Australian Firms to Stop Manufacturing Alcohol-laced Energy Drinks

by Gopalan on  March 21, 2008 at 2:20 PM General Health News
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Australian Firms to Stop Manufacturing Alcohol-laced Energy Drinks
Two Australian liquor firms announced Thursday that they would stop producing alcohol-laced energy drinks and extra-strong pre-mixed spirits.

The alcohol content of their other products too would be limited to two standard drinks a serve.

The move sparked a call by the federal Government for other companies to follow suit.

Health Minister Nicola Roxon said it was a step in the right direction, but there was more to be done.

''We hope that this is the beginning of a wider appetite among companies . . . for change,'' she said.

''This is a community-wide problem that demands a community-wide response.''

Already the federal government is pushing for a crack down on binge-drinking epidemic.

Six current Foster's and Lion Nathan products will be affected.

Foster's Cougar Volt, a bourbon energy drink, will no longer be produced, while Cougar XS, a bourbon-and-cola product, will have its alcohol content reduced.

Its Karloff Energy vodka drink will also be withdrawn.

Lion Nathan's McKenna Energy, a bourbon drink, will be axed, while another McKenna bourbon drink will have its strength reduced.

A 9 per cent alcohol content Inner Circle rum and cola will also have its strength reduced.

But then both Foster's and Lion are minor players in the high alcohol and ready-to-drink (RTD) market. Hence what is of interest is how others react.

The world's largest alcohol company, Diageo, said it had led the way in imposing a two standard drinks per serve limit last year itself.

But a spokesman said the company had no plans to pull its Smirnoff Ice Black with Guarana, saying it kept caffeine levels to a minimum and did not market it as an energy drink.

Jim Beam said it saw no sense in imposing a limit as binge drinkers did not tend to buy more expensive high alcohol RTDs.

Another major supplier of RTDs, Independent Distillers, refused to even discuss the initiative.

''We are not going to enter the debate,'' a spokesman for the Auckland-based company said.

Independent Distillers supplies a number of high-strength pre-mixed products and alcoholic energy drinks favoured by teens, and known as alcopops.

The flurry of announcements came as the deadline closed for submissions to a Senate inquiry into alcohol advertising.

Reacting to the announcement from the manufacturers, the Alcohol and other Drugs Council of Australia said pre-mixed drinks would continue to be abused.

''They are still a recipe for disaster,'' chief executive David Templeman said.

''They need to stop their targeted campaigns where these things are made very attractive to kids.''

Young people at Sydney bars did not think the move would deter binge drinking. Lana, 21, said the drinks that were being pulled were not that popular and mostly targeted men. Even if they did remove the popular high-alcohol pre-mixed drinks, it would not stop young women drinking. ''They'd probably get a full glass with double shots instead,'' she said.

Nor would removing alcoholic energy drinks make a difference. ''They'd just go back to ordering vodka and Red Bull. Before the lolly drinks were around, were getting drunk anyway.''

Source: Medindia

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