Covering Kentucky

Dec 23, 2010 4:19 PM

Kentucky Considers Ban On Caffeinated Energy Drinks

(AP) - Kentucky may consider a ban on sales of high-caffeine energy drinks to anyone under 18 years old.

The proposal comes on the heels of action by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to declare caffeine in alcoholic energy drinks an "unsafe food additive."

Republican state Rep. Danny Ford of Mount Vernon said Thursday he believes even nonalcoholic energy drinks could pose a health risk to children who drink them.

Kentucky lawmakers have considered such a ban on the caffeinated energy drinks in the past, but the idea has never garnered enough support to pass. With new information raising fresh concerns, Ford said he believes it's time to try again when lawmakers convene the 2011 legislative session on Jan. 4.

"I think if we had some of the information then that we have now that it would have passed," he said.

The proposal targets carbonated drinks that contain 71 milligrams of caffeine per 12-ounce serving and that contain the chemicals taurine and glucuronolactone, which are commonly used in energy drinks.

The FDA, under pressure because of a rash of hospitalizations of college students, issued warning letters in November to manufacturers of alcoholic energy drinks. The FDA's concern was that caffeine in the drinks could mask a person's feeling of intoxication, raising risks for alcohol poisoning.

Some states already have banned alcoholic energy drinks and others are considering it.

In November, the Kentucky Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control called on retailers to voluntarily stop selling alcoholic energy drinks.

Ford's measure would make it harder for teens to get ingredients to mix alcohol and caffeinated energy drinks to concoct their own drinks.

The Kentucky Beverage Association had no comment Thursday about Ford's proposal, which has already been drafted into legislation and is ready to be introduced.

The measure puts the onus on retailers to uphold a ban.

"It would be like cigarettes or anything else," Ford said. "They couldn't sell to anyone under 18."

(Copyright 2010 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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