KKTV 11 News | Colorado Springs, Pueblo | 11 For Health

Energy Drinks Spiked with Booze under FDA Scrutiny

Dozens of college students across the country have been hospitalized and the Food and Drug Administration is now speaking out about alcoholic energy drinks. Officials are calling the mix of booze and caffeine a dangerous combination.

Four companies that make these kind of drinks have been contacted by federal officials. The makers of one of these popular drinks, called Four Loko, are already responding.

They have nicknames like liquid cocaine, or blackout in a can. Whatever they can be called, word is, energy drinks spiked with the alcohol equivalent of a bottle of wine are living up to their reputation.
"[I know people who’ve] been at parties and stuff and say ‘this stuff is crazy,’" said UCCS student Tyler Kinsey.

"The main thing I've [heard] is that it's crazy," agreed Ashley Lawrence.

The FDA is concerned enough to issue warnings to the drink-makers to stop production.

"They will need to change the manufacturing of these products in order to be in compliance with the law," said FDA Commissioner Margaret Hamburg.

If not, the government could start pulling the drinks from shelves. The move is drawing some mixed reaction, even among those on college campuses where drinks like Four Loko have earned some popularity.

"If people took them like a beer or a can of soda and went over the edge, died at a party or football game, I think it's good the FDA is looking into it," said Leighton Smith, another UCCS student.

"More government regulation? What's the point?” asked Kinsey. “Because at that point, you can just mix the stuff yourself."

Phusion, the company behind Four Loko already agreed to take caffeine out of their product. Some health experts argue the high amounts of it could mask the drinker's level of impairment.

Despite the reported risks the rush is on to get the drinks before they're gone.

The companies making the alcoholic energy drinks now have 15 days to respond to the FDA, either explaining how they will take the drinks off the market, or defending them as safe.


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