On Monday, the makers of Four Loko (Phusion Projects, LLC) announced that they would be removing the caffeine from their products sold in New York State, ahead of a ban set to go into effect in the coming weeks. Yesterday, the FDA announced that it would likely be handing down an opinion on the safety of all such "energy beers" as early as today and Phusion Projects put out another release, saying that they were now going to be removing the caffeine, taurine and guarana from all their products--not just the ones distributed in New York.
Now you see it...
And then today, with the Washington State ban on Four Loko and other caffeinated energy drinks going into full effect tomorrow and several other states either considering or waiting on bans, the FDA delivered on its promise, going public with its long-awaited opinion on the matter of mixing booze and stimulants.
Unsurprisingly, they weren't very kind to the manufacturers of caffeinated energy drinks. And while the FDA isn't capable of banning any specific outright, they did say that Four Loko and their jittery ilk represent a "public health concern," and so would not be allowed to stay on the market in their current formulations.According to CNN, the most important part of the FDA's report was essentially a threat: "The move follows a year-long review by the FDA, which gave the companies 15 days to either reformulate their products or face possible seizure under federal law, said Dr. Joshua Sharfstein, the agency's principal deputy commissioner. Experts have said the caffeine used in the beverages can mask the effects of alcohol, leaving drinkers unaware of how intoxicated they are."
Of course, removing the caffeine, the taurine, the guarana, the magical elf powder, the pixie dust and whatever else these manufacturers put into their drinks to keep consumers wired enough to keep drinking it just means that companies like Phusion Projects, United Brands (which makes Joose and Max), Portland's Charge Beverages Corp (home of the Core products) and New Century Brewing (which makes something called Moonshot) will, essentially, be selling nothing more than big cans of flavored malt liquor--the drinking of which has never gotten anyone into any trouble before, right?