I enjoy a drink from time to time. Alcohol, that is. Afterwards, I often like to wake up with some coffee. I’ve done this my whole life. So what? Many people drink mixtures of caffeine and alcohol, like rum and Coke. Again, so what?
Last year, many college kids began drinking alcoholic energy drinks like Four Loko and Moonshot ’69. Some got sick and landed in the hospital. Out came the hysterical TV reporters. Of course, as I write in this week’s syndicated column, that led to ban-happy regulators getting involved:
As night follows day, the Food and Drug Administration in November ordered beverage companies to lose the caffeine or shut down. The FDA called caffeine an "unsafe food additive." Phusion Products says it will now produce only non-caffeinated Four Loko. Moonshot '69 is off the market for now, which is bad news for Rhonda Kallman, who founded the company that makes it, New Century Brewing.
"There is nothing new about adults combining caffeine and alcohol," Kallman writes on her company website. "Who hasn't enjoyed a rum and Coke, Irish coffee, Kahlua or espresso martini? ... Moonshot '69 is a beer for beer drinkers that has been enjoyed by craft-beer lovers since 2004."
Her online petition states: "We the undersigned support the right of responsible adults to choose the beer of their choice. We support Moonshot69 and the rights of craft brewers across the country to produce new and innovative offerings for the beer drinking public. ... We call on the federal government to adhere to responsible regulation of alcoholic beverages that allows adults to enjoy the beer of their choice."
Unfortunately, Kallman tries to separate her product from higher-alcohol FDA targets, but Nick Gillespie of Reason magazine argues that the FDA has no business limiting the sale of any of the alcohol/caffeine combos.
"This has been going on for as long as there have been colleges and universities," he said.
"You can go back to the Middle Ages, and booze and students go together like, I guess, beer and caffeine.”
I talk more with Kallman and Gillespie this week at 9pm EST on FBN. Full column here.