Thursday, December 11, 2008

Alcopop stings throughout Florida

On December 5th the Division of Alcoholic Beverages and Tobacco conducted a statewide sting operation on the sale of so-called "Alcopops" to minors. Investigative Aides under 21 were sent in to attempt to purchase malt-beverages (think Smirnoff Ice, Sparkz, Mike's Hard Lemonade, etc.) Naturally Miami rang in at the lowest compliance rate, 58%, with 14 'arrests' (actually a Notice to Appear, coupled with a stern talking to) out of 33 businesses inspected. The statewide rate was 76% compliance.

Alcopops are complicated, because they walk the fine line between targeting underage drinkers and meeting the demands of an emerging niche market. Also their dubious status as 'malt beverages' can have certain tax and advertising benefits, which is why there isn't actually Smirnoff in your Smirnoff Ice. Often, they are nearly indistinguishable from other energy drinks or soft drinks, hence the emphasis on education for the retailers in these raids.

The Lehrman Bevlog has an interesting post about some recent labels for one of these products, where the label of Tilt has switched from listing caffeine and guarana as ingredients, to simply 'natural flavors'. It's obvious that is to avoid the scrutiny being given to these drinks by state AGs. See this earlier post. The question remains, does this still have caffeine in it? And what about people who are allergic to it?

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The Twentyfirst Amendment Meets the 21st Century by Russell Hews Everett is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License. The opinions expressed on this page are purely my own, and should not be taken to constitute legal representation or advice.