Four Loko: Crazy Concern or Legit Liability?

by Melissa Brunner

Kansas joined the growing number of states Monday to say it's not so crazy about those alcoholic energy drinks. They're sold under names like Four Loko and Joose and have nicknames like "Liquid Cocaine" or "Blackout in a Can."

I hadn't heard of them until they started making headlines for their possible connections to overdoses and even deaths. So why this drink and not all alcohol? After all, hasn't alcohol itself been linked to overdoses and even deaths? The Food and Drug Administration says the danger comes from the mixture of alcohol and caffeine, with the caffeine counteracting the affects of the alcohol. Not only that, some say the fruity taste of the beverages makes them more appealing to young people. 

So what's different about this drink and mixing alcohol with a caffeinated cola? Or this drink and the fruity flavored wine coolers? The FDA says it's not just the caffeine and alcohol, but the amounts of caffeine and alcohol. They say the typical alcohol energy drink is 24 ounces, which contains three to four times the alcohol of a 12-ounce can of beer, and as much caffeine as several cups of coffee. The FDA's warning to manufactures last week told them "the caffeine content of your beverage could result in central nervous system effects if a consumer drank one or more of your product. Therefore, FDA believes the consumption of your product…may result in adverse behavioral outcomes because the caffeine is likely to counteract some, but not all, of the … effects of alcohol." The Kansas Division of Alcoholic Beveral Control cited that warning in delivering its decision Monday to ban the sale and distribution of the drinks in Kansas.

Where do you fall? Are these dangerous drinks whose sale must be stopped? Or should consumption of these drinks fall to personal choice and responsibility? I'm interested to hear your thoughts.

 

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