SAN FRANCISCO: An advocacy group against the promotion of 'alco-pops' has called for a ban on the marketing of such products to American youth.
Bruce Lee Livingston, CEO of Alcohol Justice, made the comments following revelation from Diageo that their Jamaican based subsidiary, Red Stripe, was deliberately marketing and testing a youth-orientated alco-pop on the 18-24 year old female market.
Although Diageo state that the new raspberry flavored malt beverage (Fruit Burst), is currently only available in Jamaica, spokesperson for the company, Erin Mitchell addmitted that the same product was being considered for the American market.
An article printed by a Jamaican media organization included a statement by Ms. Mitchell in which she said she hoped the new beverage would have "crossover appeal". She suggested the pink and red labels and raspberry beer flavor has already been tested to appeal to young women in particular.
According to the article, the decision to distribute the product line in the U.S., Canada and the UK will be made by "Red Stripe teams" in those countries.
Livingston, of the San Rafael based advocacy group said alcopops were designed as "cocktails on training wheels" and were deliberately made to be attractive to lure underage youth into unhealthy drinking behaviors. He called on the Federal Trade Commission (FTA) and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to look into the matter.
Public Affairs Director at Alcohol Justice, Michael Scippa added: "Now that we have in a producer's own words, that they are targeting people under the age of 21 with alcopops, we are renewing our call for change to reduce the threat to youth."
Livingston said his organization is asking Diageo to promise not to market any Red Stripe alcopop products in the United States.
"Furthermore, we ask them to start limiting their production and distribution of Smirnoff Ice products which come in many sweet and fruity youth-oriented flavors,"Livingston said.
"It may be time for the FTC and the FDA to look at marketing and product development of Diageo brands. The fruit and fruit flavoring additives to alcopops could arguably be viewed as food additives to an alcohol product," he added.
Livingston also noted that as the primary regulators of alcoholic beverages, they have full legal authority to ban dangerous alcoholic products to help mitigate the devastating public health threat they present to underage drinkers.
"It's time for all of them to take action," he stated.
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