Loco for Four Loko: Regulating Caffeinated Alcoholic Beverages
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CitationJennifer Yince Kan, Loco for Four Loko: Regulating Caffeinated Alcoholic Beverages (May 2011).
AbstractYoung people across the nation have been going loco for Four Loko, a caffeinated alcoholic beverage (CAB) that some college students have dubbed “blackout in a can.” Just a few months ago, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued warning letters to four CAB manufacturers—including Phusion Projects, the maker of Four Loko—notifying them that the caffeine added to their alcoholic beverages was an “unsafe food additive.” However, for various reasons FDA’s approach to the situation appears questionable.
This paper begins by providing background information on the relevant products and ingredients involved—namely alcoholic beverages, caffeine, energy drinks, and CABs. It also explores the government regulation of these products and ingredients, including the recent events pertaining to CABs in particular. In sum, this paper presents a critique of FDA’s response to the CAB phenomenon and ultimately recommends that FDA set a specified caffeine level limit after obtaining sufficient scientific research.
There is still much more scientific research to be done on the safety of CABs, particularly with respect to what caffeine-alcohol ratio in CABs would be safe for consumers. Until FDA obtains sufficient scientific research and sets a specific caffeine level limit, its inconsistent treatment of products combining caffeine and alcohol will illustrate its evasion of the underlying public health objective. Instead of banning CABs altogether, FDA and TTB should consider adding warnings on CAB labels or simply keep consumers informed about CAB safety through publicly available resources.
Citable link to this pagehttp://nrs.harvard.edu/urn-3:HUL.InstRepos:8822183
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