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Foster's to stop producing high alcohol pre-mixed spirit drinks

Published:  23 July, 2008

Australia's biggest liquor maker, Foster's Group, said it will stop producing high alcohol and added energy pre-mixed spirit drinks.

A limit of two standard drinks, or 20 grams of alcohol, per single serve container will be imposed across the company's pre- mixed spirit range.

Foster's said in a statement that it will also stop adding caffeine or taurine to drinks such as Cougar Volt.

The decision to drop brands such as Cougar XS bourbon and cola comes less than two weeks after Prime Minister Kevin Rudd announced a crackdown on binge drinking with a A$53.5 million (25.7m) campaign to reform the way young Australians consumer liquor.

Alcohol costs Asia's fifth-biggest economy A$15.3 billion (12.25bn) annually in workplace absenteeism and health care and accounts for 40% of all police work, according to the Canberra-based Alcohol and Other Drugs Foundation.

``We have listened to stakeholder concern and we are taking these steps proactively and voluntarily,'' said Jamie Odell, head of Foster's in Australia and the Asia Pacific.

``While these beverages have never been prominent in Foster's portfolio, we feel it is important to take this step.''

Rudd, who has a teenage son, wants to smash Australia's ``drinking culture.'' He's pledged to cut funding to sports clubs that abuse alcohol, launch programs to promote responsible drinking among teenagers and pay for a A$20 million (16m) national advertising blitz.

Australia ranked fifth behind Ireland, France, the United Kingdom and New Zealand for per capita consumption of alcohol, World Health Organisation figures from 2005 show.

``We believe strongly that the real issue is not 'bad' products, but rather poor drinking behavior,'' Odell said. ``However, we also acknowledge community concern that higher alcohol and added energy drinks may be particularly vulnerable to abuse.''