Buckfast gets smashed in Stateside caffeine blitz


By Michael MacLeod

BUCKFAST’S notorious reputation has spread to America, where health campaigners are warning of its caffeine content.

The tonic wine – mentioned in 5,000 Strathclyde police crime reports in the past three years – is already under fire from Scottish politicians for containing around 375mg of caffeine per litre.

And now it has been branded as 2010’s “Worst Caffeinated Product” by the Caffeine Awareness Association in the US.

But Buckfast’s makers accused the CAA of jumping on the bandwagon, after a recent BBC documentary which blamed the tonic wine for crime.

The stateside warning launched National Caffeine Awareness Month, which aims to highlight potential stimulant dependency and withdrawal problems.

Excess “can be fatal”

The CAA targeted Buckfast as the worst offending drink, claiming one bottle contains the caffeine equivalent of eight cans of Coke.

The organisation’s founder Marina Kushner said: “If you consume more than one gram you can receive irregular heartbeats, panic and anxiety disorders, muscle twitching, incoherent speech, excessive urination, flushed skin, and depression.

“And, believe it or not, when you ingest more than 5 grams, the results can be fatal.

“Many adolescents and teens abuse caffeine without realizing the damage it causes to their health.

“The less they weigh the greater the effect it has.

“For example, a child who drinks a can of cola is equal to an adult who drinks four cups of coffee.”

“No evidence”

Buckfast and other high-caffeine alcoholic drinks would be banned under Labour plans raised in the Scottish Parliament.

They pointed at studies showing it had more than twice the caffeine limit imposed in some Scandinavian countries.

Denmark, Iceland and Norway impose a legal limit of 150mg of caffeine per litre in alcoholic drinks and American health chiefs recently outlined plans for similar steps.

But the SNP Government said evidence on the effects of mixing caffeine and alcohol was “inconclusive” so refused to legislate on the issue in its new Alcohol Bill.

Jim Wilson, spokesman for Buckfast distributors J Chandler said: “There’s no evidence mixing alcohol and caffeine makes people more drunk or aggressive.

“Other drinks and some strong painkillers have caffeine in them too.”