Loko lovers lose liquor

December 15, 2010

by Mary Timmons, Staff Reporter

Combining caffeine, taurine, guarana and alcohol, which are some of the ingredients in Four Loko, and cramming it into a 23.5 oz can is enough to make anyone go crazy.

This is why the Food and Drug Administration and the Federal Trade Commission have issued warning letters to Four Loko Manufacturer, Phusion Projects, and three other manufacturers of caffeinated malt beverages. The FTC stated on its website Four Loko has the same alcohol content as four regular or five light beers as well as caffeine and stimulants.

The FDA swarned four companies about the amount of caffeine used in its beverages, calling it an “unsafe food additive” under the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act

“Experts have raised concerns that caffeine can mask some of the sensory cues individuals might normally rely on to determine their level of intoxication,” the website said.

In a seeming preemptive move, the Phusion Projects’ website, phusionprojects.com, announced Nov. 16 that it intends to reformulate its products by removing stimulants and only producing non-caffeinated versions of Four Loko.

The company stated on the website that they “are taking this step after trying – unsuccessfully – to navigate a difficult and politically-charged regulatory environment at both the state and federal levels.”

Distributors can no longer sell Four Loko to liquor stores. With the drink sales soon coming to an end in Ruston, some individuals have chosen to purchase the remaining supply at local liquor stores.

Corey Gray, a junior business economics major, recently bought a 12-can case of Devine Wines & Spirits Plus’ last shipment of Phusion Projects’ beverage Four Loko.

“I heard rumors that it wasn’t going to be sold anymore,” Gray said, “but when I went, I found out it was the last shipment, I bought a larger amount. I originally was only going to buy three cans.”

The FTC said consumers, like Gray, might mistakenly assume that these beverages are safe because they are widely sold.

“I never thought about how bad they can be for you. For me, it was no different than a beer or any other alcoholic beverage,” Gray said. “The main thing is knowing your limits on how much you can drink and how much you shouldn’t drink.”

Vincent Walker, an employee at Rabb’s Drive-Thru Liquor LLC, said he personally dislikes Four Loko, but he does not think they should be banned completely.

“I think that it should have a warning on the can because people drink them at their own risk,” Walker said. “I don’t think people are educated enough on the health facts. Honestly, they are not too different from a Red Bull and vodka or Jager bomb.”

E-mail comments to mnt005@latech.edu.