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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

“States studying, banning Four Loko”

Kansas liquor officials are taking a hard look at a strong drink that’s been banned in three states.

The drink, called Four Loko, mixes the caffeine of an energy drink and the alcohol content of wine in a 23.5-ounce can that sells for about $2 at local liquor stores.

One can contains the alcohol equivalent of a nearly full bottle of wine, combined with the caffeine of three cups of coffee.

Michigan and Washington have banned the malt beverage and similar products after reports that the mixture caused blackouts and, in one case, a heart attack, among college-age drinkers. Oklahoma is phasing the drink out of its stores, allowing liquor stores to sell their remaining stock but prohibiting further supplies from being brought into the state.

Freda Warfield, a spokeswoman for the Kansas Division of Alcoholic Beverage Control, said Kansas officials have had no reports of incidents related to the beverage. But they are closely monitoring the situation in other states and an ongoing investigation by the Food and Drug Administration.

Initially, the product sold poorly, but controversy has boosted sales, he said.

“”The sad thing is, with all the exposure, we have people who don’t even know what it is coming in and buying it,”” he said.

A group of nine students at Central Washington University had to be hospitalized last month after a party featuring the energy-alcohol beverages.

The students had blood alcohol levels ranging from 0.12 to 0.35. Anything more than .30 is considered potentially lethal.

Phusion Projects, the company that created and produces Four Loko, portrays itself as “”a small business success story,”” started by three friends at Ohio State University.

They feel that their product is being unfairly targeted because the bans don’t apply to other caffeine-containing drinks, such as coffee liqueurs.

“”If mixing caffeine and alcohol is the most pressing concern, addressing it would be best accomplished by creating laws that apply to the entire caffeinated alcoholic beverage category — not specific, individual products and not just beers or malt-based products,”” the company said in a letter to state and federal regulators. “”If product-specific bans remain the preferred course of action, we will protect our rights as a business to the fullest extent of the law.””

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