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article imageAlcopop dubbed ‘blackout in a can’ removed from US stores today

By Andrew John     Dec 13, 2010 in Lifestyle
An alcopop that’s built up a cult following is being removed from US stores in its current form today on the orders of the Food and Drug Administration.
The passing of the popular drink has been mourned with almost religious fervour by its fans. But it will now disappear in its current formulation
Four Loko has as much caffeine as a large coffee and is about three times as alcoholic – at 12% – as average-strength beer.
There were reports that students were becoming dangerously drunk on the product. The alcohol–caffeine mix is, says the BBC, “a combination those who drink it say tastes great and makes you feel good. But others describe it as a ‘blackout in a can’, and blame it for landing a number of students in hospital.”
However, the decision to remove it from store shelves has not been met with approval all round. Recently, a group of New York college students held a vigil to mourn its passing in its present form.
“They sang songs, and held candles as they mourned the passing of a friend,” says the BBC.
The story adds: “Four Loko is one of a range of such drinks on sale in the US, including Joose and Core El Jefe. Last month, the US Food and Drug Administration called on the top four manufacturers to take them out of circulation by 13 December.”
Four Loko will continue to be sold, but without the caffeine.
“The FDA’s action came after some highly publicised scandals, in which the drinks were reported to have caused serious illness, including one at Ramapo College in New Jersey,” the report says.
It quotes James Kulinski, a student, as saying: “My friend had [a] little under three cans in one hour. He didn’t know what he was doing. He was a mess – he had no motor skills and no ability to communicate.”
Ramapo College later banned the alcopop from its campus.
“It has also been banned from the entire state of Washington, after reports of dozens of young people being taken ill – including nine students from Central Washington university who were admitted to hospital in October,” the BBC continues.
It quotes Washington State Attorney General Rob McKenna as saying: “It’s time to bring an end to the sale of alcoholic energy drinks.
‘Combination is safe’
“They’re marketed to kids by using fruit flavours that mask the taste of alcohol and they have such high levels of stimulants that people have no idea how inebriated they really are. They’re packaged just like nonalcoholic drinks, but include a dangerous dose of malt liquor.”
The drink’s makers, Phusion Projects, is disputing claims that Four Loko leads to alcoholic poisoning.
“We have repeatedly contended – and still believe, as do many people throughout the country – that the combination of alcohol and caffeine is safe,” say the drink’s originators, former Ohio State University students Chris Hunter, Jeff Wright and Jaisen Freeman.
“If it were unsafe, popular drinks like rum and colas or Irish coffees that have been consumed safely and responsibly for years would face the same scrutiny that our products have recently faced.”
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