Feds deem Four Loko unsafe drink
Issue date: 11/19/10 Section: News
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration issued warning letters yesterday to four beverage manufacturers including the maker of Four Loko saying that the drinks are being marketed in violation of federal law.
It determined that caffeine is an "unsafe food additive" when mixed with alcoholic beverages. If a beverage-maker cannot prove that its drink is safe, the FDA can seize the products.
The FDA issued a "prove it" notice to nearly 30 manufacturers in November 2009. "We expect these warning letters to be read across the industry," said Dr. Joshua Sharfstein, a deputy FDA commissioner.
The answer to how much longer the beverages will be available in the Triad and North Carolina could come today. The state's ABC Commission will discuss at its scheduled meeting whether to restrict or ban the drinks in response to Gov. Bev Perdue's request to pull the drinks from shelves as a public-safety concern.
The FDA's decision brought a level of satisfaction to Dr. Mary Claire O'Brien, the lead researcher and a vocal supporter of a Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center study on the beverages.
The study, initially released in November 2007, found that college students who consume energy drinks along with alcohol are more likely to drink more, get hurt, ride with a drunken driver, and commit or suffer sexual assault.
Last month, nine college students at Washington State University were hospitalized after a drinking binge that included alcoholic energy drinks. At least four states - Michigan, Oklahoma, Utah and Washington - have instituted at minimum an emergency ban on the beverages.
Officials from the FDA and other federal agencies cited aspects of the Wake Forest Baptist study in their decision-making process.