FDA to Ban Caffeine from Alcoholic Drinks

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The Food and Drug Administration could soon ban caffeinated alcohol drinks like the controversial caffeinated malt beverage Four Loko.
   
After a year of study, the FDA is expected to rule Wednesday it is not safe to mix alcohol and caffeine.

Sen. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., has been pushing the Obama administration for the ban in recent days.

"This (FDA) ruling should be the nail in the coffin of these dangerous and toxic drinks," Schumer said.
        
Killing the Buzz
    
Phusion Projects, the maker of Four Loko, recently announced it is removing caffeine from its alcoholic drinks. The move came in anticipation of the FDA ban.

"We are taking this step after trying -- unsuccessfully -- to navigate a difficult and politically charged regulatory environment at both the state and federal levels," Phusion officials said in a statement on the company's Web site.

Such drinks have led to the hospitalization of college students in Washington, Michigan, Utah and Oklahoma. In response, the four states have already been banned the beverages.

"It gets you drunk quick and it's sweet," high school senior Gustavo Gonzalez said.

Despite having the taste and appearance of a fruity energy drink, the Four Loko can is clearly labeled 12 percent alcohol. What is not clear is how much caffeine it contains.

"One of those big cans to a little person can be very dangerously intoxicating," explained Dr. Kurt Kleinschmidt, the chief of toxicology for UT Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas.

"And if that little person happens to go, 'Wow - Let's have a two-can day. I need a lot of energy.' Now, we are potentially moving into very dangerous and possibly even life threatening levels," he added.

'Blackout in a Can'

So potent are the alcoholic energy drinks, they're sometimes referred to as "blackout in a can."

Even at 6' 3", Gonzalez said one 23.5 ounce container of Four Loko made him feel drunk and sick.
 
"You ever drink alcohol before? Like liquor? It feels like you took two or three shots," he said.
    
In Nevada, an "extremely intoxicated" teenager smashed her SUV into a tree one Sunday morning. The teen told police she was playing a drinking game with the controversial caffeinated alcoholic beverage.

"I think most parents are probably not aware of this fruit-flavored energy drink that has caffeine -- which most folks will go 'Oh...not a big deal!'  Dr. Kleinschmidt said.

"And, they may not have heard the part how much alcohol is in it," he added."So, the parents and the kids both can walk into this blinded path and can have very bad consequences."

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