Four Loko maker to pull caffeine from alcohol drink

Wed Nov 17, 2010 10:04am EST

* Four Loko to pull caffeine from alcoholic energy drinks

* Warning expected from FDA, FTC

By Martinne Geller

NEW YORK, Nov 17 (Reuters) - The maker of controversial alcoholic energy drink Four Loko said it would remove caffeine and other stimulants from all of its beverages ahead of an expected crackdown by U.S. regulators.

Chicago-based Phusion Projects said late on Tuesday that it planned to reformulate its Four Loko drinks to remove caffeine, guarana and taurine.

"We are taking this step after trying -- unsuccessfully -- to navigate a difficult and politically charged regulatory environment at both the state and federal levels," Phusion's three co-founders and managing partners said in a statement on the company's website.

The news came just after U.S. Senator Charles Schumer said the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and the Federal Trade Commission, planned to warn manufacturers that adding caffeine to alcoholic drinks is unsafe and to caution them against selling such products, often called "blackout in a can." [ID:nN16154911]

The FDA and other agencies plan to announce results of a review on caffeinated alcoholic drinks at 1 p.m. ET.

"Blackout in a can" drinks have grabbed headlines across the country in recent weeks after nine college students in Washington state were hospitalized after drinking quantities of Four Loko and similar beverages off-campus.

Health experts say mixing alcohol and caffeine is dangerous because the stimulant masks the effects of the alcohol, allowing people to continue drinking long after they would have otherwise stopped.

Four Loko, which comes in fruit flavors and brightly colored cans, is 12 percent alcohol. That means that one 23.5-ounce can is comparable to drinking five or six beers.

Major brewers, including Anheuser-Busch and MillerCoors, stopped making drinks mixing alcohol and caffeine in 2008 amid pressure from state authorities, but smaller companies have filled the gap.

Anheuser is part of Anheuser-Busch InBev (ABI.BR), and MillerCoors consists of the combined U.S. operations of SABMiller (SAB.L) and Molson Coors Brewing Co (TAP.N). (Reporting by Martinne Geller; Editing by Lisa Von Ahn)

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Comments (21)
eric578 wrote:
people can still buy coke and rum, and then combine them *GASP* caffeinated alcohol! You can even buy them at bars. heaven forbid someone start adding whiskey to coffee.

nanny state protect me from myself!

Nov 17, 2010 10:45am EST  --  Report as abuse
dannyj119 wrote:
Oh no. Now I have to buy a separate can of Redbull to go w/my booze. Thank you for saving me, my ever effective government!! Now how about ending a couple of wars and balancing the budget instead of regulating what adults choose to knowingly put in their bodies.

Nov 17, 2010 10:45am EST  --  Report as abuse
fearzepenguin wrote:
Banning drinks like this, is the same as banning liquor, since it gets you drunk quicker than would drinking beer.

“Blackout in a Can”? Really? College students get hospitalized everywhere because they’ve drank entirely too many other beverages, it’s called knowing your limits….

Next, they’ll be banning serving alcohol with any caffeinated substance in bars, even putting Irish Cream in coffee!

Seriously, if they banned everything that college students got put in the hospital for, there would be nothing fun left for us responsible adults to do…

Nov 17, 2010 10:50am EST  --  Report as abuse
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