In anticipation of the Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) expected announcement that it is unsafe to add caffeine to alcoholic drink products effectively banning such beverages, Four Loko has decided to pull its caffeinated alcohol drink from shelves. Moreover, from now on, the drink’s company Phusion Products will stop putting caffeine in new batches as well.
There has been a strong movement against such caffeine-laced alcoholic beverages after several incidents at colleges around the country in which students were hospitalized after consuming the beverages. Four Loko and other similar caffeinated alcoholic drink products have already been banned in Michigan, Oklahoma, Utah, and Washington, and other states are reportedly also considering doing the same.
The announcement by the FDA is actually a long time coming — a year ago, the regulatory agency let the beverage makers know it had never given permission to add caffeine to alcoholic beverages and would be investigating its effects.
The three co-founders of Phusion Products, Chris Hunter, Jeff Wright and Jaisen Freeman, maintain their Four Loko is not dangerous, however: “We have repeatedly contended – and still believe, as do many people throughout the country – that the combination of alcohol and caffeine is safe.”
Indeed, the FDA’s findings don’t seem to focus on the safety of the beverages but rather on the popularity of the drinks among college-age students as well as the possibility that consumers of the beverages tend to feel more alert and awake — leading them to believe they can manage tasks such as driving when really they’re still under the influence of alcohol. According to the company’s website, one 23.5-ounce can of Four Loko contains 12% alcohol, which equals about four beers.
What do you think about caffeinated alcoholic drinks? Should they be regulated or even banned?