Four Loko – Caffeine and Alcohol Beverage Manufacturer

New Jersey Criminal Law Article By Jeffrey Hark, Esq.

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Four Loko – Caffeine and Alcohol Beverage Manufacturer

On Tuesday, November 16, 2010, the maker of Four Loko, a caffeinated liquor and malt beverage, announced the company’s intent to reformulate its products to remove caffeine, guarana and taurine nationwide. From this point onward only non-caffeinated versions of Four Loko will be available. The company’s co-founders released the following statement:

“We have repeatedly contended – and still believe, as do many people throughout the country – that the combination of alcohol and caffeine is safe. If it were unsafe, popular drinks like rum and colas or Irish coffees that have been consumed safely and responsibly for years would face the same scrutiny that our products have recently faced. In addition, if our products were unsafe, we would not have expected the federal agency responsible for approving alcoholic beverage formulas (the Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau) to have approved them. Yet, all of our product formulas and packaging were reviewed and approved by the TTB before being offered to consumers. We are taking this step after trying (unsuccessfully) to navigate a difficult and politically-charged regulatory environment at both the state and federal levels.”

For more information please go to the following link: http://www.phusionprojects.com/media_reformulation.html

Amid speculation that the Food and Drug Administration would be issuing new regulations regarding caffeinated liquor and malt beverages in response to recent deaths involving these types of beverages, the FDA instead issued warning letters on November 17, 2010 to four makers of caffeinated alcoholic beverages. The FDA warned the four companies that the caffeine added to their malt alcoholic beverages is an “unsafe food additive” and said that further action, including seizure of their products, is possible under federal law.

The FDA’s action follows a scientific review by the Agency which commenced in November 2009 when the FDA sent a request to manufacturers to provide information on the safety of adding caffeine to their products. The FDA also performed its own independent laboratory analysis of these products and found no support for the claim that the “addition of caffeine to alcoholic beverages are ‘generally recognized as safe,’ which is the legal standard.” Experts have raised concerns that caffeine can mask some of the sensory cues individuals might normally rely on to determine their level of intoxication. The FDA said peer-reviewed studies suggest that the consumption of beverages containing added caffeine and alcohol is associated with risky behaviors that may lead to hazardous and life-threatening situations.

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Sincerely,
Jeffrey Hark
Hark & Hark