Rowe Calls on Feds to Investigate Alcoholic Energy Drink

February 21, 2007

Today, Attorney General Steve Rowe urged the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB) to take immediate action to investigate allegations that Sparks and Sparks Plus alcoholic energy drinks contain unsafe levels of caffeine. The letter also requests TTB to determine if the alcohol content in Sparks alcoholic energy drink is higher than the 6.0% alcohol by volume disclosed on the label. Attorney General Rowe is joined by 15 attorneys general in calling for this action.

The request stems from a news report on February 1st by CBS4 in Miami. The report disclosed that independent laboratory tests found that 16 ounce cans of Sparks and Sparks Plus alcoholic energy drinks contain 214mg and 215mg of caffeine respectively. Attorneys general obtained the laboratory reports from the station and discovered that the laboratory also found that Sparks, which is labeled 6.0% alcohol by volume, contained 6.97% alcohol by volume.

TTB limits amounts of ingredients that can be added to or found in alcoholic beverages. The limit for caffeine is 200 parts per million. The amounts of caffeine purportedly found in Sparks and Sparks Plus are more than two times the allowable limit. In addition, federal law requires containers of malt beverage to contain truthful and accurate statements of alcohol content. Sparks is labeled as containing 6.0% alcohol by volume. If Sparks contains more than 6.0% alcohol by volume, the mislabeling of the product is a practice that is prohibited by federal law.

?I am gravely concerned about the negative health outcomes that may result from consumers unknowingly mixing dangerously high amounts of caffeine with higher than disclosed amounts of alcohol,? said Attorney General Rowe. ?Caffeine is a stimulant that can mask feelings of intoxication, giving drinkers the false impression that they can drink more and function normally. This is a recipe for disaster.?

The 15 attorneys general signing the TTB letter are all members of the National Association of Attorneys General Youth Access to Alcohol Committee. The Committee has been focusing on issues related to alcopops and alcoholic energy drinks as they are very popular with young drinkers. The Attorneys general highlighted recent findings by Dr. Mary Claire O?Brien in a Wake Forest University study of college students. The study found that college students,

including underage students, who drank alcoholic energy drinks were more likely to engage in heavy drinking and to have significantly higher prevalence of alcohol-related consequences, like sexual assault and physical injury, then those college drinkers who did not mix alcohol with energy drinks.

To view the CBS4 news report please visit:


February 21 , 2008 Contact: Jessica Maurer, (207) 626-8515