California Governor Jerry Brown has signed into law the Alcohol Beverage Control Act which bans the importation, sale, distribution and production of caffeinated beer in California beginning in 2012.
Senate Bill 39 prohibits the sale of beer which has had caffeine added to it as a separate ingredient. The bill will require all brands of the adulterated malt beverages to be removed from shelves of licensed retailers by the end of the year.
The bill was introduced by Senator Alex Padilla (D-Pacoima) after the Food and Drug Administration issued warning letters in November to four manufacturer's of the juiced up beverages that said that their product's contained an "unsafe food additive" and would need to be reformulated or removed from the market.
The FDA cited information obtained in publicly available literature that noted behaviour changes in young adults who consumed energy drinks and alcoholic beverages within short periods of time. The warning letter said, "Studies suggest that the combined ingestion of caffeine and alcohol may lead to hazardous and life-threatening situations because caffeine counteracts some, but not all, of alcohol's adverse effects."
Sen. Padilla said in a public statement:
“I applaud Governor Brown for signing SB 39. Caffeinated beer beverages are a threat to public health. The added caffeine masks the effects of the high alcohol content, which can lead to binge drinking and dangerous behavior. California now joins Massachusetts, New York, Washington, Utah, Michigan, and Kansas in banning these dangerous drinks."
Critics of caffeinated beer say the adulterated beverages are marketed to adults by manufacturers who use packaging that features bright, flashy colors that are appealing to the younger generation . Makers of caffeine infused beers offer fruity flavor options, which appeal to first-time drinkers.
Padilla pointed out a number of incidents that occurred on college campuses in Washington, Pennsylvania and New Jersey where caffeinated beers were responsible for the hospitalization of dozens of underage drinkers.