FDA Warning: Caffeinated Alcoholic Beverages Are “Loko”
On November 17, 2010, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration issued Warning Letters to four makers of caffeinated alcoholic beverages advising them that, following a scientific review by the Agency, the FDA concludes that there is no support for the claim that the addition of caffeine to the identified alcoholic beverages is “generally recognized as safe”. To the contrary, the FDA found that the combination of alcohol and caffeine in these drinks poses a public health concern because the beverages can mask the effects of alcohol leaving the drinker unaware of how intoxicated they are. CNN Reports that critics of the drinks, nicknamed “blackout in a can”, note that the drink producers target young drinkers who may not be aware of the high alcohol volume with a single 23.5 ounce can of Four Loko containing a potent mix of caffeine equal to three cups of coffee and alcohol equal to three cans of beer. The caffeine makes “wide awake drunks” but wears off quicker than the alcohol leading to blackouts.
According to the FDA’s press release, the drinks affected are: “Four Loko”, “Joose”, “Max” “Core High Gravity HG”, “Core High Gravity HG Orange”, “Lemon Lime Core Spiked”, and “Moonshot”. The FDA views the November 16 announcement of Fusion Projects, LLC, the maker of Four Loko, of its intent to remove caffeine and other stimulants from its drink as a “positive step”. The Warning Letters request that the recipients inform the FDA, in writing, within 15 days of the specific steps that will be taken to remedy the violation and prevent a recurrence. If the FDA is not appeased, it could seize the products or seek an injunction preventing the firms from continuing to produce the products in their current forms. The FDA has also prepared “Questions and Answers” that provides greater information about its findings and actions.