WASHINGTON (CN) – MillerCoors is selling an “alcoholic energy drink” through false advertising, the Center for Science in the Public Interest says in Federal Court. The drink called Sparks targets young drinkers, says the suit, with claims that the sweet-tasting hooch mixed with caffeine and other stimulants enables them to drink more without feeling drunk.
“No studies ensure the safety of – and new evidence demonstrates the risk of – consuming stimulants and alcohol together,” the Center says. It says the beer company exposes young drinkers, and underage drinkers, to multiple harm by mixing alcohol and caffeine with “non-traditional substances” such as taurine, ginseng, guarana.
It claims the drinks “taste more like a soft drink than an alcoholic beverage” and MillerCoors pushes it by claiming “that consuming alcohol and caffeine allows one to drink more alcohol without feeling as intoxicated as would otherwise be the case.”
“For new and experienced drinkers alike, the presence of the stimulants is a potentially fatal addition,” the complaint states. “The stimulants increase the risk that drinkers will engage in dangerous behavior such as driving, because they do not feel drunk, even though their behavior/skills might be degraded. A study on the interaction between alcohol and energy drinks found that stimulants did nothing to reduce alcohol’s negative effects on motor coordination skills and visual reaction time, but did reduce subjective perception of alcohol intoxication – thus intoxicated persons do not feel as drunk as they may be.”
A task force of state attorneys general wrote federal authorities a letter in August 2007, warning that “adding caffeine and other stimulants to alcohol may increase the risk to young consumers because those additives tend to reduce the perception of intoxication and make greater quantities of alcohol palatable,'” the complaint states.
The scientists say MillerCoors push their dangerous drink with deceptive claims on the company Web site. They demand an injunction against the alleged deceptive advertising and prohibiting the manufacture of the drinks until the additives are shown to be safe with alcohol. Plaintiffs’ lead counsel is Stephen Gardner.