BRONXVILLE, N.Y. (CBS 2) — Teenagers have been sickened and intoxicated after a buying a boozy beverage that looks like an energy drink.
CBS 2’s Tony Aiello reports there has since been a crackdown — a joint investigation in Westchester County, and a warning to parents about the products.
With bright colors and bold graphics it looks like a can of ice tea or fruit punch.
But the potent mix inside ”Four Loko” packs a punch — and drinking it made a 14-year-old Westchester girl sick.
“The parents need to explain to their kids the very dangerous combination of the caffeine with the alcohol,” said Dr. Melissa Weintraub.
Emergency Room doctors at Lawrence Hospital have seen it three times in the last month — teenagers made sick by drinking Four Loko and similar beverages that combine a high alcohol content with caffeine.
To understand just how potent one can of Four Loko is know it has the alcohol of three beers and the caffeine of one cup of coffee, plus a Red Bull.
One of these girls drank two Four Lokos earlier this month. The caffeine buzz delayed her from feeling the effect of the alcohol.
“Before they know it, they’ve consumed the equivalent of six beers which their body’s not accustomed to. All of a sudden the caffeine wears off and they are intoxicated,” Dr. Weintraub said.
Just this week cops sent a teenager undercover to try to buy Four Loko at stores in Bronxville and Tuckahoe.
The Washington Grocery and Deli was busted for selling it illegally to a minor. The clerk said it was a mistake and the store no longer sells the drinks.
“Grocery store owners – anyone who sells this stuff — make sure that it doesn’t get into the hands of minors,” said State Sen. Jeff Klein (D-Bronx/Westchester).
Klein is also pushing a bill to change labeling standards so these alcoholic drinks cannot be packaged to look so much like the non-alcoholic ones kids can purchase legally.
Because of the packaging, police said it’s too easy for a store clerk to mistake a Four Loko for an energy drink, and sell it to a minor.