ST. LOUIS – Anheuser-Busch Cos. will quit selling caffeinated alcoholic drinks as part of a legal settlement, attorneys general for several states said Thursday.
Anheuser-Busch was marketing its caffeinated drinks to minors and misrepresenting the drinks' health benefits, New York Attorney General Andrew Cuomo said. He was among 11 attorneys general who reached a settlement with the nation's largest brewer.
Anheuser-Busch said it will reformulate its popular "Tilt" and "Bud Extra" brands to remove the stimulants they currently contain. The company has long been dogged by accusations that its marketing for the caffeinated alcoholic drinks targets those under the legal drinking age, thereby encouraging illegal sales. The St. Louis-based company did not directly address the charge in a statement.
"Although Bud Extra and Tilt met all regulatory requirements, had much less caffeine than a Starbucks coffee, and had received all necessary federal and state agency approvals, we are reformulating these products in response to the AG's concerns," said Francine Katz, Anheuser-Busch's vice president of communications.
In February, the attorneys general subpoenaed documents from Anheuser-Busch related to its marketing efforts for the alcoholic energy drinks, which include the "Tilt" and "Bud Extra" brands. The investigation was sparked by concerns that the drinks were targeted to teenagers and young adults already drawn to highly caffeinated drinks like Red Bull.
Documents reviewed in the case appeared to validate that concern, according to Cuomo's statement. The allegation was echoed during an afternoon news conference involving other attorneys general.
"Drinking is not a sport, a race, or an endurance test. Adding alcohol to energy drinks sends exactly the wrong message about responsible drinking, most especially to young people," Cuomo said in the statement. "This agreement keeps these dangerous products off our shelves and makes it clear that targeting underage consumers with advertisements for alcohol will not be tolerated."
Anheuser-Busch also agreed to pay $200,000 to the states that investigated the brewer's practices. In addition to New York, those states include Arizona, California, Connecticut, Idaho, Illinois, Iowa, Maine, Maryland, New Mexico, and Ohio.
Cuomo said the states continue to investigate other companies selling alcoholic energy drinks.