcohol Facts” label, similar to a nutritional label, to make it clear they pack a potent punch.
These facts will include the container size, percentage alcohol by volume, number of servings in the container and serving size in fluid ounces (NPR). Additionally, all cans of Four Loko containing more than two-and-a-half servings will also have to be re-sealable. The intent is to help consumers realize that they should not consume the entire can in one sitting. A can of Four Loko contains up to 12% alcohol, and a 23.5 ounce can is equivalent to about four or five standard beers (San Francisco Chronicle). Binge drinking means drinking so much within about 2 hours that blood alcohol concentration (BAC) levels reach 0.08g/dL. For women, this usually occurs after about 4 drinks, and for men, after about 5. (National Institute of Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism).
This should serve as a reminder to all beverage service professionals to always serve responsibly. Alcopops with colorful packaging and fruity flavors are especially popular with teen drinkers, so servers and sellers should be extra vigilant in checking identification and observing guests.
© 2013 National Hospitality Institute®, TAM® of Nevada
In recent years energy drinks, or flavored beverages which contain stimulants such as caffeine, have become increasingly popular among consumers. In fact, energy drinks such as Red Bull® and Monster® are very popular among teens and young adults in particular. In moderation such beverages may not be unsafe, but overconsumption or mixing energy drinks with alcohol can be very dangerous.
From 2005 to 2009 (the latest year for which figures are available), there was a sharp increase in the number of emergency departments visits associated with the use of non-alcoholic energy drinks – from 1,128 visits in 2005 to 13,114 visits in 2009. Additionally, about 44% of these ER visits involved energy drink consumption combined with the use of other substances such as alcohol, pharmaceuticals or illicit drugs (SAMHSA). More recently stories have surfaced regarding 5 deaths, including that of a 14 year-old California teen, which may be tied to consumption of Monster Energy Drinks, and the FDA is investigating (USA Today).
This news should serve as a reminder to service professionals and consumers alike that it can be a risky behavior to mix caffeinated energy drinks with alcohol. In fact, the FDA has raised concerns that caffeine additives may mask some of the effects consumers typically rely on to determine their level of intoxication. Drinkers who consume alcohol mixed with energy drinks are 3 times more likely to binge drink than drinkers who do not report mixing alcohol with energy drinks (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention).
Servers and sellers of alcohol beverages are taking note. If your establishment currently serves energy drinks mixed with alcohol, you may want to consider removing these items from your menu. Additionally, as always guests should be monitored closely for responsible consumption. No one should be over served. Complete your alcohol awareness course with TAM® of Nevada in order to learn more about responsible beverage service and the effects of alcohol on the body.
© 2012 National Hospitality Institute®, TAM® of Nevada