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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

FDA wants to take your Loko away

Get “”loko”” while you still can. Recent news out of the New York Times insinuates that the Food and Drug Administration may be attempting to introduce a change in the production of the alcoholic energy drink Four Loko and similar beverages. The FDA has been conducting a review of the safety of alcoholic energy drinks for a year now, and at long last is expected to take a stand.

Although it has only been in recent months that we all became aware of the notorious beverage Four Loko, alcoholic energy drinks have been around for some time and are currently available for purchase in 47 states. Perhaps it’s the notable deaths of a teenager who combined diet pills with several Four Lokos and a 20-year-old who fatally shot himself while playing with a gun after having consumed numerous Four Lokos that have stirred the FDA into a long-overdue response.

While everyone likes to have a good time, even more people like to prove they can have a better time than others. In the world of parties, there is a never-ending struggle to prove one’s own superiority and drinking ability. Thus, we find the explanation of the sudden rise in popularity of alcoholic energy drinks. With so many notable horror stories, there is an ever growing will to get a taste of exactly just how hard Four Loko is. Although it is notably cheap and sold in various locations, Four Loko has become quite the party commodity. It is at this point that it actually becomes appropriate for intervention by an outside agency like the FDA. With mounting peer pressure and increased media attention to the beverage, the anxious consumers only want the drink more and more. The reported problem with consuming a mixture of caffeine, a stimulant, and alcohol, a diuretic sedative, is that it prevents the consumer from knowing when they are reaching the point of drunkenness. With that added onto the “”who can drink more”” challenge, an inebriated drinker falls victim to severe health risks.

The FDA is expected to issue a “”warning letter”” to the producers of Four Loko, which would allow them to alter the contents of the beverage or remove it from the market entirely. Such action will determine how hard-pressed the producer of Four Loko, Phusion Projects, is in keeping its moneymaker the way it is. Ricardo Carvajal, a current attorney in Washington and former associate chief counsel at the FDA, claims that such an action would be a “”shot across the bow”” to the manufacturers.  

On the contrary, a warning letter from the FDA would be nothing worse than a letter from a homeowners’ association requesting you to rake your leaves and pick your weeds. The fact of the matter is that Phusion Projects most assuredly realizes that it will take a serious amount of action on the part of the FDA to do anything, should Four Loko stay the way it is. The FDA would have to first seize all the product on the market, then request a court order to halt its production. Neither action is reportedly likely to happen.

The FDA was right to look into Four Loko, but should it proceed with its warning letter, it will be utterly wrong in its response to the beverage.

Four Loko has already caused the death of two people, spurred party themes like “”Edward Four Loko Hands”” (where — you guessed it — party goers have a can fastened to each hand) and it’s reportedly pretty rough on the body, having produced heart attack-like symptoms in some consumers.

Yes, all drinkers are capable of just not drinking it, and nobody is forcing them to “”get Loko.”” Nonetheless, the Loko is a little too extreme and shouldn’t be there for people to even make the mistake of over consuming. Of course, there will be cries of “”I can take it,”” but if you must get your fix, do it with a Red Bull after a shot of cherry vodka.

 

— Storm Byrd is a political science sophomore. He can be reached at letters@wildcat.arizona.edu.

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