Posted by: Caitlin Cavanaugh | November 29, 2010

Four Lokos may soon be taken off the shelves; FDA may ban the addition of caffeine to alcoholic beverages

By Caitlin Cavanaugh

Drink: Four Loko

The ingredients: Four beers and two cups of coffee

The size: 23.5 ounces

The cost: $3

A great debate has begun in the past few weeks, whether to allow Four Loko or to ban it. The FDA is currently discussing whether or not to ban this drink from stores. Recently, there have been many cases in which students have been hospitalized after drinking Four Loko. These hospitalizations have led to the ban of this beverage in Washington, Michigan, Utah and Oklahoma. The question that is causing many to wonder, is it the drink itself or students use of it?

“They are very dangerous,” Wendy Cox, a Burlington resident, said. “The alcohol content is high that’s why it’s dangerous for them to be mixing it with caffeine.”

She told the story of a man who came in to buy 25 cans at one time, “You can only buy five at one time because of the alcohol content. I hear that some people are also mixing vodka with it, as if it doesn’t already have enough alcohol in it?”

The alcoholic content in this drink is part of the problem. Even without the alcohol it is still a lot to have in one small can.

“I think they should ban it,” Jan Davis, a Burlington resident, said. “Sounds like kids are getting sick and hospitalized from it. I don’t think they would do it if they knew what it could do,” Davis said.

“Yes they would.” Rhett Davis, another Burlington resident, added. “They would experiment with it anyways.” This brings up the point of whether or not banning Four Lokos would stop people from drinking it.

“I think it should be banned,” Diana Hawkins, a Burlington resident, said. “I was a red bull and vodka girl once, but now I have a child.”

She also added that allowing people to mix it on their own is different because it is their own doing, but to allow it to be bought is another matter entirely. Although some adults are opposed to the drink, students have other views.

“I don’t think they should ban it,” Brian Oke, an Elon University senior said. “I think it comes down to personal responsibility how many drinks you have.” Other students around the country share his view. An Opposing View essay (www.opposingviews.com/i/a-ban-on-caffeinated-alcohol-drinks-won’t-work) are saying that it’s not the mix of caffeine that’s the problem, but instead the behavior that they engage in after drinking the Four Lokos.

A study done at Wake Forest University (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18439201) found that a total of 697 students reported drinking alcohol mixed with energy drinks. They found that younger, white students involved in fraternities or sororities were more likely to consume this beverage. It was also found that these students were involved in more alcohol related incidents.

The following website has more information about the caffeine and alcohol beverages. (http://www.fda.gov/Food/FoodIngredientsPackaging/ucm190366.htm)

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