Attorney General Madigan demands manufacturers, retailers stop selling alcohol energy drinks

Staff Writer
Aledo Times Record

Attorney General Lisa Madigan together with the Illinois Department of Public Health and the Illinois Liquor Control Commission have issued letters to manufacturers selling caffeinated alcohol drinks in Illinois demanding they immediately halt the sale of these beverages. Madigan’s demand follows a ruling by the federal Food and Drug Administration last week deeming these products unsafe for consumption.

In issuing the letters, Attorney General Madigan warned that failure to adhere to the immediate removal of these drinks could amount to violations of the state’s Consumer Fraud and Deceptive Business Practices Act and the Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act. Madigan emphasized businesses could stand to lose licenses to manufacture market or sell any alcohol products statewide if they fail to comply.

“With our letter today, we are demanding the last cans and bottles of these dangerous beverages be removed from store shelves in Illinois,” Attorney General Madigan said. “These drinks glamorize alcohol abuse and threaten the safety of those consuming them.”

The Attorney General’s action today is only the latest step in her ongoing effort to protect young people from the marketing and use of harmful products. As a member of the National Association of Attorneys General Youth Access to Alcohol Committee, Madigan has repeatedly expressed concerns regarding alcoholic energy drinks.

In 2008, Madigan and the attorneys general of 12 other states and the San Francisco city attorney initiated investigations of the two leading manufacturers of alcoholic energy drinks at that time: MillerCoors Brewing and Anheuser-Busch Inc. The investigations resulted in the companies’ halt to production of caffeinated alcoholic beverages.

In August 2007, Madigan urged the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau, the federal agency responsible for monitoring the marketing of alcohol, to increase its efforts to prevent misleading claims by alcoholic energy drink manufacturers. Similarly in May 2007, Madigan joined other attorneys general in urging Anheuser-Busch to change its advertising of another alcoholic energy drink, called Spykes. Anheuser-Busch pulled Spykes from stores in response. Madigan also urged Anheuser-Busch to require additional information for age verification before visitors may access one of its popular product websites; the company installed an age verification program on its site so that visitors must provide first and last names, zip code, and date of birth.

Attorney General Madigan has also taken action to stop companies from using illicit drug culture themes to market non-alcoholic energy drinks to young people. In May 2008, Madigan demanded the Las Vegas company Kingpin Concepts Inc. discontinue its cocaine-themed marketing and sale of an energy drink named “Blow,” a drink mix that glorified drug culture and raised serious health concerns due to its high caffeine content. Kingpin agreed to cease sales of the product in Illinois. In May 2007, Madigan reached a similar agreement with the California-based Redux Beverages, LLC, for its distribution of an energy drink named “Cocaine.”

Additionally, in October 2006, Madigan and 38 other attorneys general entered a settlement with R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Company (RJR) to end its sale of candy, fruit and alcohol flavored cigarettes that the group allegedly targeted mainly to youth.