Ban on caffeinated alcoholic beverages

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The ban on caffeinated alcoholic beverages in the United States was a result of multiple cases of alcohol poisoning and alcohol related blackouts. The majority of these alcohol poisoning cases were found on college campuses throughout the United States. Caffeinated alcoholic drinks such as Four Loko, Joose, and Tilt were the most popular around the U.S. The beverages, which combine malt liquor or other grain alcohol with caffeine and juices at alcohol concentrations up to about 12 percent, have become popular among younger generations. Their consumption has been associated with increased risk of serious injury, drunken driving, sexual assault and other behavior.[1]

Four Loko beverage, the most common caffeinated alcoholic beverage

Active ingredients[edit]

One of the more popular drinks Four Loko mix the amount of caffeine equal to three cups of coffee with the an alcohol equivalent to about three cans of beer. Critics argue that the beverages are designed to appeal to younger buyers that are used to drinking caffeinated energy drinks. A 23.5-U.S.-fluid-ounce (690 ml) can of Four Loko contains either 6 or 12 percent alcohol by volume, depending on state regulations.[2] Another reason for drinks such as Four Loko's appeal to youth is the pricing.[3] At approximately $2 a can, at this price it has been reported that college students or younger high school students would be more inclined to buy such beverages.[3] When the ban was placed many students bought out what was left on shelves for resale.[3] "I can buy it for around $2 a can, and as stores sell out, people are willing to pay more," said Greg Gerlach, an American University sophomore. "People know I'm selling it. Everyone knows I'm obsessed with this stuff."[3]

Proposed reason for ban[edit]

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that the beverages are regularly consumed by 31 percent of 12- to 17-year-olds and 34 percent of 18- to 24-year-olds. After this was released there was a parental outcry from the majority of country to ban the beverage.[4] Drinkers who consume alcohol-laced energy drinks are about twice as likely as drinkers who do not report mixing alcohol with energy drinks to report being taken advantage of sexually, to report taking advantage of someone else sexually, and to report riding with a driver who was under the influence of alcohol, according to the CDC.[4] Research has also noted that the extreme levels of alcohol and caffeine in the large serving beverages creates a "wide-awake drunk" that makes it impossible for people to comprehend how intoxicated they actually are and allows them to consume far more alcohol than they otherwise would be able to without passing out from intoxication.[3]

Food and Drug Administration[edit]

In November 2010 the U.S. Food and Drug Administration told the manufacturers of seven caffeinated alcoholic beverages including Four Loko that their drinks are a "public health concern" and can not stay on the market in their current form.[2] A member of the FDA said that the agency did not support the claim that the addition of caffeine to these alcoholic beverages is "generally recognized as safe," which was the legal standard at that given point.[2]

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention played an active role in banning these beverages

Removing caffeine[edit]

The decision to remove caffeine from the beverage came from a review by the FDA, which gave the companies a window to either remove the caffeine and other stimulants in the drinks or face possible penalties under federal law.[2] Experts have said the caffeine used in the beverages can mask the effects of alcohol, leaving drinkers unaware of how intoxicated they are. One of the companies that received letters of warning was Phusion Projects in Chicago which makes Four Loko. Phusion Projects announced in November 2010 that it was dropping caffeine and two other ingredients, guarana and taurine, from Four Loko because of a politically angered environment.[2]

Buying binge[edit]

In the last quarter of 2010, around Washington D.C. there were record sales on the beverage Four Loko.[3] Multiple liquor stores in the D.C. area near American and Georgetown universities claimed of an increase in caffeinated alcoholic beverages before they were moved from the shelves. Grocery stores near the George Washington University campus, also reported a large increase in sales of caffeinated alcoholic beverages.[3]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Harris, Gardiner (November 14, 2009). "F.D.A. Says It May Ban Alcoholic Drinks With Caffeine". New York Times. p. A11. 
  2. ^ a b c d e CNN WIre Staff (November 17, 2010). "FDA calls 7 caffeine-alcohol drinks unsafe". CNN. 
  3. ^ a b c d e f g Johnson, Jenna; Sieff, Kevin (November 19, 2010). "Alcoholic energy drink's ban fuels a buying binge". Washington Post. 
  4. ^ a b "FDA Expected to Ban Caffeinated Alcohol Drinks". U.S. News & World Report. HealthDay News. November 17, 2009.