Four Loko Manufacturer Says It Will Remove Caffeine From Its Alcoholic Drinks
Move comes after reports saying regulators would move to ban the drinks
The manufacturer of caffeinated alcoholic beverage Four Loko will remove caffeine and two other ingredients from the drink, the company said in a statement posted on its website Tuesday.
"We are taking this step after trying – unsuccessfully – to navigate a difficult and politically-charged regulatory environment at both the state and federal levels," the co-founders of drink maker Phusion Projects said in the statement. "We have repeatedly contended – and still believe, as do many people throughout the country – that the combination of alcohol and caffeine is safe."
In addition to caffeine, the company said it would remove guarana and taurine from the drink. The move came after reports earlier Tuesday that federal regulators were poised to ban caffeinated alcoholic drinks.
The Food and Drug Administration will rule that caffeine is an unsafe food additive to alcoholic beverages and warn drink manufacturers that they are possibly engaged in illegal marketing efforts, U.S. Sen. Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.) said in a news release. The drinks have already been banned in four states, ABCNews.com reported.
"Let these rulings serve as a warning to anyone who tried to peddle dangerous and toxic brews to our children. Do it and we will shut you down," Schumer said in a statement posted on his website. "This ruling should be the nail in the coffin of these dangerous and toxic drinks. Parents should be able to rest a little easier knowing that soon their children won't have access to this deadly brew."
Locally, state Senators Loretta Weinberg (D-Teaneck) and Teresa Ruiz (D-Newark) have called on New Jersey's colleges and universities to ban the drinks on campus. The senators the made the request after 23 Ramapo College students were hospitalized for alcohol-related illness when some allegedly drank "the stimulant-laced alcoholic beverages," the senators said in a statement. The Mahwah institution has since banned caffeinated alcoholic drinks from campus.
"We cannot emphasize enough the danger these drinks pose to our young people," the senators wrote in a letter sent to school presidents last week. It was unclear how recent developments would impact the proposed legislation.
Fairleigh Dickinson University spokeswoman Dina Schipper said alcohol is already prohibited on the school's Teaneck campus and the caffeinated drinks were banned as a precaution on the Madison campus.
"There have not been any specific incidents with Four Loko on campus," Schipper said.
Sources familiar with the matter told the Wall Street Journal the FDA could make an announcement as early as Wednesday, the newspaper reported.