beer energy drink, miller coors sparks, sparks beer

States Sue MillerCoors Over Alcoholic Energy Drink

September 18, 2008 04:29 PM
by Isabel Cowles
Twenty-five states and interest groups have asked MillerCoors to suspend releasing an energy drink, Sparks Red, that contains both alcohol and caffeine.

States just say “no” to energy-spiked beer

Twenty-five states and interest groups have asked MillerCoors to cancel the release of an alcohol-infused energy drink, Sparks Red. Authorities are concerned that the drink’s colorful packaging and apparent parallel to popular energy drinks like Red Bull will appeal to teens and college-age drinkers.

According to MillerCoors’ official Sparks Web site, current versions of Sparks contain 6–7 percent alcohol by volume, as compared to Miller High Life and Coors beers, which contain less than 5 percent alcohol by volume.

State attorneys general claim that the new beverage will contain nearly eight percent alcohol by volume. State and interest groups are also concerned that mixing alcohol with the stimulants in Sparks, which include caffeine and guarana, can have dangerous effects.

The Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) filed suit against MillerCoors Brewing Company over the production of Sparks, noting that “Sparks’ appeal to young people is enhanced by its sweet citrusy taste, redolent of SweeTarts candy,” said CSPI litigation director Steve Gardner. “MillerCoors is trying to hook teens and ’tweens on a dangerous drink.”

According to a study performed at Wake Forest School of Medicine, college students who mix alcohol and energy drinks have twice as many episodes of weekly drunkenness.
In addition, such students “are at increased risk for alcohol-related consequences, even after adjusting for the amount of alcohol consumed,” the study says.

“Sparks is a drink designed to mask feelings of drunkenness and to encourage people to keep drinking past the point at which they otherwise would have stopped,” said George A. Hacker, director of CSPI’s alcohol policies project. “The end result is more drunk driving, more injuries, and more sexual assaults.”

MillerCoors published a statement arguing that the Federal Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau has approved all recipes and labels for the various types of Sparks, which include Sparks Light, Sparks Plus and Sparks Red. “We have and we will continue to ensure that the labeling, marketing and product formulations of all our brands meet all applicable federal regulations and that our brands are marketed responsibly to legal drinking age adults,” the company said.

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