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Are Homemade Energy Drinks Dangerous? FDA Warns of Risks of Powdered Caffeine

Are Homemade Energy Drinks Dangerous? FDA Warns of Risks of Powdered Caffeine


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The FDA says that your homebrewed Red Bull could prove to be deadly.

If you’re someone who prefers the jolt of an energy drink over the wakeup call of a morning cup of coffee, you may want to pay attention. The FDA has recently sent out warning letters to five producers of powdered caffeine, claiming that the product, when mixed with beverages, is “potentially dangerous” and presents a “significant or unreasonable risk of illness or injury.”

Powdered caffeine is usually sold for people to mix into water or sports drinks to make their own homemade energy drinks. However, according to the FDA, just one teaspoon of pure powdered caffeine is equal to 28 cups of coffee, and a tablespoon could result in death.

“People assume something this dangerous would not be sold to consumers in this form,” Laura MacCleery, the center’s regulatory affairs director, told The New York Times. “They are used to seeing warning labels and childproof caps on aspirin. And this is just a zip-lock bag.”

“It is unclear why your product label provides the information that one-quarter teaspoon of your product is 574 milligrams, since this amount is well in excess of the serving size that your label recommends," the FDA wrote in a letter to the caffeine powder company SmartPowders.

The warnings were prompted by the deaths of two teenagers earlier this year, both of whom died after consuming too much powdered caffeine.


Homemade alcoholic energy drinks will survive FDA ban

It took them a year, and before they were done, dozens of students at three college campuses had fallen seriously ill from the toxic combination of caffeine and alcohol, the mixture was being implicated in at least two deaths, and four states instituted a full-out ban of the popular brew.

But when the U.S. Food and Drug Administration finally acted on Wednesday, it did so with a splash, essentially banning a new craze among the teen and college binge-drinking set and warning four manufacturers that their alcoholic energy drinks were illegal. Providing firepower of their own, both the Treasury Department and the Federal Trade Commission backed up the FDA, warning the same companies that marketing and shipping such products could be subject to legal action, according to a Washington Post account.

As far as government action goes, that's as definitive as it gets, and it should at least put an overdue end to gratuitous manufacturers making a mint off a product that is not just dangerous in and of itself, but that promotes the kind of binge drinking that is already all too prevalent among their young target audience.

But will it stop young partiers from mixing high-powered energy drinks like Red Bull with potent alcohols like vodka? I'm afraid that horse is already out of the barn. And in fact, some drinkers, taking a cue from a trend that started in European bars, were already mixing their own alcoholic energy drinks when fashionable labels like Four Loko, Joose and Max hit the scene. These products only made the craze more accessible and, well, more of a craze — and more of a legitimate target of government action.

And by many accounts, the professionally mixed ingredients — amounting to as much as three or four cups of coffee and three full beers in a single 23.5-ounce can, affordably priced at around $2.75 and seductively packaged in neon colors — made for a more powerful punch than any self-mixed formulas.

Four Loko, known affectionately among its loyal customers as "blackout in a can" and the most notorious of the brands for the high-profile rash of illnesses, drunkenness and death linked to its product, tried to get ahead of the FDA ban by preempting it with its own announcement that it is removing the caffeine, guarana and taurine from its controversial formula.

"By taking this action today, we are again demonstrating leadership, cooperation and responsible corporate citizenship," officials with Phusion Projects, the makers of Four Loko, said in a statement. But they also added this nonsensical whine:

"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."

How's that for delusional rationalization?

These drinks can hardly be compared to a simple rum and Coke. And in case you wondered why it's such a knock-out, or why someone like Utah Attorney General Mark Shurtleff — one of 18 attorneys general who called for FDA action on alcoholic energy drinks — calls them "killer drinks," here's a clue:

Producing what FDA officials describe as a "wide-awake drunk," the high levels of caffeine mask the effects of the alcohol, so the partier doesn't know how truly intoxicated they are, until a few cans later, when a number of drinkers have suffered alcohol poisoning or engaged in risky behavior that led to car accidents or assaults. Both caffeine and alcohol also are diuretics and promote dehydration, impairing the body's ability to metabolize the alcohol and thereby increasing its toxicity.

It's a sour mixture, and I'm celebrating the government's aggressive crackdown. It will surely kill some of the buzz around these dangerous drinks.

But let's not kid ourselves, either. Many of the young drinkers who flocked to the beverage aisle for their fill of these "loko" beverages will not be deterred by their removal from store shelves. The Internet is a powerful resource, and there are plenty of websites that offer easy-to-follow recipes for the motivated consumer to mimic these brews, and the easy high they produced, with widely distributed ingredients still on the market.

And there will be no one to stop them. Because mixing alcohol with energy drinks is still legal, even if marketing and selling such a concoction no longer is.


Homemade alcoholic energy drinks will survive FDA ban

It took them a year, and before they were done, dozens of students at three college campuses had fallen seriously ill from the toxic combination of caffeine and alcohol, the mixture was being implicated in at least two deaths, and four states instituted a full-out ban of the popular brew.

But when the U.S. Food and Drug Administration finally acted on Wednesday, it did so with a splash, essentially banning a new craze among the teen and college binge-drinking set and warning four manufacturers that their alcoholic energy drinks were illegal. Providing firepower of their own, both the Treasury Department and the Federal Trade Commission backed up the FDA, warning the same companies that marketing and shipping such products could be subject to legal action, according to a Washington Post account.

As far as government action goes, that's as definitive as it gets, and it should at least put an overdue end to gratuitous manufacturers making a mint off a product that is not just dangerous in and of itself, but that promotes the kind of binge drinking that is already all too prevalent among their young target audience.

But will it stop young partiers from mixing high-powered energy drinks like Red Bull with potent alcohols like vodka? I'm afraid that horse is already out of the barn. And in fact, some drinkers, taking a cue from a trend that started in European bars, were already mixing their own alcoholic energy drinks when fashionable labels like Four Loko, Joose and Max hit the scene. These products only made the craze more accessible and, well, more of a craze — and more of a legitimate target of government action.

And by many accounts, the professionally mixed ingredients — amounting to as much as three or four cups of coffee and three full beers in a single 23.5-ounce can, affordably priced at around $2.75 and seductively packaged in neon colors — made for a more powerful punch than any self-mixed formulas.

Four Loko, known affectionately among its loyal customers as "blackout in a can" and the most notorious of the brands for the high-profile rash of illnesses, drunkenness and death linked to its product, tried to get ahead of the FDA ban by preempting it with its own announcement that it is removing the caffeine, guarana and taurine from its controversial formula.

"By taking this action today, we are again demonstrating leadership, cooperation and responsible corporate citizenship," officials with Phusion Projects, the makers of Four Loko, said in a statement. But they also added this nonsensical whine:

"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."

How's that for delusional rationalization?

These drinks can hardly be compared to a simple rum and Coke. And in case you wondered why it's such a knock-out, or why someone like Utah Attorney General Mark Shurtleff — one of 18 attorneys general who called for FDA action on alcoholic energy drinks — calls them "killer drinks," here's a clue:

Producing what FDA officials describe as a "wide-awake drunk," the high levels of caffeine mask the effects of the alcohol, so the partier doesn't know how truly intoxicated they are, until a few cans later, when a number of drinkers have suffered alcohol poisoning or engaged in risky behavior that led to car accidents or assaults. Both caffeine and alcohol also are diuretics and promote dehydration, impairing the body's ability to metabolize the alcohol and thereby increasing its toxicity.

It's a sour mixture, and I'm celebrating the government's aggressive crackdown. It will surely kill some of the buzz around these dangerous drinks.

But let's not kid ourselves, either. Many of the young drinkers who flocked to the beverage aisle for their fill of these "loko" beverages will not be deterred by their removal from store shelves. The Internet is a powerful resource, and there are plenty of websites that offer easy-to-follow recipes for the motivated consumer to mimic these brews, and the easy high they produced, with widely distributed ingredients still on the market.

And there will be no one to stop them. Because mixing alcohol with energy drinks is still legal, even if marketing and selling such a concoction no longer is.


Homemade alcoholic energy drinks will survive FDA ban

It took them a year, and before they were done, dozens of students at three college campuses had fallen seriously ill from the toxic combination of caffeine and alcohol, the mixture was being implicated in at least two deaths, and four states instituted a full-out ban of the popular brew.

But when the U.S. Food and Drug Administration finally acted on Wednesday, it did so with a splash, essentially banning a new craze among the teen and college binge-drinking set and warning four manufacturers that their alcoholic energy drinks were illegal. Providing firepower of their own, both the Treasury Department and the Federal Trade Commission backed up the FDA, warning the same companies that marketing and shipping such products could be subject to legal action, according to a Washington Post account.

As far as government action goes, that's as definitive as it gets, and it should at least put an overdue end to gratuitous manufacturers making a mint off a product that is not just dangerous in and of itself, but that promotes the kind of binge drinking that is already all too prevalent among their young target audience.

But will it stop young partiers from mixing high-powered energy drinks like Red Bull with potent alcohols like vodka? I'm afraid that horse is already out of the barn. And in fact, some drinkers, taking a cue from a trend that started in European bars, were already mixing their own alcoholic energy drinks when fashionable labels like Four Loko, Joose and Max hit the scene. These products only made the craze more accessible and, well, more of a craze — and more of a legitimate target of government action.

And by many accounts, the professionally mixed ingredients — amounting to as much as three or four cups of coffee and three full beers in a single 23.5-ounce can, affordably priced at around $2.75 and seductively packaged in neon colors — made for a more powerful punch than any self-mixed formulas.

Four Loko, known affectionately among its loyal customers as "blackout in a can" and the most notorious of the brands for the high-profile rash of illnesses, drunkenness and death linked to its product, tried to get ahead of the FDA ban by preempting it with its own announcement that it is removing the caffeine, guarana and taurine from its controversial formula.

"By taking this action today, we are again demonstrating leadership, cooperation and responsible corporate citizenship," officials with Phusion Projects, the makers of Four Loko, said in a statement. But they also added this nonsensical whine:

"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."

How's that for delusional rationalization?

These drinks can hardly be compared to a simple rum and Coke. And in case you wondered why it's such a knock-out, or why someone like Utah Attorney General Mark Shurtleff — one of 18 attorneys general who called for FDA action on alcoholic energy drinks — calls them "killer drinks," here's a clue:

Producing what FDA officials describe as a "wide-awake drunk," the high levels of caffeine mask the effects of the alcohol, so the partier doesn't know how truly intoxicated they are, until a few cans later, when a number of drinkers have suffered alcohol poisoning or engaged in risky behavior that led to car accidents or assaults. Both caffeine and alcohol also are diuretics and promote dehydration, impairing the body's ability to metabolize the alcohol and thereby increasing its toxicity.

It's a sour mixture, and I'm celebrating the government's aggressive crackdown. It will surely kill some of the buzz around these dangerous drinks.

But let's not kid ourselves, either. Many of the young drinkers who flocked to the beverage aisle for their fill of these "loko" beverages will not be deterred by their removal from store shelves. The Internet is a powerful resource, and there are plenty of websites that offer easy-to-follow recipes for the motivated consumer to mimic these brews, and the easy high they produced, with widely distributed ingredients still on the market.

And there will be no one to stop them. Because mixing alcohol with energy drinks is still legal, even if marketing and selling such a concoction no longer is.


Homemade alcoholic energy drinks will survive FDA ban

It took them a year, and before they were done, dozens of students at three college campuses had fallen seriously ill from the toxic combination of caffeine and alcohol, the mixture was being implicated in at least two deaths, and four states instituted a full-out ban of the popular brew.

But when the U.S. Food and Drug Administration finally acted on Wednesday, it did so with a splash, essentially banning a new craze among the teen and college binge-drinking set and warning four manufacturers that their alcoholic energy drinks were illegal. Providing firepower of their own, both the Treasury Department and the Federal Trade Commission backed up the FDA, warning the same companies that marketing and shipping such products could be subject to legal action, according to a Washington Post account.

As far as government action goes, that's as definitive as it gets, and it should at least put an overdue end to gratuitous manufacturers making a mint off a product that is not just dangerous in and of itself, but that promotes the kind of binge drinking that is already all too prevalent among their young target audience.

But will it stop young partiers from mixing high-powered energy drinks like Red Bull with potent alcohols like vodka? I'm afraid that horse is already out of the barn. And in fact, some drinkers, taking a cue from a trend that started in European bars, were already mixing their own alcoholic energy drinks when fashionable labels like Four Loko, Joose and Max hit the scene. These products only made the craze more accessible and, well, more of a craze — and more of a legitimate target of government action.

And by many accounts, the professionally mixed ingredients — amounting to as much as three or four cups of coffee and three full beers in a single 23.5-ounce can, affordably priced at around $2.75 and seductively packaged in neon colors — made for a more powerful punch than any self-mixed formulas.

Four Loko, known affectionately among its loyal customers as "blackout in a can" and the most notorious of the brands for the high-profile rash of illnesses, drunkenness and death linked to its product, tried to get ahead of the FDA ban by preempting it with its own announcement that it is removing the caffeine, guarana and taurine from its controversial formula.

"By taking this action today, we are again demonstrating leadership, cooperation and responsible corporate citizenship," officials with Phusion Projects, the makers of Four Loko, said in a statement. But they also added this nonsensical whine:

"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."

How's that for delusional rationalization?

These drinks can hardly be compared to a simple rum and Coke. And in case you wondered why it's such a knock-out, or why someone like Utah Attorney General Mark Shurtleff — one of 18 attorneys general who called for FDA action on alcoholic energy drinks — calls them "killer drinks," here's a clue:

Producing what FDA officials describe as a "wide-awake drunk," the high levels of caffeine mask the effects of the alcohol, so the partier doesn't know how truly intoxicated they are, until a few cans later, when a number of drinkers have suffered alcohol poisoning or engaged in risky behavior that led to car accidents or assaults. Both caffeine and alcohol also are diuretics and promote dehydration, impairing the body's ability to metabolize the alcohol and thereby increasing its toxicity.

It's a sour mixture, and I'm celebrating the government's aggressive crackdown. It will surely kill some of the buzz around these dangerous drinks.

But let's not kid ourselves, either. Many of the young drinkers who flocked to the beverage aisle for their fill of these "loko" beverages will not be deterred by their removal from store shelves. The Internet is a powerful resource, and there are plenty of websites that offer easy-to-follow recipes for the motivated consumer to mimic these brews, and the easy high they produced, with widely distributed ingredients still on the market.

And there will be no one to stop them. Because mixing alcohol with energy drinks is still legal, even if marketing and selling such a concoction no longer is.


Homemade alcoholic energy drinks will survive FDA ban

It took them a year, and before they were done, dozens of students at three college campuses had fallen seriously ill from the toxic combination of caffeine and alcohol, the mixture was being implicated in at least two deaths, and four states instituted a full-out ban of the popular brew.

But when the U.S. Food and Drug Administration finally acted on Wednesday, it did so with a splash, essentially banning a new craze among the teen and college binge-drinking set and warning four manufacturers that their alcoholic energy drinks were illegal. Providing firepower of their own, both the Treasury Department and the Federal Trade Commission backed up the FDA, warning the same companies that marketing and shipping such products could be subject to legal action, according to a Washington Post account.

As far as government action goes, that's as definitive as it gets, and it should at least put an overdue end to gratuitous manufacturers making a mint off a product that is not just dangerous in and of itself, but that promotes the kind of binge drinking that is already all too prevalent among their young target audience.

But will it stop young partiers from mixing high-powered energy drinks like Red Bull with potent alcohols like vodka? I'm afraid that horse is already out of the barn. And in fact, some drinkers, taking a cue from a trend that started in European bars, were already mixing their own alcoholic energy drinks when fashionable labels like Four Loko, Joose and Max hit the scene. These products only made the craze more accessible and, well, more of a craze — and more of a legitimate target of government action.

And by many accounts, the professionally mixed ingredients — amounting to as much as three or four cups of coffee and three full beers in a single 23.5-ounce can, affordably priced at around $2.75 and seductively packaged in neon colors — made for a more powerful punch than any self-mixed formulas.

Four Loko, known affectionately among its loyal customers as "blackout in a can" and the most notorious of the brands for the high-profile rash of illnesses, drunkenness and death linked to its product, tried to get ahead of the FDA ban by preempting it with its own announcement that it is removing the caffeine, guarana and taurine from its controversial formula.

"By taking this action today, we are again demonstrating leadership, cooperation and responsible corporate citizenship," officials with Phusion Projects, the makers of Four Loko, said in a statement. But they also added this nonsensical whine:

"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."

How's that for delusional rationalization?

These drinks can hardly be compared to a simple rum and Coke. And in case you wondered why it's such a knock-out, or why someone like Utah Attorney General Mark Shurtleff — one of 18 attorneys general who called for FDA action on alcoholic energy drinks — calls them "killer drinks," here's a clue:

Producing what FDA officials describe as a "wide-awake drunk," the high levels of caffeine mask the effects of the alcohol, so the partier doesn't know how truly intoxicated they are, until a few cans later, when a number of drinkers have suffered alcohol poisoning or engaged in risky behavior that led to car accidents or assaults. Both caffeine and alcohol also are diuretics and promote dehydration, impairing the body's ability to metabolize the alcohol and thereby increasing its toxicity.

It's a sour mixture, and I'm celebrating the government's aggressive crackdown. It will surely kill some of the buzz around these dangerous drinks.

But let's not kid ourselves, either. Many of the young drinkers who flocked to the beverage aisle for their fill of these "loko" beverages will not be deterred by their removal from store shelves. The Internet is a powerful resource, and there are plenty of websites that offer easy-to-follow recipes for the motivated consumer to mimic these brews, and the easy high they produced, with widely distributed ingredients still on the market.

And there will be no one to stop them. Because mixing alcohol with energy drinks is still legal, even if marketing and selling such a concoction no longer is.


Homemade alcoholic energy drinks will survive FDA ban

It took them a year, and before they were done, dozens of students at three college campuses had fallen seriously ill from the toxic combination of caffeine and alcohol, the mixture was being implicated in at least two deaths, and four states instituted a full-out ban of the popular brew.

But when the U.S. Food and Drug Administration finally acted on Wednesday, it did so with a splash, essentially banning a new craze among the teen and college binge-drinking set and warning four manufacturers that their alcoholic energy drinks were illegal. Providing firepower of their own, both the Treasury Department and the Federal Trade Commission backed up the FDA, warning the same companies that marketing and shipping such products could be subject to legal action, according to a Washington Post account.

As far as government action goes, that's as definitive as it gets, and it should at least put an overdue end to gratuitous manufacturers making a mint off a product that is not just dangerous in and of itself, but that promotes the kind of binge drinking that is already all too prevalent among their young target audience.

But will it stop young partiers from mixing high-powered energy drinks like Red Bull with potent alcohols like vodka? I'm afraid that horse is already out of the barn. And in fact, some drinkers, taking a cue from a trend that started in European bars, were already mixing their own alcoholic energy drinks when fashionable labels like Four Loko, Joose and Max hit the scene. These products only made the craze more accessible and, well, more of a craze — and more of a legitimate target of government action.

And by many accounts, the professionally mixed ingredients — amounting to as much as three or four cups of coffee and three full beers in a single 23.5-ounce can, affordably priced at around $2.75 and seductively packaged in neon colors — made for a more powerful punch than any self-mixed formulas.

Four Loko, known affectionately among its loyal customers as "blackout in a can" and the most notorious of the brands for the high-profile rash of illnesses, drunkenness and death linked to its product, tried to get ahead of the FDA ban by preempting it with its own announcement that it is removing the caffeine, guarana and taurine from its controversial formula.

"By taking this action today, we are again demonstrating leadership, cooperation and responsible corporate citizenship," officials with Phusion Projects, the makers of Four Loko, said in a statement. But they also added this nonsensical whine:

"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."

How's that for delusional rationalization?

These drinks can hardly be compared to a simple rum and Coke. And in case you wondered why it's such a knock-out, or why someone like Utah Attorney General Mark Shurtleff — one of 18 attorneys general who called for FDA action on alcoholic energy drinks — calls them "killer drinks," here's a clue:

Producing what FDA officials describe as a "wide-awake drunk," the high levels of caffeine mask the effects of the alcohol, so the partier doesn't know how truly intoxicated they are, until a few cans later, when a number of drinkers have suffered alcohol poisoning or engaged in risky behavior that led to car accidents or assaults. Both caffeine and alcohol also are diuretics and promote dehydration, impairing the body's ability to metabolize the alcohol and thereby increasing its toxicity.

It's a sour mixture, and I'm celebrating the government's aggressive crackdown. It will surely kill some of the buzz around these dangerous drinks.

But let's not kid ourselves, either. Many of the young drinkers who flocked to the beverage aisle for their fill of these "loko" beverages will not be deterred by their removal from store shelves. The Internet is a powerful resource, and there are plenty of websites that offer easy-to-follow recipes for the motivated consumer to mimic these brews, and the easy high they produced, with widely distributed ingredients still on the market.

And there will be no one to stop them. Because mixing alcohol with energy drinks is still legal, even if marketing and selling such a concoction no longer is.


Homemade alcoholic energy drinks will survive FDA ban

It took them a year, and before they were done, dozens of students at three college campuses had fallen seriously ill from the toxic combination of caffeine and alcohol, the mixture was being implicated in at least two deaths, and four states instituted a full-out ban of the popular brew.

But when the U.S. Food and Drug Administration finally acted on Wednesday, it did so with a splash, essentially banning a new craze among the teen and college binge-drinking set and warning four manufacturers that their alcoholic energy drinks were illegal. Providing firepower of their own, both the Treasury Department and the Federal Trade Commission backed up the FDA, warning the same companies that marketing and shipping such products could be subject to legal action, according to a Washington Post account.

As far as government action goes, that's as definitive as it gets, and it should at least put an overdue end to gratuitous manufacturers making a mint off a product that is not just dangerous in and of itself, but that promotes the kind of binge drinking that is already all too prevalent among their young target audience.

But will it stop young partiers from mixing high-powered energy drinks like Red Bull with potent alcohols like vodka? I'm afraid that horse is already out of the barn. And in fact, some drinkers, taking a cue from a trend that started in European bars, were already mixing their own alcoholic energy drinks when fashionable labels like Four Loko, Joose and Max hit the scene. These products only made the craze more accessible and, well, more of a craze — and more of a legitimate target of government action.

And by many accounts, the professionally mixed ingredients — amounting to as much as three or four cups of coffee and three full beers in a single 23.5-ounce can, affordably priced at around $2.75 and seductively packaged in neon colors — made for a more powerful punch than any self-mixed formulas.

Four Loko, known affectionately among its loyal customers as "blackout in a can" and the most notorious of the brands for the high-profile rash of illnesses, drunkenness and death linked to its product, tried to get ahead of the FDA ban by preempting it with its own announcement that it is removing the caffeine, guarana and taurine from its controversial formula.

"By taking this action today, we are again demonstrating leadership, cooperation and responsible corporate citizenship," officials with Phusion Projects, the makers of Four Loko, said in a statement. But they also added this nonsensical whine:

"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."

How's that for delusional rationalization?

These drinks can hardly be compared to a simple rum and Coke. And in case you wondered why it's such a knock-out, or why someone like Utah Attorney General Mark Shurtleff — one of 18 attorneys general who called for FDA action on alcoholic energy drinks — calls them "killer drinks," here's a clue:

Producing what FDA officials describe as a "wide-awake drunk," the high levels of caffeine mask the effects of the alcohol, so the partier doesn't know how truly intoxicated they are, until a few cans later, when a number of drinkers have suffered alcohol poisoning or engaged in risky behavior that led to car accidents or assaults. Both caffeine and alcohol also are diuretics and promote dehydration, impairing the body's ability to metabolize the alcohol and thereby increasing its toxicity.

It's a sour mixture, and I'm celebrating the government's aggressive crackdown. It will surely kill some of the buzz around these dangerous drinks.

But let's not kid ourselves, either. Many of the young drinkers who flocked to the beverage aisle for their fill of these "loko" beverages will not be deterred by their removal from store shelves. The Internet is a powerful resource, and there are plenty of websites that offer easy-to-follow recipes for the motivated consumer to mimic these brews, and the easy high they produced, with widely distributed ingredients still on the market.

And there will be no one to stop them. Because mixing alcohol with energy drinks is still legal, even if marketing and selling such a concoction no longer is.


Homemade alcoholic energy drinks will survive FDA ban

It took them a year, and before they were done, dozens of students at three college campuses had fallen seriously ill from the toxic combination of caffeine and alcohol, the mixture was being implicated in at least two deaths, and four states instituted a full-out ban of the popular brew.

But when the U.S. Food and Drug Administration finally acted on Wednesday, it did so with a splash, essentially banning a new craze among the teen and college binge-drinking set and warning four manufacturers that their alcoholic energy drinks were illegal. Providing firepower of their own, both the Treasury Department and the Federal Trade Commission backed up the FDA, warning the same companies that marketing and shipping such products could be subject to legal action, according to a Washington Post account.

As far as government action goes, that's as definitive as it gets, and it should at least put an overdue end to gratuitous manufacturers making a mint off a product that is not just dangerous in and of itself, but that promotes the kind of binge drinking that is already all too prevalent among their young target audience.

But will it stop young partiers from mixing high-powered energy drinks like Red Bull with potent alcohols like vodka? I'm afraid that horse is already out of the barn. And in fact, some drinkers, taking a cue from a trend that started in European bars, were already mixing their own alcoholic energy drinks when fashionable labels like Four Loko, Joose and Max hit the scene. These products only made the craze more accessible and, well, more of a craze — and more of a legitimate target of government action.

And by many accounts, the professionally mixed ingredients — amounting to as much as three or four cups of coffee and three full beers in a single 23.5-ounce can, affordably priced at around $2.75 and seductively packaged in neon colors — made for a more powerful punch than any self-mixed formulas.

Four Loko, known affectionately among its loyal customers as "blackout in a can" and the most notorious of the brands for the high-profile rash of illnesses, drunkenness and death linked to its product, tried to get ahead of the FDA ban by preempting it with its own announcement that it is removing the caffeine, guarana and taurine from its controversial formula.

"By taking this action today, we are again demonstrating leadership, cooperation and responsible corporate citizenship," officials with Phusion Projects, the makers of Four Loko, said in a statement. But they also added this nonsensical whine:

"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."

How's that for delusional rationalization?

These drinks can hardly be compared to a simple rum and Coke. And in case you wondered why it's such a knock-out, or why someone like Utah Attorney General Mark Shurtleff — one of 18 attorneys general who called for FDA action on alcoholic energy drinks — calls them "killer drinks," here's a clue:

Producing what FDA officials describe as a "wide-awake drunk," the high levels of caffeine mask the effects of the alcohol, so the partier doesn't know how truly intoxicated they are, until a few cans later, when a number of drinkers have suffered alcohol poisoning or engaged in risky behavior that led to car accidents or assaults. Both caffeine and alcohol also are diuretics and promote dehydration, impairing the body's ability to metabolize the alcohol and thereby increasing its toxicity.

It's a sour mixture, and I'm celebrating the government's aggressive crackdown. It will surely kill some of the buzz around these dangerous drinks.

But let's not kid ourselves, either. Many of the young drinkers who flocked to the beverage aisle for their fill of these "loko" beverages will not be deterred by their removal from store shelves. The Internet is a powerful resource, and there are plenty of websites that offer easy-to-follow recipes for the motivated consumer to mimic these brews, and the easy high they produced, with widely distributed ingredients still on the market.

And there will be no one to stop them. Because mixing alcohol with energy drinks is still legal, even if marketing and selling such a concoction no longer is.


Homemade alcoholic energy drinks will survive FDA ban

It took them a year, and before they were done, dozens of students at three college campuses had fallen seriously ill from the toxic combination of caffeine and alcohol, the mixture was being implicated in at least two deaths, and four states instituted a full-out ban of the popular brew.

But when the U.S. Food and Drug Administration finally acted on Wednesday, it did so with a splash, essentially banning a new craze among the teen and college binge-drinking set and warning four manufacturers that their alcoholic energy drinks were illegal. Providing firepower of their own, both the Treasury Department and the Federal Trade Commission backed up the FDA, warning the same companies that marketing and shipping such products could be subject to legal action, according to a Washington Post account.

As far as government action goes, that's as definitive as it gets, and it should at least put an overdue end to gratuitous manufacturers making a mint off a product that is not just dangerous in and of itself, but that promotes the kind of binge drinking that is already all too prevalent among their young target audience.

But will it stop young partiers from mixing high-powered energy drinks like Red Bull with potent alcohols like vodka? I'm afraid that horse is already out of the barn. And in fact, some drinkers, taking a cue from a trend that started in European bars, were already mixing their own alcoholic energy drinks when fashionable labels like Four Loko, Joose and Max hit the scene. These products only made the craze more accessible and, well, more of a craze — and more of a legitimate target of government action.

And by many accounts, the professionally mixed ingredients — amounting to as much as three or four cups of coffee and three full beers in a single 23.5-ounce can, affordably priced at around $2.75 and seductively packaged in neon colors — made for a more powerful punch than any self-mixed formulas.

Four Loko, known affectionately among its loyal customers as "blackout in a can" and the most notorious of the brands for the high-profile rash of illnesses, drunkenness and death linked to its product, tried to get ahead of the FDA ban by preempting it with its own announcement that it is removing the caffeine, guarana and taurine from its controversial formula.

"By taking this action today, we are again demonstrating leadership, cooperation and responsible corporate citizenship," officials with Phusion Projects, the makers of Four Loko, said in a statement. But they also added this nonsensical whine:

"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."

How's that for delusional rationalization?

These drinks can hardly be compared to a simple rum and Coke. And in case you wondered why it's such a knock-out, or why someone like Utah Attorney General Mark Shurtleff — one of 18 attorneys general who called for FDA action on alcoholic energy drinks — calls them "killer drinks," here's a clue:

Producing what FDA officials describe as a "wide-awake drunk," the high levels of caffeine mask the effects of the alcohol, so the partier doesn't know how truly intoxicated they are, until a few cans later, when a number of drinkers have suffered alcohol poisoning or engaged in risky behavior that led to car accidents or assaults. Both caffeine and alcohol also are diuretics and promote dehydration, impairing the body's ability to metabolize the alcohol and thereby increasing its toxicity.

It's a sour mixture, and I'm celebrating the government's aggressive crackdown. It will surely kill some of the buzz around these dangerous drinks.

But let's not kid ourselves, either. Many of the young drinkers who flocked to the beverage aisle for their fill of these "loko" beverages will not be deterred by their removal from store shelves. The Internet is a powerful resource, and there are plenty of websites that offer easy-to-follow recipes for the motivated consumer to mimic these brews, and the easy high they produced, with widely distributed ingredients still on the market.

And there will be no one to stop them. Because mixing alcohol with energy drinks is still legal, even if marketing and selling such a concoction no longer is.


Homemade alcoholic energy drinks will survive FDA ban

It took them a year, and before they were done, dozens of students at three college campuses had fallen seriously ill from the toxic combination of caffeine and alcohol, the mixture was being implicated in at least two deaths, and four states instituted a full-out ban of the popular brew.

But when the U.S. Food and Drug Administration finally acted on Wednesday, it did so with a splash, essentially banning a new craze among the teen and college binge-drinking set and warning four manufacturers that their alcoholic energy drinks were illegal. Providing firepower of their own, both the Treasury Department and the Federal Trade Commission backed up the FDA, warning the same companies that marketing and shipping such products could be subject to legal action, according to a Washington Post account.

As far as government action goes, that's as definitive as it gets, and it should at least put an overdue end to gratuitous manufacturers making a mint off a product that is not just dangerous in and of itself, but that promotes the kind of binge drinking that is already all too prevalent among their young target audience.

But will it stop young partiers from mixing high-powered energy drinks like Red Bull with potent alcohols like vodka? I'm afraid that horse is already out of the barn. And in fact, some drinkers, taking a cue from a trend that started in European bars, were already mixing their own alcoholic energy drinks when fashionable labels like Four Loko, Joose and Max hit the scene. These products only made the craze more accessible and, well, more of a craze — and more of a legitimate target of government action.

And by many accounts, the professionally mixed ingredients — amounting to as much as three or four cups of coffee and three full beers in a single 23.5-ounce can, affordably priced at around $2.75 and seductively packaged in neon colors — made for a more powerful punch than any self-mixed formulas.

Four Loko, known affectionately among its loyal customers as "blackout in a can" and the most notorious of the brands for the high-profile rash of illnesses, drunkenness and death linked to its product, tried to get ahead of the FDA ban by preempting it with its own announcement that it is removing the caffeine, guarana and taurine from its controversial formula.

"By taking this action today, we are again demonstrating leadership, cooperation and responsible corporate citizenship," officials with Phusion Projects, the makers of Four Loko, said in a statement. But they also added this nonsensical whine:

"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."

How's that for delusional rationalization?

These drinks can hardly be compared to a simple rum and Coke. And in case you wondered why it's such a knock-out, or why someone like Utah Attorney General Mark Shurtleff — one of 18 attorneys general who called for FDA action on alcoholic energy drinks — calls them "killer drinks," here's a clue:

Producing what FDA officials describe as a "wide-awake drunk," the high levels of caffeine mask the effects of the alcohol, so the partier doesn't know how truly intoxicated they are, until a few cans later, when a number of drinkers have suffered alcohol poisoning or engaged in risky behavior that led to car accidents or assaults. Both caffeine and alcohol also are diuretics and promote dehydration, impairing the body's ability to metabolize the alcohol and thereby increasing its toxicity.

It's a sour mixture, and I'm celebrating the government's aggressive crackdown. It will surely kill some of the buzz around these dangerous drinks.

But let's not kid ourselves, either. Many of the young drinkers who flocked to the beverage aisle for their fill of these "loko" beverages will not be deterred by their removal from store shelves. The Internet is a powerful resource, and there are plenty of websites that offer easy-to-follow recipes for the motivated consumer to mimic these brews, and the easy high they produced, with widely distributed ingredients still on the market.

And there will be no one to stop them. Because mixing alcohol with energy drinks is still legal, even if marketing and selling such a concoction no longer is.