“Blackout in a Can” Banned
Four Loko, also known as “blackout in a can,” has become one of the most controversial alcoholic beverages on the market. As of November 19, 2010, the distribution of the product is no longer legal in the state of New York. The drink has already been banned in four states and on numerous college campuses, and has been blamed for many injuries involving teenagers across the United States and Europe.
The drink is sold in 23.5 ounce containers and contains 12 percent alcohol — the equivalent of four average beers — as well as caffeine, taurine and guarana.
On November 14, Governor David Patterson and the State Liquor Authority announced an agreement with Four Loko’s manufacturer, Phusion Projects, to stop shipping the caffeinated alcoholic beverage in New York State. The drink has already been banned in Michigan, Oklahoma, Utah and Washington. After speculation of a nationwide FDA ban of their product, Phusion Projects announced on November 16 that it would remove caffeine, taurine and guarana from the drink.
In October, Ramapo College in Mahwah, New Jersey hospitalized 17 students and six visitors after they consumed large amounts of Four Loko. Following the incident at Ramapo, the college proceeded to ban the consumption of Four Loko on campus. Around the same time, nine students from Central Washington were also hospitalized for the same reason. Numerous other universities have taken steps to ban the beverage.
Universities around the country have caught on to the danger of alcoholic energy drinks, with many warning their students of the effects of Four Loko. These schools include Northeastern University, Southern Connecticut State University, Sacred Heart University, Central Washington University, Massachusetts Maritime Academy, Duquesne University, Bryant University, Boston University, Bentley University, Villanova University, Brandeis University and SUNY Cortland.
Governor David Paterson stated in the Long Island Press, “New Yorkers deserve to know that the beverages they buy are safe for consumption.”
On November 9, a policeman went undercover in the Bronx and was able to purchase Four Loko at 11 out of 28 stores illegally, without showing a driver’s license. New York Senator Jeffrey Klein has said that it has become too easy for teens to purchase such a dangerous beverage.
The State Liquor Authority has taken measures to get it off the shelves simply because the drink has not yet proven to be safe. “We have an obligation to keep products that are potentially hazardous off the shelves, and there is simply not enough research to show that these products are safe,” said Rosen in the Long Island News. Store owners around the city have also voluntarily taken Four Loko off of their shelves. In addition to their agreement with the New York State Liquor Authority, Phusion Products has agreed to fund programs focusing on alcohol awareness highlighting the dangers of binge drinking in addition to removing ingredients from their product.