After receiving a ton of media attention and politically-geared excitement, the producers of Four Loko, Phusion Products, announced Tuesday they would remove caffeine, guarana and taurine from the malt beverage.
The company intends to reformulate the product nationwide and from now on will only produce non-caffeinated versions of the popular alcoholic drink.
This change comes right as the FDA warned Phusion Products, along with three other companies, that their products were not safe and could be seized off shelves.
Personally, I can see why the FDA issued the warning. But I also understand why Phusion Products shouldn’t necessarily have to alter their product formula. Yes, mixing caffeine with alcohol isn’t very safe because the two products contradict each other. Caffeine is a stimulant and alcohol is a depressant. The whole point of alcohol being a depressant is that it makes you drowsy and your body is more aware of when it has had enough. However, when you add a stimulant like caffeine into the mix, it is harder for the brain to receive those body signals, making someone more likely to continue drinking or do something they wouldn’t normally do.
Clearly, this was the case for the famous incident involving Four Loko at Washington State, when eight college students were rushed to the hospital after drinking the beverage. However, Four Loko can’t be the only factor. What about self-control? I understand the combination of the two products makes you want to drink more, but people should always try to issue self-control.
What about all of the other caffeinated alcohol beverages out there? Classic drinks such as Red Bull and vodka, rum and Coke and Irish coffee combine caffeine with alcohol, yet they have been safely enjoyed by people for years.
Phusion Products also took all of the necessary precautions before putting the drink on the market. Not only is it only legally sold to those 21 and over (yes, I understand it may still get into the hands of underage kids), but Four Loko cans were the first to have the “We ID” tag put directly on the can. The cans also feature seven different warnings about the 12 percent alcohol content, all of which are in a font size as large as the federal government will allow, according to the Phusion Products website.
However, there’s also the factor that underage kids do still get ahold of the drink. Typically, those who are 21 and older know how to drink responsibly, but those who aren’t have a more difficult time — especially college freshmen. When you’re in a new environment and away from your parents, a part of you wants to go crazy. What’s the most popular way for kids to go crazy? Get drunk. But they don’t think about what they’re drinking or how much of it they’re taking in. They just want to have fun! If they were more educated about what they were putting in their body, then maybe Phusion Products wouldn’t have this problem. But how are you supposed to forbid access of the drink to underage kids but allow it for adults when IDs are already in place? Basically, the drink is not safe because of the naiveté of underage teenagers.
So, I understand why Four Loko is being banned. However, I don’t necessarily agree with the movement. What do you think about the controversy?