* Four Loko to pull caffeine from alcoholic energy drinks
* Warning expected from FDA, FTC
By Martinne Geller
NEW YORK, Nov 17 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."
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
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)