Rhonda Kallman on FDA’s Caffeine Warning: “It’s not over until it’s over.”

Posted on Posted in Caffeine and Beer, FDA and Beer, New Century Brewing, Rhonda Kallman

In light of the Food and Drug Administration’s recent warning to a handful of beverage producers, and the quick ban of their products from the marketplace in several states, one of the overlooked parts of the story was the inclusion of New Century Brewing Company alongside producers such as Drink Four Brewing, makers of the controversial Four Loko product. New Century, which is run by longtime beer industry player Rhonda Kallman, produces a beer called Moonshot, which has 69 milligrams of caffeine and weighs in at a modest 4 percent alcohol by volume. Compared to the Four Loko product, which has caffeine, taurine, and guarana, boasts 6 to 12 percent alcohol, and is often served in a 23.5 ounce can, Moonshot seems to be in some odd company here. “I really am shocked that Moonshot is being put in the same category as high alcohol, neon colored energy drinks in 23.5 ounce servings,” Kallman said in an email. The company has “no plans to reformulate yet as “it’s not over until it’s over.”

The loss of one of the only two products New Century produces would be a definite body blow to a company that has experienced some very difficult times in its nine years of business. The film Beer Wars chronicles a lot of the hardships her company has experienced.

The company’s press release appears below.

MOONSHOT BEER FACES FDA BAN

New Century Brewing Company Supports Clarification on Caffeine from the Food and Drug Administration

BOSTON (November 19, 2010): Rhonda Kallman, founder of the fledgling New Century Brewing Company, said she was surprised to learn that her craft beer, Moonshot, was labeled by the FDA as a “public health concern” due to its 69 milligrams of caffeine. Moonshot, at a modest 4% alcohol and about as much caffeine as less than half cup of Starbucks in each 12-ounce bottle, seemed an unlikely target. The craft-brewed pilsner-style beer is sold in bars and restaurants in only three states.

Kallman, a craft beer industry pioneer and co-founder of the Boston Beer Company, has years of experience selling and marketing premium beers in a responsible way. She introduced Moonshot in 2004, after its formula was approved by the federal agency responsible for monitoring alcoholic beverage formulas.

But in the wake of recent high profile incidents involving underage drinking and the controversial Four Loko, a high-energy drink with 12% alcohol and as much caffeine as four cups of coffee in each 23.5 ounce serving, the FDA has concluded that caffeinated beverages violate safety rules, and it issued warning letters to four companies, including New Century Brewing. Kallman has been ordered to reformulate Moonshot without caffeine or face a ban of its sales. She has been given 15 days to comply.

Kallman had worked closely with the FDA for more than a year, providing the agency with clear and factual information on Moonshot’s safety. Kallman said she expected that the result of the year-long FDA inquiry would result in the regulation of caffeinated beverages — not their prohibition. “Without clear standards — acceptable levels of caffeine to percentage alcohol, or the regulation of serving sizes — it is difficult to understand an outright ban of Moonshot Beer,” said Kallman. “Caffeinated alcoholic beverages have been around for decades. Moonshot Beer is a new twist on an established idea.

“Moonshot is a beer with character, integrity, and a pedigree,” said Kallman. “It is responsibly marketed and simply offers beer lovers a choice — a beer with caffeine. It is not marketed as an energy drink, stimulant or alcoholic alternative of any type. It clearly stands apart from the other caffeinated alcoholic energy beverages that are on the market today.”

About New Century Brewing Company
New Century Brewing Company was founded in April 2001 by beer industry veteran, Rhonda Kallman, to bring innovative American beer styles to market. The company’s two products, Moonshot and Edison Light beer were formulated by Dr. Joseph Owades (1919-2005), a world-renowned brewing expert credited with the invention of light beer in the 1960’s.

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3 thoughts on “Rhonda Kallman on FDA’s Caffeine Warning: “It’s not over until it’s over.”

  1. I’ve known Rhonda for a long time and I feel bad for her. Clearly her product isn’t guzzled by troubled youths on street corners. She got kind of roped in with the others because Moonshot technically fell under the FDA’s parameters for this round: malt-based alcohol with caffeine added.

    1. I agree. As I said to someone else today, I don’t like that this is the way the product goes out. Would prefer to see the market handle it. With that said, concerns over the viability of both of New Century’s products long pre-date the FDA’s decision.

  2. One thing I’ve not seen mentioned anywhere is how the FDA ban affects all the coffee stouts out there. I’ve no idea about the actual caffeine in them but some reach Four Loko levels of alcohol. If brewers are forced to reformulate I think it would be good for the beer as my opinion is that a better flavor can be achieved by expert use of malt. I just wish that brewers would find this for themselves and not the FDA forcing them.

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