A major beer company has agreed to stop making alcoholic energy drinks marketed with the name "Sparks" on the label. Iowa’s attorney general joined with the top lawyers from 12 other states and the City of San Francisco, charging that the MillerCoors company was misleading consumers with the product.
"The advertising gave the false impression that you could continue to drink this product and not really feel the effects of the alcohol because of the caffeine in it, " says Bill Brauch, director of the Iowa Attorney General’s consumer protection division, "and that’s just not true."
Last June Anheuser-Busch agreed to stop making "Tilt" and "Bud Extra" which were the St. Louis company’s alcoholic energy drinks. "These products are going to have the same impact as any other alcohol product. They’re dangerous because of the false impression," Brauch says, "and we’re really, really pleased that MillerCoors has agreed to stop producing products that have a combination of caffeine and alcohol."
With these agreements from MillerCoors and Anheuser-Busch, 85% of all alcoholic energy drinks that were available at the start of 2008 will be off the market. Brauch says there are just a few brewers around the country still making an alcoholic beverage with caffeine added.
"The state attorneys general are definitely committed to removing all of these alcohol energy drinks from the market and so the Iowa attorney general is going to continue to work with our colleagues around the country to get these products off the shelves," Brauch says. "They’re inherently dangerous and they shouldn’t be sold."
Brauch cites a 2008 study by a Wake Forest University professor who found college students who mix more alcohol into products like the caffeinated "Sparks" — which already has alcohol in it — were twice as likely to be binge drinkers and were more likely to be injured while drinking.
The research also suggested the likelihood of sexual assault increased, too, among students who mixed booze into their alcoholic energy drink. It’s not like mixing Bailey’s in your coffee or rum in your Coke, according to the state attorneys general, as the drinks contain far more caffeine than coffee or soda.