New: The Battle Over 'Caffeinated Booze' Continues

By: Rick Montanez/AP Email
By: Rick Montanez/AP Email

It's being called caffeinated booze, Four Loko is serving up a lot of controversy after the popular drink sent several college students to the hospital. Even the Food and Drug Administration is reviewing it's safety.

Each Four Loko can is 23.5 ounces, it’s a potent mixture of energy supplements and 12 percent alcohol content. Drinking one can is like drinking about four beers, a couple of small cups of coffee and a Red Bull, 11 News first reported Monday.

On Tuesday, KKTV 11 News was contacted by a spokesperson claiming to represent the makers of Four Loko, Phusion Projects, LLC, of Chicago. The spokesperson asked 11 News to clarify our comparison of its product. Phusion said comparing Four Loko to beer is not accurate because alcohol content in beer tends to vary. Instead, the company representative said, drinking one 23.5 ounce can of Four Loko is the same as drinking 23.5 ounces of wine. According to Wine Spectator, a bottle of wine is 25 ounces.

The representative also disclosed the caffeine content of Four Loko. We're told it's about 150-160mg in each can. That's the rough equivalent of two 8.4 ounce cans of Red Bull at 80mg per can.

"I think people drink it thinking it's a lighter drink because it's really fruity," Megan Meyer said.

Four Loko comes in 10 different fruity flavors. Some are even calling it ‘blackout in a can.’

"It does sound like it's something that i wouldn't want my kids drinking," said Cyd Cohn. She’s the mother of two college aged sons. And, she says, this drink makes her worry. "It doesn't sound like a healthy thing to do."

After a recent college party in Central Washington nine students were sent to the hospital. Some of them had a potentially deadly blood alcohol level. In New Jersey, several other students went to the hospital after drinking Four Loko. "Its dangerous, students who consume it become intoxicated very quickly," said Peter Mercer, Ramapo College President.

Ramapo College, in New Jersey, just banned the drink from campus after a party.

"You can ban it all you want, but somehow it's going to get in someones hands," Chico Uribna said.

The drink only sells for $2.50 each. "That's dangerous in itself, cause it's cheaper than a lot of other things that have way less alcohol in them," Meyer said.

Health advocates report the caffeine in the drink can also slow the effects of alcohol consumption, allowing a person to drink more than usual.

The FDA is looking into the safety of these drinks. Its investigation could take several months to complete.

Several southern Colorado liquor stores told 11 News the drink is in high demand.

The following is a portion of a news release sent out by the Four Loko representative.

"No one is more upset than we are when our products are abused or consumed unlawfully by underage drinkers, which appears to have been the case at Central Washington. However, we also know that curbing alcohol abuse on college campuses will not be accomplished by singling out a lone product or beverage category. The only answer lies with increased education and awareness by all involved and with respecting the law.

This is why we intend to not only continue our current responsible drinking efforts, but to build on them as well. We want to be part of the solution to this age-old problem, and we see addressing this issue as both a fundamental priority and an ultimate responsibility we share with the entire alcoholic beverage industry."


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