FDA bans caffeinated alcoholic drinks; college parties everywhere get more boring

Just like Philly P, parties with more than two kegs, and Dan Porterfield, another piece of college canon is leaving us for good. After a struggle led by pretty much everybody except college students, the Food and Drug Administration banned Four Loko and other caffeinated alcoholic drinks.

Today, the FDA sent letters to four companies—including Four Loko’s manufacturer, Phusion Products—informing them that the FDA had decided that adding caffeine to alcoholic beverages was unsafe. The companies must take action within fifteen days, or the FDA warns it will seize the products or seek a court order to ban the distribution of the products.

“FDA does not find support for the claim that the addition of caffeine to these alcoholic beverages is ‘generally recognized as safe,’ which is the legal standard,” Joshua M. Sharfstein, the FDA’s principal deputy commissioner, said in a statement. “To the contrary, there is evidence that the combinations of caffeine and alcohol in these products pose a public health concern.”

Just last night, Phusion took preemptive action by announcing that they would remove caffeine, taurine, and guanine—three of the four ingredients that give Four Loko its name—from their beverages.

“We are taking this step after trying—unsuccessfully—to navigate a difficult and politically charged regulatory environment at both the state and federal levels,” co-founders Chris Hunter, Jeff Wright and Jaisen Freeman said.

D.C. hasn’t announced plans for legislative action yet, which means the city may wait for other states to ban the drink, effectively eliminating it from circulation. As for your favorite local liquor stops, the future of Four Loko is unclear.

Wagner’s said that they are waiting to hear back from distributors about whether or not the product will continue to be made available. Towne Liquor still has Four Loko on the shelves, but employee David Shin said that they have not placed future orders for the drink.

“Considering it’s kind of an issue right now, we haven’t decided whether or not we are going to continue to stock it,” Shin said.

Stock up, folks, because livin’ la vida Loko just got a whole lot more difficult.

h/t Washington Post

21 Comments on “FDA bans caffeinated alcoholic drinks; college parties everywhere get more boring

  1. Correction: it is only alcoholic energy drinks that are banned. Non-alcoholic caffeinated energy drinks are still very much legal.

  2. Glad to see that “boring” is now mutually exclusive with responsible behavior. Thanks for clearing that one up, Vox. Believe it or not, for some of us an intelligent sober discussion is often far more interesting than a crowded room too tired to keep their eyes open if not for caffeine, and too drunk to form a coherent sentence.

    I’m surprised by the lack of comments thus far defending the inalienable right to destroy one’s body and make stupid decisions. I suppose it’s because as this blog post contained neither alcohol nor caffeine, it was deemed to boring to read.

  3. anyone know of any places around here that still have these on their shelf to stock up on before they’re gone for good?

  4. Now how will I get my Red Bull and Vodka fix? Oh wait… Red Bull and Vodka

  5. I abhor any decision that infringes upon the inalienable right to destroy one’s body and make stupid decisions.

    BTW, your comment could use some caffeine+alcohol…

  6. No, don’t worry. I agree with you. Glad to see there are other like-minded people out there.

  7. If Four-Loko is outlawed, only outlaws will have Four-Loko!

  8. So this is how liberty dies: with thunderous applause.

  9. I wouldn’t call this “liberty dying”; it’s more like “the FDA doing its job.” The whole reason they’re on the government payroll is to assess food and drug products to make sure they’re safe enough for the reason they’re being sold. Apparently, Four Loko isn’t. As a history major whose chemistry and health science skills are somewhat underdeveloped, I’m not going to claim to know better.

  10. The FDA is being a nanny – they have not conducted any scientific studies to justify the ban. So Eileen, is that how you think the government should make its decisions – based on newspaper reports of students “overdosing” on drinks that anybody can mix from normal bar contents? What happened to being “science based” in the administration’s decisions?

    If caffeinated alcoholic drinks are such a danger, they need to ban rum and cokes and a lot of other mixed drinks people have consumed for decades.

    I have no desire to even try these drinks – my years at GU go back to the days of “The Pub” – but we don’t need more nanny government, we need less.

  11. If I’m going by your judgement, the FDA isn’t just “being a nanny” in this case, it IS a nanny, since its whole purpose is to tell us that we can’t buy things we want to because they’re not safe – in which case your problem goes a lot higher than Four Loko. Alcoholic energy drinks are a relatively new animal: Yes, people have mixed alcohol with Coke for a long time, but the amount of caffeine in one 12 oz can of Coke is about 40 mg. An 8 oz can of Red Bull has about 80 mg. I don’t think it’s unreasonable to want proof that a new product is safe if it has been linked to severe health problems in a fairly short time – that is, if the FDA is accepted as a legitimate institution.

  12. Guess why the FDA didn’t do any scientific studies to justify the ban? Because the economic evidence was too overwhelming.

    6 Beers + Red Bull at any liquor store = $15 (or at a Georgetown Bar… $35)
    Four Loko = $3

  13. If Ron Paul was President there would be no wars and Four Loko would still be legal!

  14. RELAX people, there are still plenty of neon colored bum wines out there for you to get your fix – mad dog anyone?

  15. Actually, the FDA has been investigating these drinks for about a year now.

  16. What ever happened to natural selection? Nanny states really fuck up the system.

  17. Caffeine + Alcohol = Dangerous
    Cigarettes = OK

    If only Phusion were as powerful as the tobacco companies.

  18. Pingback: Vox Populi » Comments of the Week: We need more Loko, less thievery

  19. “there is evidence that the combinations of caffeine and alcohol in these products pose a public health concern.” LOL, as if alcohol by itself doesn’t pose a serious concerns for public health and safety. What a crock. If people want to get high, let them do it. Punish only those who commit real crimes that affect society whether they are drunk and spun, or sober.

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