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Spring 2007 | Vol. 10 | No. 1
Anheuser-Busch Again Criticized for Appealing to Teens
Anheuser-Busch (AB) has again raised the ire of public health and safety advocates over the promotion of one if its products. The controversial product is "Spykes"—a 2-ounce bottle of flavored malt beverage meant to be mixed with beer or other drinks or consumed as a shot.
Packaged in colorful bottles, Spykes contains 12 percent alcohol by volume. It comes in four flavors-lime, mango, melon and hot chocolate. The product also contains caffeine, ginseng and guarana, which are the components of energy drinks such as Red Bull that are very popular with young adults. Critics such as the Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) and Mothers Against Drunk Drivers (MADD) say these flavors and characteristics mask the taste of alcohol, making it easier to get drunk on the product.
Glynn Birch, MADD National President has objected to Spykes on multiple grounds, including the fact that the promotion of the product ("It opens the night up to experimentation") appears to be attractive to teenagers. MADD has requested that AB withdraws its promotion of the product.
"This is a shameful ploy to market malt liquor to the Lunchables set," said George A. Hacker, director of alcohol policies at CSPI. "Anheuser-Busch is practically begging to be investigated, subpoenaed, sued or hauled before a Congressional committee to explain this one."
AB officials have defended the drink. "As with all of our products, we encourage the responsible consumption of Spykes," said Francine Katz, AB's Vice President of Communications and Consumer Affairs.
The Alcohol Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB) has announced it now believes that Spykes warning labels are too small and unreadable. TTB had initially approved the labels. AB has agreed to halt Spykes shipments and reprint the labels.