State officials urge probe into alcoholic energy drinks

The U.S. Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Board (TTB) may investigate alcoholic energy drinks after officials from 16 states Thursday urged the board to do so, with some state attorneys general going so far as to subpoena documents from Anheuser-Busch C0s. Inc. and Miller Brewing Co.

The letter focused on Miller’s Sparks adult beverages, saying that Sparks contains more alcohol than the 6 percent by-volume listed on the label and contains double the amount of caffeine allowed in alcoholic beverages – 200 parts per million, according to a California press release.

Florida Attorney General Bill McCollum stepped beyond the communal letter, and told Jacksonville’s WTLV news that he believed Sparks marketed their drinks to children.

"There is an increasing and unacceptable trend in the alcohol industry to get kids to consume by making drinks that are part of the energy family, adding color and sparkle. It’s very questionable," McCollum said.

McCollum told the TV news broadcast that Sparks provided a gateway to underage drinking, and said his office is conducting his own investigation of the hybrid beverage.

The Associated Press reported that in August, attorneys general from 28 states, Guam and the District of Columbia sent a letter to federal authorities warning that brewers were aggressively marketing alcoholic energy drinks to young people.

Anheuser-Busch said in its statement Wednesday that it was unfair to target the company’s products while caffeinated cocktails were growing more popular on the bar scene.

‘If the Attorneys General truly believe that despite the state and federal regulatory approvals alcohol and caffeine should not be mixed, then they should use their powers to persuade these authorities to regulate or ban all such beverages, not just the lower-alcohol, prepackaged ones,’ the statement said.