WASHINGTON (CBSNewYork/AP) — The manufacturer of popular caffeinated alcohol drink Four Loko said Tuesday it will remove the caffeine from its products, pulling the blend off the market just as the Food and Drug Administration is poised to ban it.

Phusion Projects said in a statement posted on its website that the company will remove caffeine and two other ingredients from its products going forward.

The announcement came as the FDA is expected to find as early as Wednesday that caffeine is an unsafe food additive to alcoholic drinks. That finding essentially would ban Four Loko and other drinks like it.

The FDA ruling “should be the nail in the coffin of these dangerous and toxic drinks,” Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., who has pushed the Obama administration to ban the beverages, said Tuesday.

Federal regulators would not confirm Schumer’s announcement that a ban was imminent, but Four Loko’s statement suggests the company believed it had little choice but to reformulate its drinks.

The statement by the company’s three co-founders said they were removing caffeine from the drinks after unsuccessfully trying to deal with what they called “a difficult and politically-charged regulatory environment at both the state and federal levels.”

“We have repeatedly contended — and still believe, as do many people throughout the country — that the combination of alcohol and caffeine is safe,” said Chris Hunter, Jeff Wright and Jaisen Freeman, who identify themselves as Phusion’s three co-founders and current managing partners.

The statement did not mention several recent incidents in which college students were hospitalized after drinking the beverage. In response to such incidents, four states — Washington, Michigan, Utah and Oklahoma — have banned the beverages. Other states are considering similar action.

Four Loko comes in several varieties, including fruit punch and blue raspberry. A 23.5-ounce can sells for about $2.50 and has an alcohol content of 12 percent, comparable to four beers, according to the company’s website.

While there is little known medical evidence that the drinks are less safe than other alcoholic drinks, public health advocates say the drinks can make people feel more alert and able to handle tasks like driving. A Wake Forest University study found that students who combine caffeine and alcohol are more likely to suffer alcohol-related injuries than those drinking alcohol without caffeine.

Last year the FDA notified more than two dozen manufacturers of caffeinated alcoholic beverages that it never had specifically approved the addition of caffeine to alcoholic drinks and began studying whether it was unsafe and should be outlawed. The agency noted the mix’s growing popularity among college students and its potential health and safety issues.

The FDA said then it had not reached a conclusion about the drinks’ safety but cited concerns from several state attorneys general who contended the drinks appealed to underage drinkers and encouraged reckless behavior.

FDA spokeswoman Siobhan DeLancey would not confirm any upcoming action Tuesday but said the agency recognizes “this very important public health issue” and will announce the results of its review when it is complete. The Federal Trade Commission, which regulates the marketing of the drinks, declined to comment.

(Copyright 2010 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

Comments (27)
  1. otto says:

    “Won’t somebody please think of the children?” Helen Lovejoy

    we need many many more laws like this. protect the child-like citizen who cannot think for him/herself. give up liberties … accept the control. i cannot wait until we finally get our precious prohibition on all tobacco products … smoking is NOT a choice, a right, or a liberty … it is a mental deficiency … the govt will fix that for us. living in a police state may not be fun … but at least it will be safe 🙂

  2. Ron Orf says:

    CHILDREN cannot legally buy alcohol, Sen. Schumer. You can only use the “what about the children” argument so many times before we all roll our eyes.

  3. Joe says:

    Great how many people will this put of of work…. Obama and company sure going out of their way to fix the economy.

    Just Ban everything so everyone will be jobless

    1. Len says:

      What the ……….does this have to do with politics ? This is about an unsafe, dangerous concoction masquerading as a legitimate beverage and causing havoc in he lives of young people. Are you so moronic as to not see the very real danger this frink poses ? Let’s find real political issues to debate.

      1. Pat says:

        Just like whiskey, vodka, and rubbing alcohol cause havoc in the lives of old people. Let us ban everything that is dangerous and fun: guns, cars, sports, saturated fats, one night stands, and las vegas.

  4. Jack says:

    Let’s see … ban this drink and kids will just start taking no-doze folled by a whiskey chaser.

  5. matt says:

    if you really want to cut down on underage drinking, lower the legal age to 15 years old……it’s not rocket science….or legalize weed….and tell americans the truth about all the lies our government has told us about pot….

  6. Aceof Spades says:

    Beer pong. Throw a dirty ball into a cup so someone can drink it. If they ban Four Loko they can just use red bull and any of there other favorite drinks. I’m sure it will taste better. The only reason people buy this drink is because it’s so cheap. Do like they do with Cigarette. Tax the hell out of it and raise the price. Then no one will buy it.

  7. joe says:

    if these drinks contain alcohol . How is a teenager getting it. most states require you to be 21 to buy alcohol. So how did she get it and charge the perron for contributing to a minor. and any other charges if a teen get hurt from it. if they buy it at a store the store should be held accountable. Why is it not regulated by the same people who regulate the alcohol beverages.

  8. steve says:

    Now you kids have to go back to mixing harder booze with red bull. we know whats best for you, we are democrats.

    1. Cory Wilcox says:

      At least somebody recognizes this “concoction” was already here well before Four Loko even existed. (They just saved these kids 7 seconds of time so they dont have to mix it themselves)

      2nd can somebody show me Statistics or Deaths related to the consumtion of Four Loko? Now lets compare that to alcohol related deaths each year (Liver failure & Disease, Alcohol Poisoning, Drunk Driving, Aspiration, ect.)

      So the question remains….. is Four Loko the issue……or Alcohol in general?

    2. Pete James says:

      Creativity man, what ever happened to American Creativity?

  9. JJB says:

    Ridiculous. I’m sure all the additives in food are safe too. Maybe the teenager smashed her car into the tree because she was “extremely intoxicated” and not because it was a caffeinated alcohol drink. I’m sure the teenagers couldn’t have found anything else to play beer pong with…like maybe beer or aome type of wine coolers.

    1. edith says:

      That’s good for the better health…….

    2. Cory Wilcox says:

      Oh no! It was the caffeine! Theres no way it was because she was “extremely Intoxicated” thats just ridiculous. Pffttt…..who ever heard of drunk driving before? not me….

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