Four Loko and similar drinks under federal crackdown


The FDA has warned makers of Four Loko and similar drinks that their products are unsafe. Image from Wikimedia Commons.

Four Loko, a caffeinated alcoholic beverage, and similar products, have been labeled “unsafe” by federal authorities. The makers of Four Loko and similar caffeinated alcoholic beverages are being told to change their product or face consequences by federal agencies. Caffeinated alcoholic drinks have been under FDA investigation for months.

Four Loko already under investigation

Caffeinated alcoholic drinks, such as Four Loko, have been under federal investigation since November of 2009, according to the Washington Post. The investigation of products from at least 30 companies was spurred by requests for investigation from several state attorneys general. However, a string of recent incidents caused federal officials to take action. Letters were issued by the Food and Drug Administration to four companies that make seven similar products — including Phusion Projects Inc., which makes Four Loko — that mixing caffeine and alcohol is not approved by the FDA and was classified as unsafe. The companies that were notified of the FDA’s decision have 15 days to removed caffeine from their products or face legal action.

The Wildcats that broke the camel’s back

A couple of months ago, several students from Central Washington University were admitted to a hospital after consuming Four Loko along with other beverages, and Four Loko was subsequently banned in Washington state, effective Friday. However, Four Loko has also been implicated in other incidents, according to the New York Times. An 18-year-old died in Florida after taking diet pills and drinking Four Loko, and a 20-year-old in Tennessee drank Four Loko and committed suicide by gunshot later that night. Though it isn’t known whether Four Loko or similar beverages are clear culprits in any of these incidents, or were complicating factors, calls for having Four Loko banned are increasing. Phusion announced recently that it will discontinue the addition of caffeine to its drinks.

Bans implemented

Michigan and Washington State have banned Four Loko and similar products and New York state is right behind because there is some evidence that mixing caffeine and alcohol is not a safe combination.


Washington Post

New York Times

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